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‘Cherish the Day’ star Xosha Roquemore says she’s doing just that

She discusses set life on the series, working with the show’s producer, Ava DuVernay, and showing range as an actress

Joining producer Ava DuVernay’s original scripted series on OWN, Cherish the Day, is more than lead actress Xosha Roquemore taking on her first principal role.

The eight-episode love story is a chance for Roquemore, 35, to show audiences that she’s so much more than the six seasons she spent portraying the straightforward Tamra Webb on the hit sitcom The Mindy Project. She debuted in her first major film role in Lee Daniels’ Precious, is an alumna of the NYU Tisch School of the Arts and a former member of actress Wendy Raquel Robinson’s Amazing Grace Conservatory.

“It fine-tuned my natural acting abilities and helped me learn about being an artist with integrity and doing the work,” Roquemore said, commenting on Robinson’s program. “Wendy always implored doing the work and showing up.”

Last year, she nabbed screen credits in the biographical drama, Brian Banks. She was also featured in the indie comedy G.B.F., I’m Dying Up Here on Showtime and BET+’s adaptation of The First Wives Club.

Roquemore caught up with The Undefeated to discuss set life on Cherish the Day, which airs Tuesdays at 10/9c on OWN, working with DuVernay and showing range as an actress.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

What attracted you to your role on Cherish the Day?

I’d never seen a character like Gently James before, especially in a black love story. She’s free-spirited, outgoing, from the ‘hood, really smart and well-traveled. She’s a well-rounded human being, and that’s so rare to see on television.

What adjustments did you make coming from a comedic role on The Mindy Project to doing a romantic drama?

There were no adjustments. I’m an actress and a human being, so my life is multifaceted. I have everything within me. A lot of times, audiences see you in one thing and think that’s all you can do. As a performer, you can and should always do everything.

Your first professional acting job was in Precious.

It was an affirmation that I would work in this business, and I love Lee Daniels.

The chemistry between you and your Cherish the Day co-star, Alano Miller [love interest Evan Fisher], seems natural.

It’s just being comfortable enough to let it all go. We were all being encouraged to do our thing. That’s integral to any art: Being free to be yourself within the character. A lot of scenes were me and Alano, and it was just us. When the directors would call cut, we’d have a lot of downtime. We were discussing trauma, our pasts, relationships, what hurt our feelings that week, or why I’m sensitive about something. We were just really getting to know each other. I gained a real friend. We were already homies, it just went ever deeper.

Ava DuVernay seems to have created a very inclusive environment.

The set was collaborative the whole time, but when [director of episodes five and six] Blitz [Bazawule] was there, the collaboration was even higher. He was fun. We were roasting each other a lot. He likes pretending he’s not British, but there was a lot of value in working with a peer. We’re almost around the same age. We know a lot of mutual people from Brooklyn, so that was really cool to get to tell this story that’s about folks our age with somebody who’s our age, too, with a similar perspective on things.

Do you have any aspirations to write, produce and develop your own content?

I have big aspirations to develop my own content. I was in development on my own project with Tiffany Haddish a couple years ago at HBO. It didn’t go all the way, but I learned a lot and can’t wait to take another crack at it.

What goals have you set for yourself as an actress?

I just want to do fun and diverse work that challenges me, in addition to working with cool, artistic and forward-thinking individuals.

How do you cherish your days?

I try to stay in the moment as much as possible, stay present and not get lost in the crap den, which is my head.

Christopher A. Daniel, M.A. is an Atlanta-based, award-winning journalist, cultural critic, ethnomusicologist, Prince enthusiast, and multimedia journalism professor at Clark Atlanta University.