It’s the middle of a new season and Spectrum is springing everyone forward to the edges of their seats. The network’s new drama series “Long Slow Exhale” stars Rose Rollins as J.C. Abernathy – a successful Head Coach of a competitive women’s basketball team. As the storyline unfolds, Abernathy finds herself in the middle of a potentially career-shattering sexual abuse scandal as she tries to find the truth among the many secrets she uncovers.
At a time in the Black cinematic universe where representation matters, Sheen spoke with Black lead actress Rose Rollins about what drew her to her latest role and project playing a lead character that is described as very flawed yet redeemable.
“J. C. she is a force to be reckoned with. She’s so strong but yet she’s full of such passion. And she’s flawed as well but I think there are times you don’t know where she’s coming from – then you turn around and you’re like ‘you know what I get it, I’m back on your side.’ At the end of the day, you’re always rooting for her and I really respect her as a woman,” says Rollins.
It’s a thrilling, edge-of-your-seat, roller-coaster ride kind of drama series that takes you behind the scenes into the world of college basketball. With each character, their many layers, and unique set of circumstances – you get to explore them and how the choices they make affect their lives. For Rollins, her character has to make decisions that affect her, her family, and the team of female athletes who all rely on her.
From executive producer, showrunner, and creator Pam Veasey (LA’s Finest, CSI: NY), and director and executive producer Anton Cropper – Spectrum’s new, 12-episode series was 7 years in the making and was written and conceived long before the MeToo Movement and real-life Hollywood scandals surfaced.
“What ‘Long Slow Exhale’ is based on is my experience as a professor, as a mother, and as a fan of athletics. Reading stories about sexual assault incidents on college campuses and because most of the coaches in those stories were men, I wanted to bring it to a woman’s perspective and women’s basketball. The script was written and then the MeToo movement happened so a lot of people think it came after, but it actually preceded it because it’s a dirty little secret on college campuses on how they handle these cases and the way college campuses sort of police themselves,” says Veasey.
Sheen Magazine caught up with the stars, director, and creator of Long Slow Exhale to discuss the new TV drama, what it takes to be a real MVP, and real-life lessons and advice about having judgment, boundaries, and wisdom for living in life and relationships.
What are your top 3 biggest core values that you want to instill in your team?
Rose Rollins: Respect one another, support one another, and honesty.
Ian Harding: Determination and Finding balance. Cultivating a life is equally as important so “Get a life.”
Tony Gonzalez: Intense daily focus and repetition. That’s how you become a really, really good ballplayer.
What real-life lessons did you learn about having judgment, boundaries, and wisdom for life – based on playing your role?
Rose Rollins: I learned that because I’m a very passionate person, I’ve found that there is a time to fight for what you believe in but then there is a time to just let it go. It’s not worth it.
Brittney Elena: I learned to give people more grace and to be more patient and understanding. Just with the script though, it was written so well. I think that’s also going to help other people be more understanding and give grace as well because you do not know what somebody is going through so something that you may feel is a character flaw in you it might be something that that’s their way of coping with it. That’s their way of handling it and I feel like this show is going to help people be more understanding and give grace to others.
What have you been able to do in this series that you haven’t done before?
Anton Cropper: For me, it’s not just the female lead but being able to create a show that feels incredibly premium, incredibly cinematic, incredibly smart, well written, that has a black female lead and a large black cast. It’s not a Black show caught on quote because I think we label things too much but you rarely get to see this opportunity with this cast and at this quality and standard.
Pam Veasey: Writing about a flawed woman. I’ve never – usually when you write women characters they can’t have affairs, they can be flawed, they can’t make bad decisions and you can’t put it in the world of women’s basketball. Those were all the things that people rejected the project initially for. They said, “No one will watch that, they’re not interested in sports. This character isn’t redeemable or likable and I think we’ve proven them wrong.”
Long Slow Exhale is available exclusively on Spectrum. All 12 episodes will air over the course of four weeks starting Monday, April 4th, with 3 episodes airing each week.
Photos and images courtesy of Spectrum Originals/Paramount Television Studios