[Editor’s Note: The following contains spoilers from “She’s Gotta Have It” Season 1, including the finale.]
The first season of Spike Lee’s “She’s Gotta Have It” TV series adaptation of his 1986 film ends on a high note, so to speak, when Brooklyn artist Nola Darling (DeWanda Wise) invites the three men in her life to an awkward but open Thanksgiving dinner that culminates in a pot-fueled dance party in her apartment. Wise spoke to IndieWire about a time jump and what else to expect when the show returns for Season 2.
“It’s 18 months later, so we all know what could happen in a-year-and-half’s time,” she said. “One of my favorite things …is thinking about my own career as an artist, you don’t come back to her and she’s super famous. We’re not coming back 18 months later and she’s like a super-accomplished, prolific, visual artist. No, she’s still fighting and struggling and working through issues.”
In Season 1, Nola creates anonymous street art called “My Name Isn’t…” that overlays photos of women’s faces with the various condescending or downright insulting epithets that men call them in everyday life. She also paints portraits of the black female form for a public art exhibit that inspired a negative critique. By the end of the season, Nola’s friend has outed her on Instagram as the creator behind the “My Name Isn’t…” art. This season continues that journey of finding that balance of what she wants to say and how she’s perceived.
“There’s career and personal progress, a little maturation there, and then actual application of all the lessons she learned in Season 1,” said DeWise. “Her personality remains intact and then, more than that, her journey in Season 2 — we touched on it in Season 1 — this notion of what it means to be an activist within an artist, that kind of multi-hyphenate. We do a more introspective dive that basically materializes at the end of Season 2 in a really substantial way.”
Meanwhile, Wise would only say “we’ll see” when it comes to what will happen in Nola’s personal life. The artist has been fiercely anti-commitment, preferring to find an aspect of each person she appreciates, but not agreeing to exclusivity. By the end of Season 1, each of her swains — Jamie Overstreet (Lyriq Bent), Mars Blackmon (Anthony Ramos), and Greer Childs (Cleo Anthony) — leave her asleep, disappointed by not being her one and only. At the very end, Nola’s fourth lover Opal (Ilfenesh Hadera) drops by.
Production of Season 2 unfortunately meant that DeWise had to drop out “Captain Marvel” for the role of air force pilot Maria Rambeau. “It was a direct [scheduling] conflict, but we shot in Puerto Rico for Season 2, and the time that we spent in Puerto Rico conflicted directly with the time that my character, that Lashana Lynch played beautifully, was shooting in New Orleans.”
Despite that missed opportunity, playing Nola has given Wise an opportunity to play roles that she hadn’t before. She’s had roles on “Underground” and “Shots Fired,” but she more recently can be seen in the Netflix rom-com “Someone Great” and on CBS All Access’ reboot of “The Twilight Zone” as a flight commander on a mission to Mars. She’s also walked away with a giant self-portrait of Nola — which, of course, is a portrait of herself.
“Spike has the original print. There are so many iterations of that portrait floating around, but one of them was really exceptional, and so I have a huge, huge portrait of myself in my office. Its basically the size of the office,” she said. “Also, there’s a portrait in Season 2 that is life-size. It is now in my office, me and my husband don’t know what the fuck to do with it … you will know what I mean [when you see it.]”
Besides that giant physical memento from set, Wise has also taken away something less concrete. “Nola has definitely made me more direct, more ballsy, and a far more empowered than I was before Nola,” said Wise.
”She’s Gotta Have It” Season 2 will be available to stream on Friday, May 24 on Netflix.