Tina Andrews is a multi-talented actress, writer, author, and producer who has dedicated her life to investigating black female history to uncover those erased from the historical record. Born and raised in Chicago, she played Valerie Grant in the soap opera “Days of Our Lives” and appeared in “Roots” as the girlfriend of Kunta Kinte. Her acting career led her to numerous appearances on stage and screen. A gifted writer, she wrote the hit miniseries “Sally Hemings: An American Scandal” and became the first African-American to win the Writers Guild of America award for original long-form script. She also wrote the screenplay for the 1998 movie “Why Do Fools fall in Love.”
Her novel, “Charlotte Sophia,” told the story of Queen Charlotte of England’s concealed African Ancestry and was released as an audiobook voiced by “Bridgerton” actress Adjoa Andoh. HBO Max recently acquired the novel, and Tina Andrews is working on the script.
Charlotte Sophia spans 50 years in the life of a formidable queen who’s history collides with lust, betrayal, politics, rape, murder, and madness. In this sweeping portrait of one of England’s most unexplored yet beloved queens, Andrews combines meticulous research with her adept mastery for bringing history to life.
With shows like “Bridgerton” gaining the attention of fans loving the story of black royalty, Tina Andrews challenges viewers to know a bit of unknown history; the story of England’s First Black Queen.
Chicago Defender: How did you first become aware of Queen Charlotte?
Tina Andrews: Well, it started in Chicago with my dad, who had a fabulous library when he was alive. He bequeathed his library to me when he passed, which became the beginning of the 3000 books I have in my home. One of the books in his possession was a book by black historian Jay Rogers. In one of the volumes titled “Race and Sex,” there was a full-page rendering of a painting hanging in Buckingham Palace. The woman in the painting looked ethnic, and it said Charlotte Sophia, England’s first Negro queen. I said, “What? How do we not know that? How is that not taught in our history classes?”
We know that her husband, King George III, fought in the Revolutionary War and went mad. So we know everything about him, but not that his wife was a woman of color.
Chicago Defender: Did you know immediately that you wanted to tell this story?
Tina Andrews: I went on this journey to discover all I could about her. I thought it would be fascinating to tell that story in a feature film or miniseries form, but there was so little information in those days. So I put it on the back burner, but I knew I would tell this story eventually.
Chicago Defender: How do you even begin to find information about a Black Queen of England?
Tina Andrews: The current Queen, Elizabeth, talked about her own African heritage shortly after her coronation in 1952. In my head, I thought, “at least the queen is acknowledging she has some black blood.” What that means is that all of the royals have some black blood in them. I had finished “Sally Hemmings: An American Scandal, and that was a huge success.
It was the early 2000s, and I began to get every book that mentioned Queen Charlotte. Those books were usually about her husband, King George. I collected as much information as I could and then realized I needed to go to London. I would go to the British Library, the British Museum researching and finding as much information as possible. This book took eight years to write, and it had gaps. In those gaps, I had to use my imagination to connect historical dots.
That’s why it’s historical fiction.
Chicago Defender: But there was a living Black Queen of England?
Tina Andrews: I do thorough research. Where I have actual history, I included that in the book where I had no history, I created it. I had to do the same with Sally Hemmings. When you put everything together, you have a story. However, there will be steps, scenes, and sequences missing, and you have to add your imagination to it. That’s what I did, but yes, the world had a black Queen of England.
Now we know that there were Queens in Africa and other parts of the world, but in terms of European countries, people would prefer you didn’t know about that. So I think that part of my job and the part I love to do is putting our contribution, women, and people of color’s stories and our contributions front and center because all too often, we have been expunged from the historical record.
Tina Andrew’s book, “Charlotte Sophia,” is available at bookstores and online retailers. The series for HBO Max is currently in development.
Danielle Sanders is a journalist and writer based in Chicago. Find her on social media @DanieSanders20