In 2018, Stephanie Charles first worked with Tyler Perry on his show The Paynes, the OWN Network sequel to his hit series, House Of Payne. But nothing could quite prepare her for his latest TV project, a dark drama called Ruthless.
As the church-going Nyla Payne, Charles encountered her fair share of challenges being a single mother raising two kids and fending off a no-good boyfriend. But her character in Ruthless is a feisty wife named Sarah trying to find out what has happened to her husband, Andrew, an FBI agent who has been investigating a religious cult.
“Sarah is more gritty. She’s such a fighter. And normally I play the sweet girl next door,” says Charles, whose acting credits also include The Parenthood and The Loonies. “She is still a good person, but she’s a little bit edgier than other characters I’ve played. Sarah, she just loves her family and she’s fighting for [them]. Her husband hasn’t checked in with her like he normally does and she’ll do anything to find out what is going on.”
Ruthless is a spin-off of Perry’s The Oval and follows a woman named Ruth (Melissa L. Williams), who has abducted her daughter to live with her as part of a violent cult called The Ragadooshi. Not only is the subject matter more risqué than The Paynes, the shooting schedule was more intense as well.
“We all know that Tyler Perry shoots very fast. In The Paynes we would do four episodes in one week,” she explains. “[But] we shot this whole series in 13 days. [And] it was shot in blocks. So, imagine you’re [shooting] 18 episodes and you’re doing scenes from episode one, then it jumps to episode 22 and you’re like ‘What happened before this episode?’ It’s like boot camp but you come out better as an actor.”
Despite the grueling schedule, Stephanie is confident that fans will like the final result.
“There’s a lot of twists and turns. You’ll be like ‘What just happened here?’ It’s so dope!”
To find out if Sarah gets her man or loses him to the Ragadooshi, stream Ruthless on BET+ now!