Getting to Know Patina Miller(Raquel Thomas) , Who Holds All the Power

For more than ten years ago, Patina Miller has been a fixture on Broadway; she won a Tony Award for the 2013 revival of Pippin and also starred in Sister Act and this summer's Into the Woods. 

But as the star of Starz's Power Book III: Raising Kanan, a prologue to and second spin-off series from Power, the novel created by Courtney Kemp and Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson, she has entered a completely new universe. 

Miller plays Raquel "Raq" Thomas, the mother of the boy who will eventually grow up to become Power's dreaded super villain, Kanan, in Sascha Penn's drama Raising Kanan. Raquel works hard to look after and protect her male-dominated family while raising her son on the rough streets of New York City in the 1980s. 

She overcomes every challenge that comes her way, including encouraging her son to get an education and do more with his life, combating rival drug lords, making all of the difficult decisions, including teaching her son to kill his father who also happens to be a police offer, and nurturing relationships with women in need. Later this year, Raising Kanan will return for a second season, and Miller admits that the first season's cliffhangers were difficult for fans to resolve. When the program returns on August 14, she's excited to talk about how she came to understand Raquel even in her darkest moment and what she hopes viewers will see in season 2. 

Who Is Patina Miller, asks Vanity Fair? 

Patina Miller is a Southern woman who once had a tremendous goal of doing what she is able to achieve now as an adult. I was raised by a single mother who paved the road for me to discover the arts. I truly like that and didn't stop doing it. I was prepared to take on such a dynamic role as a severely damaged character in Raising Kanan thanks to my experience and my upbringing in South Carolina. Everything in my life has brought me to this moment. So who is Patina Miller, I suppose? She's just a young woman who had a dream and worked hard to make it come true. She now makes sure that everything I want can come true. 

What was it like making the switch from Broadway to a scripted series? 

Going from Broadway to TV was definitely a tremendous learning curve for me, especially on the technical side of things. When performing for cameras on a [TV] set, you're not playing for a crowd of a thousand people; rather, you have to capture the performance. I've enjoyed being able to experiment with how I can still bring all of the drama, all of the heightened emotions, and all of the other things I usually bring to the stage. How can I change that to a TV set where the camera is actually kind of watching everything you do? The hardest part was not having the audience there to kind of feed off of me. However, I adore them both because I've used everything I've learned from my theater and acting school to my TV job, and I simply feel incredibly excited to sort of just layer everything I know into developing a three dimensional character for television. 

Is there a certain thing you can accomplish in your parts on television that you can't do on Broadway, or is there anything particularly difficult about TV that we don't see? 

Its longevity, in my opinion, is truly what makes it difficult. Therefore, when working in theater, you do your play in two hours, and then you go home. However, with TV, it takes a very long period. You awaken between three and four in the morning, and then a procedure is underway. Up until you start filming, your process is quite jumbled. 

Thus, for me, a major part of it is trying to stay in character during the reset, where the camera switches, or while you're acting out the next scene, making it longer and keeping you more immersed in the role. Because we have the gift of time on our side, this job allows me to sort of have those moments, to really be mindful about my character, the work, and what I want to do. You simply have to trust your instincts on stage because things move quickly, it's a performance, and people are watching. Really, you don't get that kind of procedure. 

How did you get the part of Raquel Thomas on Raising Kanan? 

I had just finished my run on Madam Secretary, which fortunately had a long run. Things were about to change for our sixth season, and I was thinking, "What am I going to do next? I've spent six years with one character. It's kind of a scary place to be, you know. I just so happened to be talking to the right people about Power at the right time and in the right location. They just said, "We have this character," without ever explaining what the show was about. because I informed them the kind of three-dimensional characters I wanted to play. I have to be very deliberate about the things I want to do when I'm in a room, and you have to say that for it to happen. 

I've never finished reading a script so quickly, and when I did, I got a little choked up because I thought, "Oh my God, I get this woman. This woman I know." I am aware of her internal conflict. I have experienced what it's like to be a young mom's child as well as a mother. And I understand what it's like to hold a position of authority where you are always being questioned by males and forced to prove yourself. Raq was able to play a variety of roles, and I appreciated that the entire screenplay allowed for that. not simply the powerful woman, as that's simple. 

Strong is the simple role for black women to assume. But I appreciate that you got to show her vulnerable side with her son, her flirty and seductive side with Symphony, how much she resembles a mama bear when she meets Unique, and then just the matriarch when the family is all present and that love. 

And I like Sascha Penn, the creator of our program, who was so open to discussing the procedure, what I saw for the character, and the pitfalls I wanted to avoid with this character. And it was merely a procedure where my voice was important. They trusted my intuition, and I trusted mine. Thus, everything sort of transpired as it was planned to. 

