From executive producers Lena Waithe and Halle Berry, the BET original half-hour series Boomerang is a subversive and smart look at friendship, romance and gender politics among millennials. Continuing the story of the 1992 film of the same name but now following the lives of Jacqueline Boyer’s son, Bryson (Tequan Richmond), and Marcus and Angela Graham’s daughter, Simone (Tetona Jackson), as they try to make their own mark on the world, alongside their longtime friends Crystal (Brittany Inge), Tia (Lala Milan), David (RJ Walker) and Ari (Leland Martin).
While at the BET portion of the TCA Press Tour, Collider got the opportunity to sit down and chat with Tetona Jackson, Tequan Richmond, Brittany Inge, RJ Walker and Leland Martin about telling a story that’s authentic and true to the millennial voice, what they like most about their characters, having their voices heard, building chemistry with each other, the honest way the show handles sex and sexuality, how well they knew the original movie, what it means to them to have the support of Halle Berry, and just how involved the very busy Lena Waithe is with the show’s development.
Question: I love this show and how, even though we’re reminded of the movie, it feels very relevant to today. When you guys read this, did it feel very relevant, authentic and true to you?
BRITTANY INGE: When I read it, it definitely felt authentic and true to the millennial voice. I felt like I was reading a script from someone who really understood the community, and the communities that they were writing about. It made me excited because I immediately related to the characters when I read it.
TETONA JACKSON: I definitely think you can relate to at least one of the characters in the show.
RJ WALKER: Speaking just to my character, David, when I read it, it intrigued me because he’s not just your stereotypical Christian. He’s religious, but we also touch on the struggle of being in the spiritual fold, or being in the church. We touch on temptation, and we touch on dedication. It’s really nice to see a person, as opposed to an idea. This show has a lot of people leading the charge, but there are no shallow characters. There’s a lot of depth. I think this is a very important show, and it’s really dope.
LELAND MARTIN: One of the staples of the show is the relatability and the fact that there are a lot of people, throughout the culture, that are going to see themselves in each one of our characters. You have some people who might be considered the rebels of society, and then the people that are in corporate America trying to make their way, and we all come together, as friends. That’s the backdrop of it all, being able to relate to so many different people in society.
Do you guys also feel like you have a voice and a say in your characters and in what you’re doing, and that you can speak up, at any time, if you feel that you need to?
MARTIN: They tell us, all the time, that we don’t have to do anything that we don’t wanna do. It’s a very collaborative feel, amongst the EPs, the directors, and the talent. Speaking for my self, I never felt forced to do anything that I didn’t wanna do on set, at all. It’s a very open and warm environment for us all.
INGE: They let us change lines, all the time. If something doesn’t ring true and doesn’t feel authentic coming out of our mouths, they adjusted, so that we could portray it and say it as truthfully as possible. They were very open about all of that. It was amazing.
WALKER: And Dime Davis made sure to keep an open dialogue, from the outset, and was only one phone call away. If we were in the same vicinity, we could meet up. If we ever had an issue, it was very collaborative. Even building the show up together, it seemed collaborative. We all had a part in our characters because she was so open to letting our voice be heard, as well.
Which is great because there are a lot of you. Having your voice heard makes the characters feel more real, and I would imagine that it also makes you guys feel more comfortable with each other, and that’s important when you all get thrown in together and you’re supposed to be friends.
INGE: Absolutely! We worked very diligently to build chemistry and spend time with each other outside of set, especially at the beginning of the process. Just coming in, we really want to learn about each other and learn more about who we were as people, so we could bring these characters to life, as authentically as possible.
Tetona and Tequan, because your relationship is at the heart of this show, did you guys also spend time talking to each other about how you wanted to handle that?
JACKSON: We actually knew each other, prior to this show, so I think it definitely helped, going into it with that friendship and bringing that chemistry onto the screen. But we all, as a group, would hang out, outside of set, and get to know each other.
RICHMOND: It was definitely a big help knowing each other prior to the show. When we first got there, it was a main priority for us to build real relationships, and they weren’t always the best, at all times. That’s what was so authentic about it. Like our characters in the show, we’re not always the best of friends, but we always circle back to that loving each other. We’re family and we’ve grown up with each other. I think we were able to capture that sincerely.
JACKSON: I think our show is very honest and real, in general and all around.
MARTIN: People are gonna see a true authenticity, especially when it comes to my character, as far as the sexual fluidity and things of that nature. It’s very authentic to the actual character, and a lot of people are gonna see themselves because of how authentic it is, in the portrayal of sexual fluidity and even heterosexual relationships, as well.
Leland, when it comes to your character’s sexual fluidity, are there things that you do to maintain the truthfulness of the character, when that’s not something that you can personally draw from?
MARTIN: I trust the writers that there are actual portrayals going on, in the scripts, and I just try to stay in tune with people, knowing what I know, within my own life experiences and friends that I have and can talk to about it. With that, I can tell that this is a very authentic portrayal.