Lorraine Toussaint interview: ‘The Equalizer’
Lorraine Toussaint is enjoying playing her free-spirited character Aunt Vi on the new CBS reboot of “The Equalizer.” In the high-stakes world that the show’s vigilante protagonist Robyn (Queen Latifah) inhabits, Aunt Vi is a calming force, serving as a caretaker to Robyn’s daughter back home where all three live together. Over time we discover that Aunt Vi has lived a full life, with a bohemian sense of style and a wealth of wisdom. “She’s the character I wish I had in my life when I was growing up, someone that I could fearlessly ask questions and get real answers,” says Toussaint in an exclusive new webchat for Gold Derby. Watch the full interview above.
While Aunt Vi feels like a fully-formed person even in the pilot, Toussaint suggests that this wasn’t necessarily the case when she was first learning about the character she would play. “She was almost a little bit of a stereotype in terms of caregiving, maybe older,” recalls Toussaint. She actually suggested to the writers that her character be spiced up a bit. “She became hipper and cooler and much more of an Auntie Mame type of character as opposed to stodgy and traditional.”
Aunt Vi is kept in the dark about the nature of Robyn’s work for most of “The Equalizer’s” first season, until her niece finally comes clean in Episode 8. Toussaint is intrigued by how this will change the dynamic moving forward. “I think she’ll be the Alfred to the Batman more so than anything else,” the actress ponders. We may even see Aunt Vi get involved with the vigilante justice alongside her niece. “I have a feeling that Vi will end up having skills that will serve, whether they’re medical, certainly psychological.”
The CBS drama has developed a strong fanbase, to the point that it is now renewed for a second season. Toussaint theorizes that the familiarity of the procedural format is an aspect of the show’s high viewership, but she also believes the show’s themes of heroism and looking out for the little guy are resonating. “We have need of the hero again in our world and so many of us have come through a time where we’ve felt so powerless and afraid and vulnerable and unsure about where to turn,” explains Toussaint. “In our zeitgeist, there’s been a need for this particular kind of hero that looks just like us, that looks like the lady next door who’s doing carpool. It speaks to the fact that we can be our own heroes in our own lives.”