Millions tune in every Tuesday at 9p.m EST to watch If Loving You is Wrong and social media conversations, among fans, continue non-stop. Loyal viewers remain mad at Randal and Alex. Questions are twirling around about how friendships are defined. And, the biggest question – who can you really trust? We recently, sat down with two of the show’s cast, April Parker-Jones (Natalie) and Aiden Turner (Brad), to discuss what drives them as actors, their relocation to Atlanta, GA, and the impact that they hope their characters and celebrity status has on fans and the world.
When asked about working with Tyler Perry, April Parker-Jones (Spider-Man 3, Scandal, NCIS: Los Angeles) says, “For me, it’s like being in an actor’s boot camp…” With both actors having a background in theater, they, jokingly, discuss the differences between that and TV and the similarities of working in Perry’s studios. “It (theater) is nerve-racking” Aiden Turner (All My Children, NCIS: Los Angeles, Single Ladies), says of performing live because actors only get one shot to get it right. Agreeing with him, Parker-Jones adds “but it’s a feeling that we long for. Even though we complain about it and it makes us sick, physically. We still long for it and that’s why we still do it.” Their many years of nerve-racking-no-chance-of-an-edit theater work prepared them to work with Tyler Perry who they say limits the number of takes when filming. Parker-Jones and Turner both nod as they talk about how his directorial style pushes them to bring their best.
Their organic chemistry and mutual respect is evident throughout the conversation. When asked to give one word to describe their roles, April quickly says “divine”. Thoughtfully and with a smile, she continues with “I say divine because I’ve been toiling away in Hollywood for ten years and I’ve never been a series regular on anything. I’ve auditioned for several series’ regular roles and then I get a chance to audition for this Tyler Perry show. He gives me a chance to portray this character and I feel like it was all divine destiny.” On the show, she plays Natalie, a single mother of five who works at Burger Fast, lives outside of the neighborhood, and is in a relationship with Lushion, the father of her fifth son, Frank, who wants to help her raise her children. “She (Natalie) is so much like me and it’s not a really big stretch.” Accepting this role allowed April Parker-Jones to move to Atlanta, GA and closer to her family. The emotion, in her voice, could be felt as she spoke. “It’s allowed me to get a house with my kids. It kinda makes me emotional because it’s all so divine. And, I get to work for wonderful people like Aiden, Tyler, and Oprah. It’s divine. Divine.”
Aiden Turner borrows her word and says “divine for me too because I went through a really bad break-up with my ex-wife, the divorce was horrible, and it was really, really hard to focus at the time. I had just moved to Hollywood and I was struggling to take care of that… and of myself.” Although, it should have been a happy time, dealing with a broken heart, Turner considered moving back to England. He embarked on an emotional cleanse which included him asking himself what he truly wanted. While on an introspective trip, at a bird sanctuary, one day, he answered with “I really need a job. I’d really like a role that I can sink my teeth into and bring everything that I’ve learned, in life, to the character.” “Chuckling, he says that he added “Actually, I’d also like to meet a beautiful girl. One who has no tattoos who likes a charming guy who gets up from the table when she returns from the bathroom…” Aiden Turner got both wishes as he truly loves his role and when speaking of his, now, fiancée, his love for her is hard to miss. Like his cast mate, he is thrilled about all the exciting things going on in Atlanta, GA and his recent move to the area.
In the show, Turner, is a former marine soldier who fought in Iraq with Alex’s cousin, Eddie, later became a businessman, and married Alex. He was unaware of his wife’s affair with his friend, Randal, until the second season premiere.
Both say that acting has enhanced their self-esteem and belief in their ability to achieve great things. “I’ve grown with my confidence. I’ve always been the kinda person who had a low self-esteem and was never quite certain about who I am and never been able to confidently walk into a room. Now, I have a new-found confidence and attribute that, largely, to being a performer… It’s changed my life. I’m so grateful.” Aiden Turner was ridiculed in private schools and recalls experiencing difficulty when trying to memorize a poem. “It was very tough but by working as an actor, it gives you the confidence. It’s somewhat like forcing yourself into a dark room when you’re scared and making yourself comfortable with it. And now, I can learn 30 pages in four hours. And, at the end of it, a poem”, he jokingly adds. He then recites a John Keat poem. “Can death be sleep when life is but a dream…”
Definitely doing what they love, there’s a reason why almost three million loyal viewers keep tuning in to see what’s next for Natalie, Brad, and other characters that they love… and hate. The two also hope that through their celebrity status, they are somehow being of service to the world. “I know it’s not a doctor or a teacher but even like choosing to wear my natural hair. I feel that’s my way of being of service to young black people who are looking at me saying ‘If she can wear her natural hair in front of millions of people, maybe I can too and be beautiful’ ” Turner joyfully talks about “Making people smile by taking a picture with them. It costs me nothing and I love that about my job.”
Both are grateful to fans of the show for supporting the OWN network and proud of Tyler Perry and Oprah for being trendsetters. Tyler Perry’s hit drama series If Loving You is Wrong premiered on OWN with all-new episodes on Tuesday, March 15 following the season finale of The Haves and the Have Nots.
Photos: OWN Network and April Parker-Jones