Kofi Siriboe Talks Queen Sugar And KicksPosted by Wilson Morales
September 13, 2016
Currently making his presence on the big and small screen is actor Kofi Siriboe, who is on in Justin Tipping‘s directorial debut “Kicks” and award-winning filmmaker Ava DuVernay‘s OWN TV series “Queen Sugar.”
“Queen Sugar” chronicles the lives and loves of the estranged Bordelon siblings in Saint Josephine, Louisiana. Siriboe stars as Ralph Angel Bordelon, the youngest Bordelon sibling. Formerly incarcerated and somewhat worn out by life, Ralph Angel is trying to make a new start — and find a job — while raising his beloved 6-year-old son Blue with the help of family members, notably his aunt Violet.
With “Kicks,” 15-year-old Brandon longs for a pair of the freshest sneakers that money can buy; assuming that merely having them on his feet will help him escape the reality of being poor, neglected by the opposite sex and picked on by everyone — even his best friends. Working hard to get them, he soon finds that the titular shoes have instead made him a target after they are promptly snatched by local hood, Flaco (played by Siriboe). Seemingly the embodiment of menace, Flaco harbors complexities of his own that will be revealed when Brandon goes on a mission to retrieve his stolen sneakers with his two best friends in tow.
Having started out as a young actor with roles in director Fred Durst’s “The Longshots,” “Prom,” and “40, ”Siriboe also had roles in the big screen hits “Straight Outta Compton” and “Whiplash.” He has also guest-starred in episodes of “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Lincoln Heights” and “Entourage.”
Blackfilm.com recently spoke with Siriboe on having two similar roles on film and TV.
How many auditions did you go through to get the role on Queen Sugar?
Kofi Siriboe: You won’t believe this, but I had two auditions. Ava fell in love with me the first time I auditioned.
Although you started out young in this business with film, this role on TV has given you a bigger spotlight so far. What does that do you for you?
KS: I think it’s a powerful medium just to show people the perspective of Black men that I think doesn’t get share enough and to be able to do it in such great company with Ava and Oprah (Winfrey) and to be groundbreaking on a channel like OWN says so much about the channel. For Oprah to be persistent and tell those stories and to be grouped in that is so special.
How does it feel to be directed by an all-female crew?
KS: I can tell you in the last six months, I have been so well versed in women. I’ve dealt in so many types of women from sizes, ages, and sexual orientation. Just to be around them at such a young age and I actually have a drive to understand women deeper than just the surface, and that’s my drive for human in general, but for me that was just groundbreaking. I think a woman’s perspective is so sensual. To be able to share that sensual lane for so long and not be looked at as a minor or somebody younger and be looked at eye-to-eye and equal-to-equal and actually respected, it changed my entire life.
You’re also playing another young father in another role, but that’s on the big screen in ‘Kicks.’ Can you talk about that role?
KS: Everything I did in Kicks prepared me for this role on Queen Sugar. I got to show even more vulnerability, even more sensitivity because of the different back-stories and Ralph-Angel and Flaco. I’ve always said that I wanted to be a young father because I’m obsessed with the psychology of human life and just everything that makes us who we are rather than just the surface of being human. I feel that will be the trend in the roles that I do and the types of characters that I try to play. I really want to tap into the duality of personalities. Even though these people seem so character like, I want them to feel that you can run into a Ralph-Angel or Flaco on the street and not have to be afraid because you know that there is a human inside.
In talking about Flaco, what makes him want to steal a pair of sneakers from a young kid?
KS: The same reason that Ralph-Angel wants to take the money in the beginning of Queen Sugar. That “I just gotta do it for mine” mentality, regardless of the intention from both characters, but in Kicks, he didn’t need the shoes. It was for his kid. He was trying to do that for his son. For me, it’s that idea of protecting you own and how you express that as a man and what’s okay to express that. That’s not the way to express that, but it’s that ambition to be the best that you can for yours. They just to learn how things in different ways. In seeing this film, it will allow room for ways in going about things.
As an actor looking for job security, how comforting is it knowing that Queen Sugar has already been renewed for a season 2?
KS: There’s so much you learn about the character once you’re done. After I finished Kicks, I wanted to have another take on it. Not because I didn’t feel what I did was authentic because I learn so much from Flaco after I experience being Flaco. Ralph-Angel is the same thing. Six months later, by the end of shooting, I knew who he was, but the exploration is what you see. In Season 2, he will be a whole other man and that’s a huge chapter of why I feel the evolution of how we see Black men can be seen on a global platform.