Starring in ‘Chi-raq’ brought fresh challenges for Teyonah Parris

SHARE Starring in ‘Chi-raq’ brought fresh challenges for Teyonah Parris
SHARE Starring in ‘Chi-raq’ brought fresh challenges for Teyonah Parris

Things are certainly going in the right direction for Teyonah Parris as the young actress launches into the second season of the Starz series “Survivor’s Remorse” — having just wrapped Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq” film in Chicago.

Calling from her parent’s home in South Carolina, Parris laughed as she hinted at what viewers can expect on “Survivor’s Remorse” (premiering at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 22, on Starz). “I can say you can definitely expect more craziness and silliness from that group,” said Parris. “You’ll see Cam [played by Jessie Usher] really grow and find his footing, not only in the sports world, but in his household as well.”

Teyonah Paris on “Survivor’s Remorse.” | Starz

Teyonah Paris on “Survivor’s Remorse.” | Starz

Produced by NBA superstarLeBron James, the show focuses on what occurs after Cam Callowaysigns a pro basketball contract and moves his family to Atlanta. Parris plays Missy Vaughn, the wife of Cam’s cousin Reggie Vaughn (played by RonReaco Lee).

Among the new “shenanigans,” as Parris described them, the actress said she was happy the new season “explores more about Missy and Reggie’s relationship and where that is going, given the pressures, temptations, distractions and responsibilities that come with the newfound wealth a multi-million dollar contract brought to Cam and his family.”

Parris is a sports fan “and I played sports growing up, but please don’t ask me to give you any stats or rankings in the NBA. I can follow basketball — and football too — pretty well, but don’t think I’m any kind of expert on it!”

As the actress sees it,“Survivor’s Remorse” really isn’t so much about pro sports per se, “but about what goes on behind the scenes. It’s not about what’s happening on the court, but all the lives and personal politics off the court that makes it compelling.”

One thing that Parris has come to understand is the price of fame — both in the world of professional sports and in Hollywood.The actress credits a strong family foundation and friendships dating back to elementary school as being the reason she believes she can handle the spotlight.

“You really can’t prepare for it,” said Parris. “No matter how much people explain it all to you, you just have to walk through it and figure it out for yourself.”

A graduate of the prestigious performing arts school Juilliard, Parris said, “I’ve been so blessed with an amazing, supportive family and a mom and dad whonever once said I couldn’t follow this dream.”

That dream landed her a high-profile role on the recently finished “Mad Men,” playing Don Draper’s assistant Dawn Chambers. The part, Parris said, “couldn’t have been more different than Lysistrata, her character in Spike Lee’s “Chi-Raq.”

The new film, which generated a lot of controversy over itstitle and its focus on crime and gangs in Chicago — was, for Parris, “the most challenging thing I’ve done so far in my career.”

In an update of the ancient Greek tale “Lysistrata,” Parris plays the lead role, a woman who goes on a sex strike to protestgun violence. Therole forced her to “call upon every single part of my training, my natural abilities and whatever skills I’ve acquired to pull it off.”

Describing the film as “Greek tragedy meets Blaxploitation meets a Spike Lee joint,” Parris said the director’s approach was “very collaborative, making it feel very much like theater.” While she loved working with the large cast — especially Angela Bassett, Nick Cannon and Chicagoan John Cusack, with whom she had the most scenes — Parris laughed when she revealed one of the surprises she faced on set.

“This one day, they said, ‘OK, today you have learn this dance.’ … Dance! I didn’t know there was any dancing in this movie! … But that’s the way it was. You just pulled yourself together and got on with it — and, I did learn that little dance!”

The Latest
Sputtering White Sox offense gets 10 hits but goes 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position
The male, whose age was unknown, was taken to the University of Chicago Medical Center where he was pronounced dead.
Already this year there have been 203 mass shootings in America. History shows registration of powerful weapons can be an effective way to save lives
Employees for the Hispanic Housing Development Corporation referenced the ordinance in explaining to the local alderperson why they kept the heat on at the James Sneider Apartments in Rogers Park despite stifling temperatures last week.
In-person early voting starts May 26 in Chicago; June 1 for suburban Cook residents; and on Thursday for voters in Lake, DuPage, Will, Kane counties and other parts of Illinois.