Brittany Inge, Vince Swann, Briana Guadalupe & Theodore Barnes Interview: The Miss Pat Show

0

Brittany Inge, Vince Swann, Briyana Guadalupe, and Theodore Barnes star in The Ms. Pat Show, executive produced by Jordan E. Cooper. The Emmy-nominated BET+ original sitcom centers around the trials and tribulations of a fictionalized version of Ms. Pat, played by the legendary stand-up comic herself. Brittany Inge plays Ms. Pat’s oldest daughter, Ashley, and Vince Swann plays her son, Brandon. Meanwhile, Briyana Guadalupe and Theodore Barnes play the two youngest kids, Janelle and Junebug.

The four actors are returning to BET+ in The Ms. Pat Show season 2, with season 3 already confirmed. The Ms. Pat Show season 2 sees each of Ms. Pat’s children working through new issues and supporting the family along with their father, Terry (J. Bernard Calloway), and Pat’s sister, Denise (Tami Roman). The blend of sometimes R-rated comedy and important social issues makes The Ms. Pat Show a challenging prospect for all of the actors involved, but one that they meet skillfully.

Related: 10 Streaming Platforms That Are Worth Checking Out

Screen Rant attended a set-visit and live taping for The Ms. Pat Show last month, then took part in a round table interview with Inge, Swann, Guadalupe, and Barnes. The in-depth discussion explored how it felt to be portraying fictional versions of Ms. Pat’s children, how those characters had changed for The Ms. Pat Show season 2, and what it was like to be part of a groundbreaking BET+ show. The Ms. Pat Show season 2 will premiere all 10 episodes on BET+ August 11.

I was curious for you guys playing her children, how do you think that plays into how you guys are raised? Because the kids all know who they are, and they don’t let anything their mom has to say even affect it. Can you talk about that development that we see in season 2?

Brittany Inge: I’ll say I think that, especially as the oldest, Ashley… I like to call her the first and finest. Sorry, siblings. But I think that what you see in all of the kids – and I’ll speak specifically for Ashley – is fighting to overcome; fighting to not be what their mom has been or has been through, I should say. Fighting to kind of overcome the way that they were brought up, because I think that Pat’s trauma has affected her mothering. But they are all doing their best.

I especially see it in Janelle too. “Well, Mom, no. Because I’ve learned through my own work and my own research that that’s not the way things go,” or Ashley fighting to say, “I’m going to become a therapist, so that I can help people deal with trauma, because I grew up watching my mom not deal with hers.” I think you see that in all the kids in different ways, aspiring to be the next generation that overcomes and breaks the cycle.

Theodore Barnes: And I’ll piggyback on that. Short and sweet. I think, oftentimes too in households, you always hear, “I’m raising my [kids] to be better than I was.” I feel like that is definitely in play. And us as your kids, we contribute to making that a reality. Because you can teach someone as much as you want, but if they don’t want to get it, then they just never get it. So, definitely piggybacking off what you said, Brittany.

Brittany Inge: And I think we teach Pat, you know what I mean?

Vince Swann: Yeah, Brandon definitely recognizes some of the traumas that his mother has gone through. And instead of taking more of a challenging approach, trying to challenge his mother, he really empathizes with that and tries to figure out the best way that he can to make something of himself. Because he’s still trying to figure things out for himself and trying to find different hustles for him, just like how he saw his mother tried to find different hustles for herself. [He] definitely tries to see where he can be more the emotional comfort for mom as the oldest son in the household. So, that’s definitely what I see.

Briyana Guadalupe: Yeah, I would say for Janelle – going back to what Brit was saying that – it’s kind of the complete opposite of that, embodying what we’ve seen our mom go through and trying to do the opposite of that and do better. But I think it also helps that we have Terry and Pat in the house, because that balance is that they both have had extremely different childhoods, so they parent us in the same way.

Obviously Ms. Pat is a little bit more rougher, but we get the balance of the two parentings and to know the “not what I do, but do what I say” type of thing.

Screen Rant: The show is based on Ms. Pat’s life, but still very fictionalized. How is it day-to-day on set playing versions of her kids to such a big personality?

Briyana Guadalupe: I would say, for me, it’s been fun. It’s a party, I feel like, every time I come on set. And I was just thinking this morning that it’s nice – as we’re going through the world, going through COVID, going through ups and downs in life – to come to set and have a good time and do a comedy, and be with people that I see my family.

