Friday, June 14, 2019

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Brian J. White Loves Shooting 'Ambitions' in Atlanta

We are only four days away from the premiere of the Jamey Giddens-penned and Will Packer-produced primetime soap opera Ambitions, which debuts on Tuesday, June 18 at 10 p.m. ET on OWN. Ambitions is a multigenerational family saga centered around one woman who, having recently relocated and intent on revitalizing her marriage, finds herself going head to head with some of the most powerful and deceitful players in the city. Brian J. White stars as Evan Lancaster, the Mayor of Atlanta who is married to attorney Stephanie Carlisle (Robin Givens). Evan's dream is to be the first African-American governor of Georgia and there's no line he won't cross to get there.

The all-star cast also includes Essence Atkins as Amara Hughes, a lawyer in the U.S. Attorney's Office who has newly arrived in Atlanta with her husband, Titus (Kendrick Cross); Brely Evans as Rondell, Evan's sister, who runs a not-quite-profitable restaurant called Thelma's Place; and Erica Page as Bella, a fashion designer in Atlanta who designs all of Stephanie's dresses for her.

Prior to taking on the role of Evan in Ambitions, White starred in numerous television series and films including Ray Donovan, Bronx SIU, Chicago Fire, Scandal, Hostages, Beauty and the Beast, Mistresses, Man of a Certain Age, and many more.

We Love Soaps caught up with White when we traveled to Atlanta in April to speak with the Ambitions cast. Check out what she had to say in our exclusive interview below.

WE LOVE SOAPS: What has your experience been like shooting this series in Atlanta vs. Los Angeles or other cities?
BRIAN J. WHITE: I love Atlanta. I've had a house here since 2005 in Sandy Springs so I'm a taxpayer and a big fan of Atlanta. It's been wonderful. My wife and daughter have been here with me a third of the time. They both love it here as well. I don't think there's a better place for the topics that we are touching on than a southern city like Atlanta, which seems like D.C. (Chocolate City) but still the south. We're talking about all those issues and it's in a city that's predominantly black. It sets the stage for a wonderful conversation that we're trying to have about how things really work underneath the surface.

WE LOVE SOAPS: What was your first reaction when you read the script for Ambitions?
BRIAN J. WHITE: I worked with Kevin [Arkadie] and Sheila [Ducksworth] on a previous version of this. I was running for the Mayor of Atlanta. The show got picked up and different things happened. We weren't able to make certain things happen at TV One. Sheila and I were producing partners and then she called up one day and told me she was joining forces with Will Packer. They called me up six months later and said "we have a new version of something you're familiar with and we would like you to be a part of it."

WE LOVE SOAPS: How is working for OWN network?
BRIAN J. WHITE: They let us do our thing. On another other show I worked on, there was like 650 people at the monitor and they were very specific. Here we stick to everything but we don't see the studio execs as much. OWN really collaborates with us and they are really trusting Will and his team to deliver the show that they agreed to put on the network. That's a big difference from some of the larger broadcasting networks where you can really feel the pressure. You can see the fun we’re having on this show. There’s more freedom.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Lovers, competitors, enemies, traitors, scandal—and that's just for starters! Don't miss the premiere of Ambitions on Tuesday, June 18 at 10 p.m. ET, only on OWN. Check out the Ambitions trailer below.

Shruti Sadana is a bicoastal producer and actor. She attended SUNY Purchase where she earned her B.A. in Cinema Studies. After graduating, she interned at EUE/Screen Gems in New York City and assisted with high profile events for Gen Art. She also worked on several productions behind the scenes and in front of the camera.  She recently produced the transgender rights short film ​Denim,​ starring Jazz Jennings. She also produces content and interviews celebrities for the online magazine, ​Hey Beauti. Shruti has worked on several cover photo shoots for their online platform with some of the industry’s most well known talent: Steve Howey (​Shameless, Reba), ​ Sarah Shahi ​(The L Word, Person of Interest, Reverie), ​ Emmanuelle Chriqui ​(Entourage, The Passage, You Don’t Mess with Zohan, Shut Eye). ​ Her interviews include Priyanka Chopra, Megan Fox, Malin Akerman and many more. Her positive nature, work ethic, and keen sense of understanding people on a deeper level has lead her to build strong relationships in the industry.

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