Nova Bordelon: Journalist, Herbalist, Activist

Season 1
CC | tv-pg
Nova Bordelon, the journalist/herbalist/activist played by Rutina Wesley (True Blood), is the oldest child of the three Bordelon siblings on OWN's Queen Sugar. Here, Rutina and visionary filmmaker Ava DuVernay discuss the character's motivations and varied passions.

Ava begins by praising Rutina's performance. "She's stunning to look at and really embodies all the beauty of the role," Ava says. "She brings such a depth and a soulfulness to this character, who is an herbalist, a black nationalist, a radical, a journalist. I really needed someone who could embody all the contradictory elements of Nova."

Rutina says that playing Nova was a unique challenge. "My character Nova is a very driven, passionate woman who I've come to love deeply," she says. "You know, she's very challenging to me as an actor because she has so many layers."

As Ava points out, Nova wears many different hats. "Nova is a Black Lives Matter activist who's involved with a cop," Ava says. "She is a healer in the tradition of the great priestesses of New Orleans and Louisiana in the South, and yet she's very much in the world as a journalist at a major paper."

Rutina explains the self-reflection in her character's journey. "So, you know, the struggle I think we're going to find with Nova is, I think, where does her humanity meet with her journalism," Rutina says, "and where does her heart and drive cause her to say, 'How can I effect change in the world? How can I make a difference?'"

One thing's for sure: Rutina would not mess with Nova. "I'm intimidated by Nova, actually, because she is so sharp," Rutina says. "I kind of joke and say, 'Nova's like five things that I am and like 15 things I've always wanted to be.'"

Ava ends by saying Rutina is the perfect actress for the job. "It really required an actress who could unify all the parts of her, and so Rutina Wesley can bring all of these complex ideas and unify them in one character so beautifully, and so I think people will really love what she's doing."

OWN's drama series Queen Sugar airs Wednesdays at 10/9c.