"Little Fires Everywhere," the surprise miniseries hit on streaming platform Hulu, unleashed it's final episode on Wednesday, but of several explosive moments throughout the season, the Black lesbian romance between artist Mia Warren (Kerry Washington), and art professor, Pauline Hawthorne (Anika Noni Rose), proved to be the onscreen relationship LGBTQ viewers needed.
Based on the 2017 novel by author Celeste Eng, "the story explores the weight of secrets, the nature of art and identity, the ferocious pull of motherhood, and the danger in believing that following rules can advert disaster."
Rose, a Tony Award-Winner (Caroline or Change) spoke to The Advocate about how she approached the role, her choices as an actor, and how she handled the complexities of a budding student/teacher romantic relationship with care.
When Pauline's budding relationship with Mia became romantic, it had the potential to be a tricky minefield to navigate, the possibility of an exploitive teacher-student storyline hanging over their heads. Rose and actress Tiffany Boone, who plays the young Mia, both took care to ensure the relationship was tender, honest, and respectful. "We've seen enough predators," Rose says. "We have certainly seen enough gay predators that make it seem like that's the only way homosexuals are formed, because of predatory people. I didn't want that to be this narrative."
"She worked on the script and her own acting choices to ensure the romance was not only consensual but soft and loving. "It was handled with great care and it was important to me, the actor. It wasn't written in the script for Mia to make the first move, but it was important for me to allow her the agency to make whatever move that she was going to make," Rose says. When I asked her, 'Where do you think we are?' I put nothing on it. I put no hope into it. I put no longing in my face, in my body, but I just asked her so that I would know."
"Little Fires Everywhere" is currently streaming on Hulu.