The Tuesday night series, from creator Craig Wright (“Lost,” “Brothers and Sisters”), stars Lynn Whitfield as matriarch Lady Mae Greenleaf, who, in Season 4, has been displaced as the church’s leader while her power continues to dwindle. “Lady Mae has been sent home with no stilettos or pencil skirts,” Whitfield says. “It’s like she’s not a boss lady right now. She’s at home trying to control things from the outside and she has to be covert.”
‘This season, everyone really has to strip down emotionally and look inward.’
Co-stars Merle Dandridge and Deborah Joy Winans, who play Lady Mae’s daughters Grace and Charity, say that “Greenleaf” viewers should fasten their seat belts for a bumpy ride this season.
“There have been huge changes from season to season,” Dandridge says. “This season, everyone really has to strip down emotionally and look inward.”
Winans says that Charity “has been through a lot, so you see her suffer quite a bit. At this point she’s just going through so much. She’s grown up and she’s no longer naive — she’s no longer the kid that you get to put in the corner.”
“Greenleaf” has been a big ratings draw for OWN since its 2016 premiere and also stars Keith David as Lady Mae’s husband, Bishop James Greenleaf; Kim Hawthorne as Kerissa Greenleaf; Desiree Ross as Sophia Greenleaf; Lamman Rucker as Pastor Jacob Greenleaf; and Lovie Simone as rebellious daughter Zora Greenleaf.
Series executive producer Oprah Winfrey has a recurring role as Lady Mae’s sister, Mavis McReady.
“Lady Mae never fulfilled her own dreams, so she’s at the point now of evaluating her life, but she can’t think straight until she’s back in power at her church,” Whitfield says. “What you see is someone who’s humbled over the course of the season, who has to try to figure out her purpose in life.”
While the soapy “Greenleaf” is just fiction, Winans, Whitfield and Dandridge all share a sense of personal spirituality.
Dandridge says she “struggles to be quiet,” while Winans says she tries not to compare other’s lives to her own. “God’s timing is perfect for everyone,” she says, “so there’s no reason to covet anybody else’s dream.”
“Most important to me is to not judge other people,” says Whitfield. “And it’s really so hard, because I think you leave your game once you start looking at what others have. I’ve seen so many spiritual leaders get involved in materialism … but that’s what happens when money and power go hand-in-hand.
“I’ve seen people lose their minds and start thinking that it’s all about them,” she says. “The suits get fancier, the dresses get fancier. But what I do know is that these people are only human. They make their mistakes.”
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