Ralph Angel Bordelon: Complex, Formerly Incarcerated Single Father
Meet Ralph Angel, the complex, formerly incarcerated single father played by Kofi Siriboe (Awkward) on OWN's new drama Queen Sugar. Here, Kofi and visionary filmmaker Ava DuVernay discuss what makes Ralph Angel a unique and fascinating character.
"I feel like me and Ralph Angel are very, very similar human beings," Kofi says. "We're meeting him at a time where he's kind of been victim to circumstances and choices he made unconsciously, I feel, and he's at a point where he's really trying to take that to a next level. He's trying to really find that growth."
Ava explains why Kofi is the perfect actor for the role. "Kofi's a star," she says. "There aren't a lot of roles that are full-bodied, complex, 360 roles where young black actors are not asked to be a caricature, so I took that very seriously in finding the right person for it, and in finding him, every day I just say, 'Thank you for bringing him to us.'"
Kofi goes on to explain that parents are bound to relate to Ralph Angel. "Ralph Angel is, to me, what like a lot of single mothers represent in the world: conflicted with the struggle of trying to find that time for self-growth, making sure you're helping yourself so you can make the right choices for the one that you care about," Kofi says. "At the same time, you have somebody who's watching your every move, somebody you've got to take care of, somebody you have to, like, you know, guide into adulthood."
Ava also hopes that Ralph Angel brings attention to a nearly invisible yet significant portion of the population. "[Kofi] is really extraordinary in the depth of the work that he does and in portraying a character who's formerly incarcerated. This was something that's very important to me, really illuminating the fact that prison is far beyond a place where bad people go and allowing folks to see the day-to-day, the week-to-week journey of a formerly incarcerated man," Ava says. "What folks in that situation go through as second-class citizens is something that's quite moving, and Kofi brings such an emotional resonance to everything that he's doing in that part."
Kofi says his character is defined by internal struggle. "Now he's at a place where he wants to be good for himself and everybody around him, but he's just conflicted," he says. "Ralph Angel is a very, very complex human being."
"I think America's going to fall in love with him," Ava adds.