Image Source: Bukunmi Grace
In our Q&A series POPSUGAR Crush, we get to know some of our favorite celebs’ more intimate details — from their perfect date night to their best love advice. This month, we’re crushing on “UnPrisoned” star Marque Richardson.
Marque Richardson almost let imposter syndrome talk him out of starring in his new hit show, “UnPrisoned.” Despite finding success in Netflix’s “Dear White People” as the beloved Reggie Green (a role he played on TV for four seasons and in the 2014 movie), the 37-year-old actor tells POPSUGAR he wasn’t sure he could “take up space” next to seasoned stars like Kerry Washington and Delroy Lindo, aka his “Mount Rushmore of actors,” in their Hulu series.
The trio star together in their true-life-inspired dramedy, created by Tracy McMillan, that follows Paige (Washington), a “messy but perfectionist relationship therapist and single mom whose life is turned right-side-up when her dad, [Edwin] (Lindo), gets out of prison and moves in with her and her teenage son, Finn (Faly Rakotohavana).”
In the series, Richardson plays Paige’s short-term boyfriend and Edwin’s friendly parole officer, Mal, who the actor calls “one of the most secure characters on the show.” However, Richardson himself admits he wasn’t 100 percent sure he had what it took to join a show that had such a stacked cast and impressive production team. “I saw Kerry Washington, Delroy Lindo, and [writer] Yvette [Lee Bowser] was already in. These were no-brainers,” he says. “[But] for me, it was a matter of, ‘Can I actually do this?’ . . . ‘Could I hold space, take up space, with these masters of their craft, Kerry and Delroy?'”
In the end, Richardson jumped at the opportunity to star in “UnPrisoned,” joking that “it was either this or OnlyFans.” “I was like, I want to work with people that I love, respect, appreciate, and I’m not saying yes to anything else until those ducks are aligned,” he adds. “Literally, I was like, I got bills to pay and this thing just magically appeared. But I think I’ve made the right decision.”
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Richardson loves being an actor — so much so that he also married one in his wife, Tiffany Boone (“The Chi,” “Little Fires Everywhere,” “The Hunters). So aside from “UnPrisoned” having a great cast attached to it, the actor was ecstatic to learn that the show’s scripts were really good, too. “I read a lot of stuff and a lot of [it] is trash. But I hadn’t come across something that told the story of somebody coming home and reconnecting after being incarcerated and showing the lifetime effect that has on a family and how one has to be compassionate and understanding,” he shares.
Similar to what creator McMillan previously told POPSUGAR, Richardson notes that “UnPrisoned” covers topics that we rarely discuss as a society, much less portray on TV. “Everybody in America is affected by the [criminal justice] system, but nobody really talks about it,” he says. “So I was just happy to be a part of a project that sheds light on these issues, the complexity of humanity, and tells it in a light, funny, provocative, sexy way . . . Kudos to Tracy, who created this story based off of her life. She really opened up her heart and vulnerability to tell this specific story that’s so universal.”
Compared to previous roles he’s tackled, Richardson says “it was nice” to play a character that taught him so much about himself. “This character came into my life [and] I discovered that he was somebody who I needed to become and somebody that I wanted to become in my real life, in order to get through some stuff that I had going on,” he reveals. “I had no idea I was going to be getting as much healing from this project and this character as I did.”
He continues: “I really appreciated how aware he was of himself, and also his ability to meet people where they are. He’s not perfect . . . But still, he has a level of self-awareness and compassion, especially as a Black man, that I was really excited to see, experience, and create this whole human being that got to show the healing side of the Black man.”
If “UnPrisoned” gets picked up for a second season, Richardson says he looks forward to seeing Mal navigate post-breakup life following his (spoiler alert) emotional split with Paige in the finale. Now, what will that look like? It’s hard to say right now, but if he and Paige don’t get back together, Richardson says he’d “really like to see the complex side of Mal.” “If he is single and hitting the streets, I’d like to see what he does out in the streets,” he laughs. “Maybe the character Finn can put him up on game.”
Read ahead to check out the rest of the actor’s POPSUGAR Crush interview and tune into all eight episodes of “UnPrisoned,” now streaming on Hulu.
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