Ms. Pat is a lot like my mom in some ways; maybe not as harsh. But even when I did the pilot, my audition, I read it and was like, “This is how my mom talks to me.” It was real and raw, and it was no filter. And that’s what I appreciate about it. You get to see specifically, for the Black household, this is what happens. And you’ll see her say, like, “No, we don’t do that. When I’m combing my daughter’s hair, she’s in between my legs.” You know what I mean? We got the detangling comb; we got the brush. She’s very specific about how we live our lives, because when people see it on TV, they’ll be able to see, “Now, that’s real. I do that with my mom, I do that with my grandma.”

Wait, are you saying your mom is more harsh?

Briyana Guadalupe: Oh no, she’s less harsh. No, no, I ain’t gonna do my mom like that. But there are a lot of similarities, just with her parenting and how my mom has had a totally different upbringing than I have had, and her wanting the best for me and wanting me to do things differently and have opportunities that she didn’t have. And Ms. Pat? I mean, that’s the through line throughout the whole show.

Theodore Barnes: And also, we get the auditions and you we see the character, and it’s like, “Okay, this is who I’m playing, but I’m not actually that person.” So, there’s a certain extent to what we play into, but I think also us bringing something to the table, making the real person and character, and just finding the common ground is really big with us. Because we all bring something to it. It’s missing Ms. Pat’s real kids, but I feel like us being regular people, we bring and add something to them that wasn’t on the paper.

Brittany Inge: It feels like a lot of fun, and it also feels like a lot of healing. I think sometimes, for her, when we’re going through different scenarios and she’s having to have a tough conversation with Ashley or apologize to Ashley, I know that that’s a therapeutic moment for her. And for me, even though I’m not the real Ashley, I’m able to embody that moment for both of them.

Because real Ashley works on set with us, and she actually does my makeup on the show. So, I get to talk to her about what I’m doing as her on the show and even get her thoughts, her feelings, and her perspective on what we’re showing and the journey she and her mom have really been on, and be able to be a part of bringing that to life. And again, of course, it is fictionalized. But there are parts of it that are true. And that we do our best to bring to life in the best ways.

Screen Rant: To what degree would you say it is a fictionalized version? Do you feel like you’re representing a true-to-life story or just an homage to that idea?

Brittany Inge: I think it’s an homage. Because I think that there are messages that Jordan and Pat wanted to tell with the series that may not have actually translated to what happened in real life.

I know for a fact that Pat – ’cause she’s talked about this, when Ashley came out to Pat, Pat was like, “Okay, girl, do your thing.” It wasn’t a big thing. Was it difficult for her to understand within herself a little bit? Yes, but she didn’t necessarily give her child a hard time. But that was a message and a story that they wanted to tell on the show to help get that message across; get Black families to understand that your child is still your child. They wanted to make sure that story was told. And then also, Ashley is a makeup artist, and I’m a therapist on the show. So, things like that. It’s definitely an homage to each of her wonderful kids.

I was curious if you guys have favorite guest appearances for season 2 that you can tell people about?

Brittany Inge: Oh, my favorites… I can’t say, yeah.

Theodore Barnes: I mean, we could just say Tommy Davidson is back.

Vince Swann: Yeah, he’s one of the nicest people out there. You always have to be on your toes with Tommy. Because you never know what he’s going to say. He ain’t gonna say what it was, but he did something in that episode that made the whole crew, in one line… We had to break for like ten minutes, with one line.

Screen Rant: Is there a lot of improv on the show? Or do you keep more to the script?

Brittany Inge: Oh, there’s a lot of improv. The script that you get is not what it is by the time we film it, completely.

Vince Swann: Yeah, and even when we’re filming in front of audiences; new lines are being said, and all yours to say, and just improv.

Briyana Guadalupe: And I think also, that’s why the audience members like that. Because they’ll watch one take, and then we’ll do it again, and it’s completely different lines. They’ll whisper, “Do this,” or “Try this.” And so, it keeps them on their feet too. Like, “Wow, I wasn’t expecting that.” You think you’re just gonna get the same old lines, but it’s always being reinvented.

Brittany Inge: And it’s great, because we have the artistic freedom to be able to pitch ideas and pitch jokes as well that we think our character would say, or something we think our character would do, or another character would do. Sometimes, it may not even be about me, but I think it’s something stupid. I’m like, “Oh, Brandon should do this,” and we’re able to talk about that and pitch it.

Screen Rant: I was interested in a couple of the ways the characters change in season 2. Particularly for Vince, with Brandon, there’s a big change with him between season 1 and season 2, where he starts to seem a little bit more self-aware and have those moments of, “Oh, I’ve been introspecting.” How did that change in the character come about?

Vince Swann: I believe with Brandon, [it’s] seeing his older sister thrive in her career, and also seeing his younger sister excel with school and dealing with Junebug. I think he spent a lot of time in that basement, thinking about your decisions and your life choices. And I think, more so than anything, Brandon… I don’t ever think he wants to disappoint his parents. So, a lot of it comes from an emotional place of wanting to make Mom and Dad proud.

