Tracy Oliver’s love letter to the iconic New York neighborhood continues as Harlem is back for season 2!
“We’re picking up, literally, right where we left off,” Oliver told Shadow and Act in a recent interview. “We’re not time jumping, so we’re dealing with the immediate aftermath of the cliffhanger that everyone saw in season one and we’re just picking up with everybody’s careers and love stories and everything as we left it. I think the magic this season is about these women finding their own personal happiness and their own joy.”
For characters like Angie, portrayed by Shoniqua Shandai, a lot of finding their joy is pinpointing exactly where it stems from.
“For her, the outward affirmation or validation of who she is, is the job, is the world being able to see that she’s the star she feels she is, but being able to be like, ‘OK, no matter what’s going on in my world, no matter what job I have, this is my truth…that I am loved,” she said.
As we witness Angie’s growth, we also see Quinn (Grace Byers) evolve, however, she is faced with some harsh realities throughout the new season.
“There is a soft spot that I have actually developed for Quinn as I have played her,” said Byers. “And I think that we can all relate to [her], even if we’ve never been in those exact circumstances. We can relate to the feelings that are there. So for Quinn, there have been feelings of being despondent, feelings of hopelessness and I think that when we kind of go through the colors of our own canvas and our own emotions, we find that there are those places to delve into and say, ‘Oh, I haven’t really visited this one in a long time.’ And to lend that to the character, I think, was a little cathartic. It was a blessing to me to be able to do it.”
And speaking of growth, Tyler Lepley explained how his character Ian truly becomes a man in this season of Harlem.
“We get to watch Ian grow into a man and deal with some of the things that come with wishing for all of these blessings,” said Lepley.
Furthermore, he says this season is about taking any of the cards life deals you and learning from it.
His one true love, Camille (Meagan Good), is also leveling up her life and taking those lessons with stride.
“She is taking more accountability and she is being more about, ‘No, I’m gonna take my life by the reins and go after what I want,’ and more open-minded, but more intentional about everything,” said Good. “Not just wanting or desiring something and working towards it, but like, ‘What are the things I need to put in place for the things I really want for my life?’ She’s discovering who she is not. She’s discovering who she thought she was.”
As the characters in Harlem continue to tug at the heartstrings of those watching, Jerrie Johnson’s continued wish is that the show is a safe space for women who have rarely seen themselves properly reflected on TV.
“I want the people coming up now to be like, ‘Oh, we had Harlem, I felt seen by Harlem. Because I watched Harlem, I decided to go into tech, or I decided to go into anthropology, or I decided to be a designer, I decided to choose acting or be a performer, or whatever,'” she said.
“I want to normalize Black female friendships,” she continued. “So, that in this next journey, this next ascension, people acknowledge that Black women don’t have to have conversations with white executive heads explaining to them why it’s important for Black women to see Black female friendships on screen.”
Season 2 of Harlem is now available for streaming on Amazon’s Prime Video.