Up Next

Sundance Film Festival

2 Dope Queens reveal why they’re ending their successful show

Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson on their busy schedules, Michelle Obama and bad braids

PARK CITY, Utah — Before Jessica Williams and Phoebe Robinson officially say goodbye to their highly successful podcast-turned-HBO-specials, 2 Dope Queens, they had a champagne-fueled brunch.

News of the ending of their HBO series hit black girls hard, as the two tackled race, gender, sex and anything else they wanted to talk about, and they did it in a way that played well to the brown girls they represent and larger, white audiences alike. At the Sundance Film Festival, the two hosted a private brunch at one of Main Street’s notable restaurants, Tupelo. While guests feasted on crab toast, butternut squash soup, French toast, omelets and biscuits dripping with honey butter, they opened up to political commentator Angela Rye.

“Honestly, when we started 2 Dope Queens, we really just wanted to have fun and do a really cool show, and I don’t think we were expecting it to explode our careers in a way we couldn’t predict, and that’s really what happened.” — Phoebe Robinson

Rye led a discussion about what would get their black cards revoked, and Williams cracked a joke to the crowd that besides being a bad braider (the women challenge Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o to a braid-off in an episode that airs when the series returns next month), there’s this: “The braiding is bad, but when we landed, I saw three Mormon men and thought, ‘Yeah, they’re attractive.’ ”

The brunch happened at about the same time that Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) announced her candidacy for president in Oakland, California. Naturally, the women talked about the current political climate. Robinson said her brother Phil recently ran for public office in Cleveland and won. His win was significant because it flipped the long-standing red area to blue, and he did it, she said, without bad-mouthing the other candidate.

“One thing I think was really important about his campaign is that he was running against someone super established and in the position for a long time, and he never did one negative ad campaign,” she said. “He never said one bad thing about his opponent. A lot of this back-and-forth, high school pettiness is too much. I don’t care about that. I want you to tell me what you’re actually going to do and why I should vote for you. There’s not enough substance, in my opinion. I think fighting and name-calling is ignorant, and it’s not what grown-ass adults should be doing.”

“I really am so inspired by her story because she is really a woman who could only exist in this time. She really took advantage of that and didn’t let detractors and haters get in her way.” — Robinson on Michelle Obama

The podcast is also ending, and the finale will feature a sit-down with former first lady Michelle Obama. That interview won’t appear on the HBO special. It was recorded without cameras at her office, which Williams joked smelled amazing.

“I really am so inspired by her story because she is really a woman who could only exist in this time. She really took advantage of that and didn’t let detractors and haters get in her way,” Robinson said. “She really cares about everyone else who doesn’t have the privileges and luxuries that she has. She wants to make their lives better, and I’m really moved by that.”

The show isn’t returning because they’re both busy with other projects, a fortunate effect of the popularity of their podcast. Robinson will soon be seen in Taraji P. Henson’s What Men Want, a film about a female sports agent who suddenly can hear men’s thoughts. Williams will co-star with Demi Moore and Ed Helms in Corporate Animals, which screened at Sundance.

“We are booked and busy,” Robinson said. “Honestly, when we started 2 Dope Queens, we really just wanted to have fun and do a really cool show, and I don’t think we were expecting it to explode our careers in a way we couldn’t predict, and that’s really what happened. I think we have a champagne problem where we are working a lot, and we’re able to be in movies and TV shows and get these writing jobs, and we don’t want to phone it in. If we can’t give 110 percent and give the best show possible … then I don’t want to put out a s—ty project, because you guys don’t deserve that.”

Kelley L. Carter is a senior entertainment writer at The Undefeated. She can act out every episode of the U.S version of "The Office," she can and will sing the Michigan State University fight song on command and she is very much immune to Hollywood hotness.