Genius: Aretha, which stars Cynthia Erivo as Aretha Franklin, will premiere on Sunday, March 21 at 9 p.m. on the National Geographic channel. The limited series showcases Franklin's life in a way viewers have never before seen while highlighting the late icon's relationships with many individuals in her life, including her two sisters, Carolyn and Erma Franklin. Ahead of the eight-part mini series' premiere on March 21, PopCulture.com got to chat with Broadway star Rebecca Naomi Jones, who plays Carolyn in the series. Jones opened up about everything from working with Erivo to being part of a show that has such a diverse cast and crew.
During her time filming the series, Jones worked closely with Erivo and Patrice Covington, who portrays Erma. According to the actor, the Widows star had more of a "private vibe" on the set of the series, which actually helped her develop Carolyn's character. She explained to PopCulture.com about Erivo, "She's very warm and easy to talk to ... but she's got a bit of a more private vibe, which is great and actually, I think was so helpful in terms of the family dynamic that we were creating." On the other hand, Jones formed a "sister vibe" with Covington "almost immediately," which also plays into their characters' dynamic.
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"I think it all worked out so perfectly, especially because Patrice is more loud and confident and just assertive of her presence than I am," Jones said, adding how it all kind of "fell into place" perfectly. "Because Carolyn is the youngest sister and was in a lot of ways the peacemaker in the family and so it all kind of sort of — it worked out very naturally for us to be in roles that we were."
Not did Jones have plenty of praise for her co-stars, but she also spoke about what it meant to her to be a part of such a diverse production both in front of and behind the camera. The actor even pointed out that it was so important to have a diverse production given the amount of work that Franklin did when it came to social justice.
"It made such a big deal to me," Jones explained. "I think namely because Aretha Franklin really, really was involved in the civil rights movement and we get to watch in this series how she sort of realizes that this whole movement is happening while she is rising to fame with her singing career, and that she realizes the importance of it, and that there is something greater and more important perhaps than just entertaining people, and that using your talent as an influence for good is such a magical gift."
She continued: "So, I think in learning that this was so important to Aretha Franklin, which is something that so many of us don't know about her, it felt so exciting to be a part of a set that was also dedicated to inclusion of all kinds."