Last year finally changed a long draught on the small screen where an African American woman was cast in a primetime leading role. Shonda Rimes’ breakout hit “Scandal” featuring Kerry Washington offered up Olivia Pope.
Continuing on that path to bring much needed diversity to television, NBC introduced a new midseason drama featuring another African American woman in a lead role with “Deception” starring Meagan Good.
The show premiered January 7 to over five million viewers. “Deception” is centered on the wealthy Bower family whose daughter Vivian, a famous socialite, is mysteriously murdered. Her estranged best friend Joanna Locasto, played by Good, is a police officer who goes undercover to investigate the Bower family and seek out her former friend’s murderer.
Also starring Victor Garber, Laz Alonso and Katherine LaNasa, the overall premise is similar to traditional soap operas but takes a slightly different approach revealing many secrets early on including Vivian’s killer, which surprisingly is not the driving force behind the show.
“People watching the show want to know who murdered Vivian and as the show goes on, you realize that is actually the backdrop for all these other things,” Good explained to the Defender. “There’s a chain reaction to her death so the rabbit hole goes deep. There is a lot to reveal and a lot of information that everyone has to get once it comes full circle.”
Known for her roles in the critically acclaimed “Think Like A Man” based on Steve Harvey’s bestselling book and 1997’s “Eve’s Bayou”, which earned her an NAACP Image Award, Good instantly gravitated towards Deception’s intricate plot and her character Joanna.
“I connected with her moral compass. She’s not a judgmental person and she has a strong sense of self and what she feels is the right thing and she always tries to do the right thing no matter what it could potential cost her,” she said.
Although she’s played numerous characters, Good was looking to shed the stereotypical vixen image she’d become known for and dive into more action packed roles and characters that allowed her to show her other creative sides.
“I’ve been dying to do something like this,” she exclaimed. “I’ve wanted to do action for a really long time but unfortunately, I hadn’t gotten the opportunity so that was one of the things that made me gravitate towards this role. I can show people and creatively expand as an actor and say I appreciate if anyone considers me attractive but there is so much more that I want to do and it’s not just standing there with a face full of makeup and cleavage.”
The recently married actress got help from her father with preparing for her new role. He worked for the Los Angeles Police Department for 27 years. That life experience allowed her to add even more depth to the character.
“I did talk to him about it but they also teach us on set and have someone that makes sure everything is authentic but a lot of it was the mindset. How is a human being’s mindset that it’s so in the fiber of their moral being to pursue justice that they are willing to die for the cause?” she said.
As an African American actress, having the opportunity to play a non-traditional role came right on time for Good. With the increase in reality shows that often depict African American women in a negative light and very few positive images or opportunities for actresses of color to play multi-faceted characters, successful shows like “Scandal” and “Deception” are abolishing the notion that viewers aren’t ready to support African American women in leading roles.
“I’m starting to see a shift in general,” Good explained. “It’s really a blessing because I’ve been in this business since I was a little girl but leading roles are really far and few and I think that Kerry really pioneered it and I’m coming right behind her so we are on the front line of a movement. If her show continues to do well and, God-willing, my show, we will be able to prove that we are capable. It’s important because everything you do here in the arts in L.A. is distributed to the rest of the world and we determine the images they see, the music they hear, and the role models they have.”
Good is also basking in the positive responses and support she’s received about the show.
“The feedback has been really positive and I think it’s important. I am proud to be a Black woman and proud to be the second Black woman on NBC in over 35 years. I wanted to have pride, I want us to be proud, and I want us to be exactly who we are,” she said.