“The Haves and the Have Nots,” is proving to be a hit for the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN), which has ordered a fourth season of the primetime soap opera. The show was OWN’s biggest premier and dubbed the network’s “biggest success story,” by Variety. The soap opera is the latest product to roll off Tyler Perry Studios’ successful production line and has proven to be a great showcase for veteran stage actress Angela Robinson.
“Most of my work has been on stage, this is my first big role on television,” she said.
Robinson said Tyler Perry has changed the face of the entertainment industry.
“I think he [Tyler Perry] has changed it tremendously,” said Robinson, who plays the villainous Veronica Harrington. “He came before ‘Scandal,’ before ‘Empire,’ before the Black resurgence on television, Tyler Perry was doing it. He came and put Black actors, who hadn’t worked in years, back to work. He gave them an outlet.”
Robinson added Perry also employs several hundred people at his Atlanta, Ga.-based studio where, “The Haves and the Have Nots” is filmed.
“His studio is cutting edge and state-of-the-art. It does great business for the city of Atlanta,” she said. “He has done great for the arts.”
Robinson is based in New York, but flies to Atlanta to shoot the show. She also makes it out to Los Angeles occasionally to visit, audition and do publicity work with Perry.
A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Robinson had been working on the stage for almost two decades, when she was called to try out for a bit part in Perry’s “Meet the Browns.” She didn’t get the role, but the casting director called her back, when they were looking for actors for “The Haves and Have Nots.”
“I was doing a play in Atlanta, and the casting director was in the audience, and asked me to audition for ‘Meet the Browns,’ at the time,” Robinson said. “I didn’t get the role. A year later they asked me to audition for Veronica.”
“The Haves and the Have Nots” focuses on a diverse group of wealthy and working-class families in Savannah, Ga. Apart from tackling class issues, the show also touches several other controversial topics such as religion, homosexuality, prostitution, suicide, rape and abortion. Robinson said the show is not your “grandmother’s soap opera,” and also draws in male viewers.
“Men love the show,” Robinson said. “I get the same amount of comments from men as I do from women.”
She has heard that many of the male fans watch with their wives and appreciate the beautiful women on the show.
“The Haves and the Have Nots” also marks a departure from Perry’s usual fare, because the cast features White, Black and Latino characters. This has attracted a diverse audience.
“The fans are a broad spectrum of people. We have a large Black fan base, but the fan base is spread from throughout the races,” Robinson said. “It’s extremely diverse; it [the show] speaks to so many different types of people.”
Robinson is working in an era where there appears to be an increasing number of leading roles for Black actresses on TV shows such as “Sleepy Hollow,” “Scandal,” “Being Mary Jane,” and “How to Get Away With Murder.”
“I think it’s changing,” Robinson said. “I don’t think it has changed enough.” She hopes the phenomenon of casting Black actresses in high-profile roles doesn’t turn into a short-lived fad that eventually goes away.
“Right now, it’s popular to have Black leading ladies,” she said.
“The Haves and the Have Nots” cast also makes the use of social media to interact with their enthusiastic fans. Robinson will live tweet the premiere from her Twitter account @angelarobschild and also post updates on Instagram.
“They [our fans] love the show and can’t wait for the show to come back,” she said. “We feel we have the best fans out there.”
Robinson is optimistic about the future of “The Haves and the Have Nots.”
“We just filmed the fourth season,” she said. “Hopefully, I will be talking to you when we are filming our 10th season. I don’t think Tyler Perry is going to cease to deliver. I predict the show is going to be around a long time.”