Harlem is back for a second season. The Tracy-Oliver-created series follows a close friendship group of four successful Black women living and working in Harlem, New York. Starring Meagan Good as Camille, Jerrie Johnson as Tye, Grace Byers as Quinn, and Shoniqua Shandai as Angie, they rely on one another to get them through the ebbs and flows of life. Tyler Lepley plays the role of Ian, who returns to his old neighborhood to open up a new restaurant and finds himself caught between the life he envisioned with his fiance, and yearning for his ex, Camille.
Season 1 ended with Ian and Camille kissing just hours before his scheduled nuptials. His fiancée catches them from a staircase above, stunned by the reality that the man she loves and has sacrificed for is clearly still in love with his ex. In Season 2, Ian must face the consequences of his actions, while also realizing that his new eatery may be doing more harm than good for the revitalized neighborhood that he loves so much.
Ahead of the Season 2 premiere, PopCulture.com spoke with Lepley about all to expect in the new season. He also dished on how he is balancing an all-female set with his lady and new baby at home. New episodes drop weekly on Prime Video. Watch the full video interview on our YouTube channel.
PC: Congratulations on Season 2. Obviously, last season Ian caught himself in the pickle with Camille at the season finale. So how is your character navigating the decision that he made this season, and where do things stand with you and Camille that you can dish out?
TL: Yeah, well, he's navigating it as best he can. Ian is – this man that's like a lot of us. We're in the process (of) trying to figure out who we are and what we stand for. And a lot of times, we dream big, and we want these things. Like Ian, I like to look at him in the first season as like Ian, the dreamer. He wanted to rekindle his old flame, and he wanted to introduce a piece of Paris into his old block through this fine French cuisine, this restaurant that he introduced. But then figuring out what to do with some of those things and taking responsibility for the reactions surrounding them is something that he's got to do as a man.
Again, he rekindles that flame. What does it mean for his current fiancee and his home life? You got to deal with that as a man, be responsible. Same thing with the restaurant. Yeah, he succeeded in it, but now his own people are starting to look at him he's part of the gentrification problem, so you got to deal with that. You know what I mean? So I feel like one of his themes and one of his throughlines in season two is him developing what's necessary to be a man.
Why do you think the show has been such a success with its viewers for it to get picked up so soon and for there to be such a yearning for a second season? And what about your character do you feel resonates so much with yours?
I would say that it's getting such positive feedback, and people are loving it so much because it's just really highlighting the necessity to see Black people, Black culture, Black joy, and all of its complexities. You know what I'm saying? Multifaceted. It's not just one note, you know what I'm saying? It's not just hurrah like, 'OK, cool, we're not just strong.' You know what I'm saying? There's some virility and vulnerability that goes along with it as well. You know what I'm saying? And I feel like seeing that juxtaposition, seeing that contrast, whether it's us as a people or you look at Ian as an individual, is something that we can all empathize with because that's what really makes us human.
Now this is your second season, so obviously, you and the cast have had enough time to build true relationships outside of the show. How are you managing, having such girl power around you all day and then having to go home to more girl power with your love and your baby girl?
My new one is a baby boy, but my middle one is a baby girl, so I do have that. But you know what? I feel like it's such a treat. We feel like a lot of times, you think about strength, it may be a knee-jerk reaction to think that strength goes along with being a man. I'm seeing such strength and such power from being on set with these women. And at the end of the day, I've never been supported more than by a Black woman. You know I mean?
Whether it be the supporters that I got from the artistry that I do, or my woman at home. So it's like I get enveloped in this support when I'm on set. And then the flip side to be the only man, not the only man, but one of the men being surrounded by all these women, it's like I love to bring my own sense of strength, my own sense of protection to them as an artist, but then also just as an individual. We move around in the streets, it's like they know I got their back. You know what I'm saying? So it's just a beautiful marriage of love between all of us.