Did you recognize any similarities in yourself that helped you perform this part since you were raised by a single mother? 

Absolutely. I seized every opportunity I could. And I came to the conclusion that Raq is a lot of women, which is why it feels so similar and why Raq feels so familiar. Whether you're black, white, or any other color, it's kind of a universal thing. My single mother, who was 15 when she became pregnant with me, reared me in the South. And I understand what it's like for a parent to develop along with their child. Raq is pushing Kanan to live a life similar to how my mother told me not to have children till I was fifteen. 

Just continue your education and pursue your goals. She was harsh with me, but it served a purpose. She wished for me to take in more. She wished for me to not become like her. Raq wants more of that, in fact. She is completing all of these tasks that she dislikes. However, the situation is what it is. She excels at this, as well. She excels in her kingdom. She is in charge. She is the sharpest person in the room, thus nobody should ever underestimate her. 

Observing how gender roles are portrayed in the show is really interesting. It's also fascinating to see Raq, the middle child, push her two brothers about because they each have their own problems that affect their ability to make wise decisions. 

And they keep asking her questions. People complain that Raq never stops bugging them. They always believe they are smarter than she is. And she needs to keep reminding them that you don't, in fact. "I'm going to give you warning," she says. Don't doubt me; have faith in me. I am competent in my work. The risks then increase, even with her own son. So you finally witness the brutality. People claim that is when the negative Raq emerges. But since she has been saying, "I don't want to use violence," the entire season, that doesn't happen until [episodes] eight, nine, and 10. I'm not going to do it. No matter what, the streets will arrive, right? Therefore, I suppose I must do what must be done at this time. 

I particularly adore the interplay between her and Jukebox, and how tenderly and carefully she tends to that bond in light of Raq's intervention as the needed maternal figure. 

It's uplifting to witness women supporting one another on television. I genuinely valued those relationships, therefore I wanted them to stay that way. You see why we frequently witness women at odds with one another, particularly black women? She moves the jukebox. Just as Kanan is her child, so is Jukebox. Raq has consistently had to clean up after Marvin after his numerous mistakes. And that necessitates looking after his child. Additionally, she has done everything for the two of them. Additionally, she urges Jukebox to be himself, which is powerful. You be you; I'm not your father. 

What was it like to work with 50 Cent, Courtney Kemp, Sascha Penn, and the rest of the cast while playing a part that was developed within the Power Book universe? 

I believe that the reason why people enjoy it and why it has become a phenomenon is because they portrayed these genuinely imperfect, non-glitzy characters in the environment that Courtney Kemp and 50 Cent created. It wasn't fancy at all. These are actual people going through actual situations. then entering the Raising Kanan universe, to which it is a precursor. It essentially tells the backstory of one of the Power universe's most divisive characters. And that intrigues me because you constantly wonder how someone can turn into such a horrible person. You're interested in learning about that upbringing. Therefore, it already makes it wealthy. 

Have you seen anything in particular from Season 1 that shocked you? And what kind of development do you anticipate we will see in Raq for Season 2? 

The eighth episode, in which Raq travels to instruct Kanan how to murder his father, comes to mind. When I read it, I was personally very angry with her. I had been in the car with her the entire time. The moment I read that on the page, I contacted Sascha and said, "They're going to despise me! God, oh God! Then he made a compelling case, saying that "Raq is doing what she needs to do for the family." She is convinced. And I respond, "You're right, of course! She genuinely believes it! Raquel is aware that part of what she's doing might not be appropriate, but she must persevere and keep telling herself to "keep it together, keep it together."

We were all trying to figure out how Kanan got to be such a bad person during the Power series, so it's crazy to learn that he comes from such a strong support system. Yes, just like every other family, his has its issues, but overall, they work well together. Therefore, we are eager to see how this narrative develops further. 

It comes as a huge surprise. And I'll mention Sascha Penn again since without him, none of this would be possible. His attention to detail, his use of scene structure, and really just the variety of events involving these characters and how smoothly everything fits together and has a purpose are all impressive. In this world, every character has a unique purpose. It is, in fact, excellent television. 

And because that was only the beginning, you're not prepared for this second season. We were getting to know these folks, and now there are no longer any relationships. Can we turn around after that? Family is family, you know. Will they reunite again? They won't they? And in the second season, we deal with that quite a bit. Every action had repercussions. What do you do and do you go back? Will Raq retain her throne or will she abdicate it? Therefore, it's quite intriguing. I can hardly wait for folks to see.

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