Touted as being the number one original program on the network, “The Haves and the Have Nots” follows the complicated dynamic between the rich and powerful Cryer family and the hired help who work in their opulent Savannah, Georgia mansion. From the outside, the Cryers are the enviable face of success and wealth, but behind the veil, the family’s dysfunction threatens to destroy their world of privilege. Cryer family patriarch Jim Cryer (John Schneider, “Dukes of Hazzard”) is a powerful judge whose double-life, including tawdry affairs with high-priced escorts, puts his family and political ambitions at risk. His wife, Katheryn Cryer (Renée Lawless, “Wicked”), is the ultimate matriarch portraying a loving and dutiful wife, but she is willing to do anything to protect her family’s status.
Juggling success and family secrets, their wealthy friends Veronica (Angela Robinson) and David Harrington (Peter Parros) and son Jeffrey, a rehabilitation counselor, the Harrington family gives the Cryer family a run for the money in high stakes drama and upper class societal trappings.
Last fall, I spoke with Angela Robinson about the impact the show is making and the fun she’s having as a powerful attorney, stoic wife and have-it-her-way, relentless mother.
Talk2SV: Veronica Harrington knows what she wants and why she wants it. Let’s open her up and discuss this woman of might and means –her emotional and her intelligence quotients– who is she?
Robinson: Oh, I would love to do that. Emotionally, she may be a little bit shut down because I think she has not allowed herself to be vulnerable in a long time yet that’s how she’s acquired much of what she has. She’s a bulldog and probably is not allowed to be as vulnerable as she would like to be except with her husband, which is why it’s so disappointing that he’s keeping secrets from her. But she is definitely available and open with her husband. I think being the powerful woman as she is doesn’t allow her to be vulnerable with other people.
Talk2SV: Highly publicized and reported on, “The Have and the Have Nots” TV show has boosted the ratings for the OWN television property. Have there been any adjustments since the success of the show for you personally? As an actor, did it change your course, in any way?
Robinson: You know I hope so. It’s too soon to tell but I hope that it does. I’ve been doing theatre for a long, long time and have guest spots on television shows; I’ve never experienced a permanent role on a series so I definitely would love to do more television. I get recognized now a little bit which is very interesting because of the popularity of the show; so I’m always happy that people are watching and supporting and loving the show, that’s always a good thing for me.
Talk2SV: The pace, the tempo, the verve of this show has a polish to it and I credit that glowing appeal to the actors, the dialogue and just the construct of the story. How long did it take the cast to find the rhythm of the show?
Robinson: I think we all have a different story about when it clicked. For me, it clicked around episode six or so but everybody has a different story. For some, it clicked during the second or third episode. It just depends what they had to do in those episodes, also, just how much time they had to work with each actor and with Tyler Perry for everything to come together. It takes times. With my TV family, the Harringtons, we actually got together, went to dinner, and got to know one another off set so that we could have some sort of chemistry on set; that helped a lot.
Talk2SV: Your response sets up my next question. The relationship between Veronica and David Harrington appears more arrangement than romantic. Is that perception accurate or fair?
Robinson: No not at all. I think they’re very much in love. It’s interesting when people are powerful that way they sometimes allow greed and ambition to get in the way of what they first found beautiful about their relationship. I think that’s what this couple has done. I know that they love one another; I know that they had a beautiful thing at one time, but other things have gotten in the way and that’s the bottom line. I hope they find it again but, who knows, you’ll just have to keep watching.
Talk2SV: There are a few scenes that I’d just like to elaborate on a bit. For one, we know Veronica was once an accomplished and successful attorney; that she stopped working perhaps allows us to surmise that she stopped working because it was getting the way of love within her relationship.
Robinson: I agree with you, which may be one thing, yes.
Talk2SV: Then knowing that, there was a scene in an episode last season when Veronica’s husband discovers she’s had him followed and I wondered how was she going to wiggle out of that; the line Veronica delivered, ‘well sweetheart you know I’m crazy sometimes,’ for me was pregnant with an explosive back story.
Robinson: You know, I don’t think that was the first time Veronica had him followed or followed him herself; not out of some adolescent jealousy, just because she will not be outdone, she will not be lied to, she won’t be deceived. So in order to know those things–she’s a lawyer who knows how to have people investigated and her husband knows that–she puts it on being crazy but it’s really not about being crazy. Her actions and decisions are all about security and being in the know more than anything.
Talk2SV: You bring up a very salient point about relationships: be secure within them. I don’t care where a woman measures on the rung of the ladder of success, security and self esteem are at the top. Feeling secure, wanting the security of that relationship, it has no boundary.
Robinson: No it doesn’t. I think the desire for it is even greater the more you have and the more power you have because the numbers of people that you can trust, the numbers of people that really know you are so few. When your inner circle is doing something that’s not quite right, you’ve got to check it out immediately to be sure that your image, that your life, that everything you’ve built is secure. It’s not even about you anymore, it becomes about your empire, it becomes about everything that you’ve worked for.
Stay tuned to Talk2SV for part 2—