Queen Latifah interview: ‘The Equalizer’
Queen Latifah jumped at the chance to play a vigilante in CBS’s reboot of “The Equalizer.” In the series, Latifah plays Robyn McCall, who, like the original 1980s series and the Denzel Washington films, is a past intelligence agent who uses her skills to seek justice for those in her community who have nowhere else to turn. The actress was excited to get the chance to recreate this character for a modern TV audience. “I’ve seen a lot of real-life equalizers in my life so why not bring one to the screen who looks like me?” says Latifah in an exclusive new interview for Gold Derby. “It was kind of a no-brainer.”
Throughout the first season, we hear allusions to Robyn’s past and how she became the fearless woman she is today. Namely, the loss of her father at an early age, who had a major, positive impact on her life. This loss is partly what allows Robyn to empathize with others who are going through hardship. “She will always have a place in her heart for people who have gone through things, people who have experienced loss or people who feel powerless in certain ways,” observes Latifah. No matter what the situation is, Robyn is able to put herself in a position to help those who need help. “When she gets the job, the job is gonna get done, so she doesn’t really necessarily judge anyone,” the actress adds. “She has her own point of view with how she feels about it but she puts everything aside when it comes to the mission.”
“The Equalizer” premiered after the Super Bowl in February, giving it the biggest possible launch for a TV show all year. Latifah found this programming decision appropriate given the relevant themes they tackle on the show and the ongoing discourse over NFL players using their voice to speak out, especially after the Black Lives Matter reckoning last year. “What better show to air after, and the biggest show on television, going right into ‘The Equalizer,’ which is a show that’s all about getting one for the good guys?” states Latifah.
While the 20+ million viewers who tuned in for the premiere would be nearly impossible to retain for subsequent weeks, enough of an audience has stuck around to warrant a second season renewal. Following the big moment towards the end of the first season where Robyn comes clean to Aunt Vi (Lorraine Toussaint) about her vigilantism, Latifah is intrigued to see what’s next. “I think we’re gonna have a lot of fun exploring what to do with that and how she’s gonna walk that line of keeping them safe and keeping them out of that stuff and whether she does continue or doesn’t continue,” teases Latifah. “That’s gonna be very tricky and I wanna play all of that trickiness and all of that complexity.”
Latifah is a previous Oscar nominee, Emmy nominee and Grammy winner. She will be on the Emmy ballot this summer as Best Drama Actress.