Condola Rashad wanted to go into Lifetime’s all-Black remake of Steel Magnolias with fresh eyes.
Steel Magnolias is a classic chick flick of the highest order. It has a wedding, babies, love (old and new), drama, girl talk at the salon and awesomely catty humor. The story brings together five different but equally engaging women. What’s not to love?
So when word got out that there was going to be a remake, many were excited by the news that it would be an all-Black cast. But for Condola, this was a whole new project.
"When I was younger I saw the original and I haven’t seen it since," she told S2S. "I kind of didn’t want to watch it going into [filming] only because it’s already a remake."
She added, "I kind of wanted to go in there fresh and treat it as if it’s never been done before."
Condola plays Shelby, whose life serves as the central focus of Steel Magnolias. That’s a lot of pressure for one character, but if anyone could handle such an awesome task, it’s her! Condola believes that Shelby is just the type of person that will rise to any challenge that comes against her.
"Shelby is the kind of person—and I know people like this—whose bodies are not as strong as their spirit," Condola said of her impression of Shelby, "and she’s the kind of person that will listen to her spirit over her body every single time."
In her mind, Condola envisioned that Shelby has always had a defiantly strong streak. "I imagine her to be the kind of person that would literally try to do everything that people told her she couldn’t do," the actress explained.
Perhaps the biggest challenge for Condola, though, was the fact that she’d be working with her mother Phylicia Rashad for the first time ever. Although she had a lot of fun on the set with her mom, it was a bit of an adjustment at first for her. "I’m used to being around her work process, but I’m not necessarily used to her being around mine," Condola confided. "At first I was a little nervous."
Phylicia won’t be playing Shelby ‘s mom—that happy task goes to Queen Latifah. Also starring in the TV remake are Jill Scott, Alfre Woodard and Adepero Oduye. Condola recalled that it was a real treat that made working with Phylicia a little easier.
"Being with the other women, we all had a great dynamic. And me and my mother found the balance," Condola said, noting that she couldn’t come to set acting like she was a complete stranger. "I couldn’t go in there and pretend that she wasn’t my mom. That’s weird."
The magnolias may have bloomed in Black this time around, but despite such a big change, Condola is certain of the fact that audiences will see that the story itself holds up.
"I think it just proves the fact that the story is universal," she reasoned. "Me going into it, I wasn’t really thinking too much of the fact that it was an all African-American cast. I mean it’s exciting, but that’s not the goal of telling the story. That’s just the circumstance. The story is universal."
Get a peek at the cast before Steel Magnolias premieres October 7 at 9 p.m.
Photos: ‘Steel Magnolias’ promo pics
Queen Latifah teases ‘Steel Magnolias’