Joy Bryant has blazed an impressive television trail for three seasons portraying Jasmine Trussell on the critically acclaimed NBC drama Parenthood. Now the 38-year old actress, best known for her work in the films Antoine Fisher, Spider Man 2 and Welcome Home, Roscoe Jenkins is getting ready for her fourth season on the TV drama, which premieres September 26. In her chat with BET.com, she gave her opinions on interracial dating, discussed her "boogie down" Kerry Washington connection and why right now is an incredible time to be a Black actress in Hollywood.
On Parenthood, your character Jasmine is in an interracial relationship with a white man and they have two children together. The Black woman and white man coupling has become a popular pairing in primetime. What’s your take on it?
I hope it’s not a trend. What’s different now versus 10-20 years ago is that it would have been a huge deal back then. Our actual storyline would have focused a lot on that, or it would be viewed as risqué. What I like on our show is that we don’t even make a big deal about it. Our show centers on the fact that we are two people in a relationship. Those cultural differences may come up as they do in real life but we’re two people in love and we have children.
Have you ever been in an interracial relationship?
I’ve dated outside my race. My husband’s mixed race so he knows a lot about that experience. He grew up in a small town in Washington State and his family was the Black population in that town. His dad’s Black, his mom is white and they met in the Peace Corps in Sierra Leone in 1960. When his dad, who was a pediatrician, tried to open up a practice they wouldn’t give him an office because he was Black. But he did it anyway. Whether you’re into it or not, I think interracial relationships are awesome, because things are not so Black and white anymore. It’s time that people really get over that s--t. It’s America.
You and actress Kerry Washington share a hometown connection.
Yes. We’re both Bronx, New York raised and very proud of that. Big up [to] the boogie down! Bronx girls done did good. [Laughs] We’re representing basically.
When and how did you two meet?
We actually met early on in our careers. I think we met on an audition back in 2001. I just started acting, I was brand new and I was a model, nervous to be in the acting world. But Kerry was just so cool. I knew her work because she had already been in a few movies and she stuck to me and was just so friendly. It’s a competitive industry and she didn’t have to talk to me — she didn’t have to be cool, but she was. And that’s how she’s always been.
Both you and Kerry are making tremendous strides in primetime network dramas. What are your thoughts on her Emmy nomination?
I am just so proud of her, everything she’s doing and everything she’s done. Kerry is an extraordinary woman and is breaking down the doors and burning down the house [Laughs] in her amazingness. My work yes, but Kerry’s work in primetime on Scandal — it’s historic. The fact that a Black woman created the show and it’s based on Black woman starring a Black woman — they’re busting through the ceiling. Yes, we still have to acknowledge that more of the playing field needs to be leveled. There’s still a ways to go for people of color in front of the camera, behind the camera and for women of color in general. But, we should definitely celebrate these huge strides that were having right now. It’s really an amazing, wonderful time.
(Photos from left: Valerie Macon/Getty Images, ABC/CRAIG SJODIN)