Of the five actors on Let’s Stay Together, Erica Hubbard is the most noticeable of the bunch. Best known for her role as Cassie Sutton on Lincoln Heights, Hubbard landed the role of Kita Whitmore thanks to the success on the ABC Family drama.
For all you Lincoln Heights fans wondering what happened with the show, Hubbard spoke to BET.com about the cancelation along with the transition from playing Cassie to Kita, the single and outspoken DMV employee.
How did you land the role of Kita on Let’s Stay Together?
I landed the role of Kita because I had just got off another show that had a successful run of four years called Lincoln Heights. They called me over at BET and said we have seen your work and we want you to come in and read this role and I said sure. When I came over and read the role, I fell in love with it. I went back a second and third time and then I booked it.
What was your reaction when ABC Family canceled Lincoln Heights?
It hurt. We didn’t know. We had won an Outstanding Best Drama Series NAACP Image Award and people were starting to find out about it and write about it. Even on Facebook, we have 129,000 viewers and if you look on Facebook now, people are asking for the show to come back. It was a shock to everybody, not just to us. After you do something for one year, two years, three years, four years, you think it’s going to go on. We thought it was going to be like ER. It was cool…four good years is cool. We kind of grew up together.
Is this going to be a situation like The Game, where the fans were able to bring the show back?
They have been trying to do that. They have online petitions and stuff. But you know what? I’ve kind of moved on and I’m happy where I’m at now. Everyone has grown up so much. When we started the show, my little sister [Rhyon Nicole Brown] was 12-13. Now she’s 18. Some years have gone by but, you know, a “Movie of the Week” would be nice, ABC Family.
What’s the transition been like going from Cassie Sutton to Kita?
Cassie Sutton is totally different from Kita. The character development I did with Cassie Sutton was more of a shy introvert that expresses herself through her art. She’s very quiet. I wanted her to be like that because I didn’t want her to have a voice until her senior year. The reason why I didn’t want her to have a voice is because she wasn’t ready to have a voice. She’s a kid in the comfort of her parent’s house. I wanted to play her very, very calm where Kita is loud and outspoken. She’s going to tell you what’s on her mind. When I look at different characters and different roles that I pick, I like not to play them the same. That’s one of the reasons why I was attracted to Let’s Stay Together, because it’s not the same from where I came from. You kind of want to be versatile as an actor because people want to see that you can do different things because you’re more likely to get hired for another project.
Is Cassie Sutton or Kita more like who you are in real life?
It’s so weird but I have lots of different personalities but I’m a little bit of both. I possess qualities like Kita where I can be loud but sometimes I’m quiet and withdrawn and I don’t want to talk, like Cassie. I just played this other character named Michelle and she’s like a cross between the both of them. It’s weird because I took a little bit of both Cassie and Kita to play Michelle, where she’s kind of quiet loud. When she’s spoken to, then she will be loud.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced as a black actress in Hollywood?
The biggest challenges I have faced as a black actress would be … there needs to be more roles written for us and I would love to see more material out there. That’s one of the challenges I face. I want to see more projects written for us that explores our lives. Instead of complaining about it, I like to change the situation. I’ve been going in for projects that weren’t specifically for African-American girls and I booked them. They changed their mind. Like in “A Cinderella Story,” I played this popular, stuck up outspoken girl and she’s this “valley girl.” I think even though there’s a lack of roles for African-American women, the objective would to be go in and have them change their minds so they want to hire you, regardless of your ethnicity.
What’s the response been like from people about the show?
They always say there’s nothing on television that talks so much about love and staying together, so they like it. They like the fact that we are showing positive images on TV of people who are getting along with each other. I’m so happy BET is doing this because you don’t see a sitcom that talks about love and people sticking together. We need to see more of that with the recession in this economy. We need to love each other more and make it work.
Will Kita ever find love?
I hope Kita finds love in the second season. In the first season, she’s still on her “mancation,” which is taking a vacation from men, until she finds out more about herself and what she would like in a relationship. I think that’s healthy and important.
Tell me about your foundation.
I created the Erica Hubbard Foundation a little bit over a year ago to help out with kids that deal with poverty and low self-esteem. The reason why this origination I created is so true to me is because I come from a community where I dealt with gang violence and drug violence. There were a lot of kids that dealt with low self-esteem. If we can mentor kids to have confidence and self-esteem, then they can be more successful and stay in school and get their education.
(Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images for NAACP Image Awards)