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‘Color of Love’ Star Deborah Joy Winans’ Life after ‘Greenleaf’ and Finding Joy in New Projects

‘Color of Love’ Star Deborah Joy Winans’ Life after ‘Greenleaf’ and Finding Joy in New Projects

Greenleaf fans know her work, but if you didn’t watch the OWN hit series (and one should really binge it if they can) then you may ask, is she one of those Winans — the gospel singing family?

Yes on that count, but Deborah Joy Winans, the daughter of singer Carvin Winans of the Winan Brothers, struck out on her own, getting her BFA and MFA degrees in acting before pursuing Hollywood. In addition to starring as the younger sister Charity on Greenleaf, she recently starred in TV One’s Don’t Waste Your Pretty

Now with Lifetime’s Color of Love, a movie about a Black woman’s passion to adopt two white children from foster care, Winans is well on her way to moving on from her former TV character. BGN talked with the actress about navigating Hollywood with a Christian faith, her family’s reaction to her success, her hopes for the future, and even what she watches on television.

You decided to become an actress. Why?

It’s all I’ve ever loved since I was a little girl. Our parents used to take us to the movies on the weekend. We’d do double features, and it was mesmerizing to me. I just loved the screen, and I just knew that was what I wanted to do and what I was meant to do. So that became my focus. 

Looking back, did your parents have any kind of reaction?

Oh, totally. I don’t know how much I shared about the depth of the love I had for it because they were taken off guard when I told them that when I got to college that I was going to major in theater. 

They were like, “What? You haven’t done anything!” So they were shocked and they were also like, “Well, hey why don’t you minor in theater and maybe major in communications or journalism?” And I was like, “Yeah, ah, no, I’m good.”  

Then they came to see my first show and they were, “Oh, this is what you do,” and they were 100% on board. 

Was there a time when you were ever discouraged in your chosen field, and if so, what did you do?

Oh, girl absolutely! I don’t know who isn’t. Especially being a woman of color, this industry is not very kind. There are going to be a lot of no’s. I think, really, anywhere worth going in life, you’re going to get some no’s before you get a yes.

Of course, there were those moments of discouragement and feeling like maybe I don’t have this, feeling that this shouldn’t be my passion. But I could never walk away from it. It let me know that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. 

And you just continue to at least take that time when you are getting no’s to continue to work on yourself and try to work on your craft and make it better and better and better. So when you do get that yes, you are ready to step into it and do your best work.

 

Is it a challenge to hold onto your Christian values while working in Hollywood, and how so?

No. I think it’s a challenge every day in life to hold onto your Christian values and beliefs because anything in life will try you. 

To do what I love and to love the Lord, I think, that’s not the challenge. The challenge is, I think, anywhere you go you’re going to have to make a choice and a decision to do what you know is right and to do what you know God has called you to do, and yet be willing to walk away from something. I see that in my field. I see that in other fields. I see that just in the simple things in life. You know, instead of putting somebody in their place because they have gotten a little out of pocket. It isn’t always necessary. 

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It’s in these moments that you really grow, when you choose not to go hard on the little things. I think that is when you see God just continuously growing you into who you are supposed to be. But I don’t find it to be a challenge because I love God more than I love my career.

Whatever I have, whatever I do, it’s because he has opened the doors for me to do it. So have no problem walking away something if that’s what it takes. I think my challenges come from everyday life — keeping my attitude right and being patient. 

Did people’s reactions around you change with Greenleaf?

No, because I didn’t have a very big circle to begin with. I’m a family girl. I’ve always just hung out with my family, and I had very few friends. The ones that I do have, those are my people. I come from the D [Detroit], and I think we are just interested in good, loyal people. I didn’t have a big circle, so I didn’t have people just popping out of the woodwork. 

Tell us a little bit about the movie and why you chose to do it?

I think it’s really necessary for the times we are living in. It just shows that — at the end of the day — the basis for all [we do] should be wrapped in love. 

It’s about a woman who has been dealt her fair share of pain and still wants to offer and do what she can out of the love that she has for human kind, for her family, for people. Her efforts have been thwarted by people who don’t understand the love and don’t have the compassion that is necessary to make sure that people are okay.

You see this woman stay the course regardless of how hard others are making it. She decides, “It doesn’t matter who is against me, I know what is the right thing to do and I’m going to do it regardless.” She’s a fighter. She’s very interesting. I really enjoyed playing this character.  

There’s so much content needed right now. Is there a particular area you are trying to concentrate on?

No, I welcome it all. I’ve spent quite a bit of time on TV, and I am very grateful for that, but I am open to it all. If it’s a great character and tells a great story, then I am interested. It’s all about what is on the page that is exciting to me. It doesn’t matter where it comes from. It just matters what it is. 

Please name some of the shows you and your husband like to watch and why.

We love a lot of things. The Walking Dead is one of our favorite shows [Winans did commentary on this Talking Dead, aftershow for Walking Dead]. It’s so stinking good! Love This Is Us, and I am starting to get into some of the movies on the streamers that I hadn’t been able to watch before. There’s so much content. 

So you guys can sit there, have snacks, and enjoy without argument?

Absolutely, absolutely. That is exactly what we do. 

Color of Love premieres Easter Sunday, April 4 at 8:00pm ET/PT on Lifetime.

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