Although President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama have turned Black love back into a pop-culture phenomenon, the concept of portraying it is often lost for screenwriters, E.P.s and movie execs. Which is why Let’s Stay Together is such a breath of fresh air in a TV culture that's rife with stereotypes and misconceptions about black love. BET.com spoke with LST star Ronreaco Lee about love, marriage and getting over cold feet.
How was it working on the LST set?
Working on the LST set was great, largely due to the fact that I was raised in Atlanta. For me, I got to go back home and work. Beyond that, it was great being on the set with a lot of wonderful people, a lot of lovely Black folks. We came together and really formed a bond over the 13 episodes this summer. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
The great thing about LST is that it portrays Black love in a positive way, and you don’t see a lot of that on TV.
You don’t see any of it, do you? [laugh]
Right, you really don't! You’re a newlywed yourself. How does that relate to your filming experience? Is being a newlywed, for all intents and purposes, mirroring what you did on the set every day?
You know it’s weird, that question always kind of comes up. And for the first time, my work and my life, they’re paralleling one another. I actually wasn’t married very long when we started filming LST. I got married on June 13, and they started filming on the 14. Luckily they gave me a couple of days to kind of bask in the bliss of being newly wed. The thing about it is, my character on Let’s Stay Together, they’ve been married a couple years. So if anything I’m probably learning from that experience. I think people always want to assume that there are similarities, and there are. There are basic similarities in terms of communication, things of that nature. But this season, which is rapping up today, the Woodsons are really in a stride. They’re doin’ the thing! They’ve got the kids, Jamal works, Tasha stays home. So they’ve got it together. The thing about being a newlywed that I’m finding out, my wife and I are growing, we’re learning one another. We’ve known each other for years prior to getting married, but there’s nothing like once you jump that broom, it’s a whole new level of intimacy between a man and a woman that you only know if you’re married. So they’re very different. But again, there are some subtle similarities in the communication process and the way we interact. We like to have a good time, my wife and I. I try to bring that to Jamal—try to have fun!
Are there going to be any surprises for the Woodsons on the finale?
What I will say is there is a nice little tweak toward the end of the season finale that will definitely leave viewers wanting to know what it is. I don’t even know what it is. Executive Producer Jacque Edmonds Coffer kind of kept this very close to the breast, and I haven’t a clue. I just know there will be an introduction of another character from our past. And where that’s going to go, I don’t know. I’m going to be sitting back and enjoying the ride like everybody else.
Jamal is Charles's best man in the wedding. Do you have any real-life best man experiences that you want to tell us about?
I’ve been a best man twice. My very best friend was married in ’08, and I served as his best man. My cousin got married in ’06, and I was his best man. The one thing that I can remember in my wedding, and in my best friend's wedding, oddly enough, we both actually made the drive together. I drove from downtown L.A. to Northern California, and the morning of the wedding it just worked out that we drove up together. I’ve known this brother since sixth grade, we’ve been best friends and so it was amazing to have that moment just before he got married. Just to talk, reminisce. It was just an amazing time and I was able to set up my wedding day that exact same way. We didn’t have as long of a drive, but I got married in Chicago, and so we had a car take us from the hotel we were all staying at down to the wedding venue. And we got to have that moment, just the two of us. That was probably something I’ll never forget. I was a little nervous, but it was all good nerves! It was a big day for me! When you know it’s right, it’s right.
Speaking of knowing when it’s right, do you have any advice for men who are looking to jump the broom, but are afraid to take the leap?
[Laugh] Yeah, I do, actually. It was funny because my father played a very important role in kind of counseling, not only myself, but my fiancée at the time. He was there for the both of us because it's a trying time. When you're trying to plan a wedding, sometimes things can get a little crazy. And sometimes when you have the impending nuptials, it puts a microscope on things. But one of the things my father said to me, and he got it from his in-laws, “It's always a work in progress.” I think a lot of brothers, myself included, look for situations to be perfect prior to making that leap. And in essence, it’s a leap of faith. One of the things my father says is that his in-laws have been married probably over 30 years, and they're still learning one another. And when he said that to me, it put a great deal in perspective. Because I've known his in-laws for a very long time—and my dad’s actually remarried—but you couldn't have told me that these people didn’t have the quintessential “Huxtable" marriage. But to find out that if you could really get deeper than the surface, these people are working at their marriage. When he told me that, it put a lot in perspective for me. And it began to be more of a journey for me in terms of, you know, trying to learn. My wife and I are in the process of reading this great book called, The Five Languages of Love. It’s just this great book that talks about communicating and understanding how to love your mate. And we’ve read a lot of different books. My thoughts prior to getting married were, "It’s perfect, it’s real, we ain’t got to do nothing because, you know, we married!" But at the end of the day, it’s a great job, it’s not a hard job, it's good work that you put into it; because the benefits are amazing. That’s what I would say, remember it’s always a work in progress. Keep that at the forefront of your mind. For me it made that decision that much easier because I went into it knowing that we were going to grow together. We weren’t finished, the journey has just begun for the both of us.
Do you have any advice for grooms who might have cold feet?
You know, cold feet is a tough one. Because you know most men, and a lot of my brothers, I feel like we approach marriage from a different perspective than from how I think women approach marriage. I think for the guys who are having cold feet—I don’t know what to say! That’s a tough one. Because I wouldn’t say that I had cold feet. For me, what my struggle was—people would say because I’m a Virgo (I’m not really that much into astrology) that I know exactly what I want, and I plan for it.