I believe that the character arc with that, in and of itself, is kind of him looking at himself. Like, “You know what? I need to kind of figure some stuff out here,” but he’s going to do it on his terms, and in his way that he thinks is best for him. Video games is the thing that’s best for him right now to make that transition. And Brandon is also the type of kid that goes, “Hey, that don’t work out? I’ll figure something else out.” He’s not really so stuck in a very traditional structure and, “Okay, I’m gonna get a job, I’m gonna then get my apartment.” It’s like, “However life just goes, I’m just gonna go with the flow with it.”

But at the same time, with doing that, he’s doing it for himself but also making sure that he makes his mom and dad proud at the same time. Because I think a lot of it has to do with making sure mom and dad are proud. I don’t believe I’ll ever say it out loud, but I know emotionally. He’s like, “Yeah, I don’t want to disappoint Mom and Dad, let me try to figure this out.” So, I think that’s where that came from.

Screen Rant: With Janelle And Junebug, they’re much more present as characters consistently. They’re not hiding in a basement. They’re not living in another city because of family issues. So, you to end up playing these rocks in the family, and we see a little bit of transition in those characters with Janelle’s expanding social life and Junebug is trying to be more of a “man.” How has it been to walk that line between being that rock in the family and then also expanding those characters out?

Briyana Guadalupe: I’d say for Janelle, it’s been fun to do. And kind of a challenge, just because she is so stoic and kind of militant and and boisterous – like, she says her opinions, but also walking that thin line of, “But she’s still a teenager.” And that’s something I did like exploring in season 2; her dating, because she is 16, she wants to have fun.

But at the same time, she’s coming from Atlanta, her roots, where she’s being brought to a whole ‘nother place that she knows nothing about. She barely has any friends, so I feel like she’s still trying to figure out her place in where she is, and she’s a little bit uncomfortable. Now, she’s kind of forced to try things and figure out who she is. But I will say it’s been fun, and I’m excited to see where else we can push that and where else Janelle will go.

Theodore Barnes: For me – or for Junebug, so to speak – I would say he’s definitely trying to figure out himself, just as a whole person. Because [in] season 2, there’s a lot of episodes where I’m just one way one day, and I’m here to make something good today and bad tomorrow. So, then there’s a fine line; we contribute to something with Pat and Terry, or Pat and Denise, or Terry and Denise.

But for me, I was just saying that he’s still figuring it out. He’s young, naïve, thinks he knows it all. But he doesn’t. So, he’s figuring it out.

The Ms. Pat Show broke new ground in so many ways with the first season, and now we’re seeing it grow. Can you talk about when you first came on the show in season 1 and how you were feeling at that time, what your expectations were? Then coming into the seasons 2 and 3, how you guys grew as a set family?

Brittany Inge: I would say coming into the show season 1, I was excited. I felt like the scripts were groundbreaking; they were artful, and that’s what excited me the most. I felt like it was something BET and BET+ had never done. And so I was like, “Oh my God, I’m so excited to be a part of this.” Also, Jordan E. Cooper is phenomenal, so I was excited to work with him.

Coming into the family, I have to say for me specifically that because I was not in the first two episodes – Ashley is introduced in episode 3, which is to say that I didn’t really get to meet them until they were preparing episode 3 – I just felt immediately welcomed. And I felt work camaraderie that I feel has grown and blossomed into real family camaraderie, because of all the work that we’ve done over these last now 2 and 3 seasons. So, it’s been a blessing to just work with these people, because they’re so much fun. They’re wonderful people, but the work that they put out, the art that they put out, and the commitment to the craft that they have just makes coming to work an absolute joy every day.

Vince Swann: When I first got the audition, it was just so authentic and so real that when I first got it, I was like, “This is gonna be a really good show.”

And then after season 1… It’s funny. Every moment, every lesson that you’ve learned from the show is so true to what happens in households, and for Jordan and Pat to not be afraid to push the envelope – and not even on a comedic side, but on the art side – to really have some tough conversations that families really do have in their house that we really don’t see on TV that much. And to put it on a platform like BET+? I haven’t seen a show like that on their network yet. And how the progression went from season 1 to now season 2, it was just groundbreaking in itself with the topics that we were hitting on.

The Ms. Pat Show Synopsis

A woman from Atlanta finds herself in conservative middle America where she lives her life as a reluctant suburban mom.

Check back soon for more of our interviews with the cast and creatives of The Ms. Pat Show, as well as insights from set down the line.

 

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here