DeWanda Wise is best known for her role in Spike Lee’s Netflix series, She’s Gotta Have It, based on his classic 1986 film of the same name, but the actress almost turned down the role entirely, according to a report from NPR.
The show follows Wise’s character, Nola Darling, a “sex-positive, polyamorous, pansexual” woman trying to juggle life and love while dating three very different men at the same time. There’s Mars Blackmon, a hilarious sneakerhead who works at a local bike shop, played by Anthony Ramos; there’s Jamie Overstreet, a middle-aged investor and father in a failing marriage, played by Lyriq Bent; and there’s Greer Child, a self-obsessed photographer, played by Cleo Anthony. As the show goes on, each man proposes exclusivity to Nola but she stands firm in her convictions. Nola also enters a relationship with Opal Gilstrap, a lesbian mother who owns a flower shop, played by Ilfenesh Hadera.
While creating, Lee doesn’t shy away from exploring the series’ sexuality and he was upfront about requiring male nudity, according to a report from Rolling Stone.
“Particularly today, I’d be crucified if Nola’s butt-naked and she’s the only one — I’d be justifiably crucified,” Lee said. “So I told the men, I said, ‘Yo, we got to see your ass, too.'”
And it’s for this reason that Wise almost didn’t step into the role of Nola. The actress revealed that her husband, fellow actor Alano Miller, was initially uncomfortable with her filming sex scenes. However, after a bit of back and forth with Lee, she decided to embrace the role.
“My husband…hasn’t seen a single frame [of the show] and we’re fine with that,” she said. “He believes in my talent and I don’t need his approval. So we’ve got our little system.”
The actress also talked about her relationship with Gina Rodriguez. The two women met while attending New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts and they became fast friends. Wise said Rodriguez was her first manager.
“Gina started interning at this boutique management company and gave herself an alias, like a fake name, to pitch herself…and I was her first client,” she explained. “[I] never missed an appointment.”
The two women also recently shared the screen in Netflix’s Someone Great. The movie tells the story Jenny, played by Rodriguez, who is dealing with a devastating breakup. Jenny decides to enjoy one last night in New York City with her two best friends Erin and Blair, played by Wise and Brittany Snow, respectively.
Someone Great is now available to stream on Netflix and Wise will return as Nola Darling in the second season of She’s Gotta Have It on May 24.