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Pauletta Washington Shares How ‘Reasonable Doubt’ Impacts the Culture

Pauletta Washington Shares How ‘Reasonable Doubt’ Impacts the Culture

Recently, BGN had the opportunity to sit down and have a Zoom interview with Mrs. Pauletta Washington from the legal drama: Reasonable Doubt. This hit series is brought to viewers by Hulu’s Onyx Collective, a dynamic all-Black writers’ room, showrunner Raamla Mohamed, and Executive Producer Kerry Washington.

Reasonable Doubt is the new fan fave. Everyone’s talking about it, and you, Miss Mama Lu! [Laughs] With her all-knowing side-eye, and nosy questions, fans absolutely love her. 

[Laughs] YES, YES, YES, YES! I love that you caught the side eyes! 

Of course! Your character is so relatable and enthralls the viewer. The show spotlights legal attorneys in a way we haven’t seen before, especially within our community. To watch high power attorney Jax Stewart, the central character, through her journey–who she is in the workroom and outside of it — is intriguing!

The writing, first of all, is top-notch. t’s not cliche. It’s authentic, thoughtful and thought-provoking! The conversations that are written are ones that most of us have had or have been privy to hearing, you know?

Regardless of whether we’ve been involved, that makes for an amazing experience for the actor! We really have an amazing cast. So it’s one of the best experiences I’ve had, and Raamla is beyond herself. She’s amazing — I love her!

That’s good to hear because what people pick up from the first episode is authenticity. What we love about your character, Mama Lu, who plays the mother of Jax, is that we met her before. Not just on screen, but she often mirrors people in our own lives!

She does, and on top of that, this is her only child!

Sometimes who our parents are can be a reflection of ourselves. That’s important in our community regarding what we keep and take away because we want to have our own identity. As we see with Jax, her personal life constantly clashes with her professional career. 

Constantly!

And as a mother, you’re quick to remind her: “Hey! You’ve got to be a mom. You have to be a wife.” These moments come from a deep place of love and a mother’s innate desire to ensure that her child is safe and okay, even if it’s a little annoying. [Laughs] Have you found any parallels between Mama Lu and yourself?

Oh, for sure! Not only myself, but my mother, my grandmother, my aunties, and several women who were in the village of my growing up influenced me. I mean there are so many people I am drawing from, which is one of the reasons I was so excited about doing it because there are so many others!

She’s a complex woman, and as you will see and see more, I think last week’s episode revealed a little more. Being the matriarch of the family so far is quite a responsibility, and she takes it seriously.

Also, she’s not short of reminding Jax how long she’s been a paralegal for all these many years, right? So many times that Jax even knows what’s coming up! [Laughs] Also, her desire is to keep the family together, so I have my family — my mom and dad worked together the whole time. You know I tried to find out where divorce happened in my family, and it was generations and generations ago, but I had friends whose families experienced being divorced or separated. 

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So then I could see whether that influence was good or bad. For some of the people whose parents separated, it was a good thing for the child. The tension in the home was so extraordinary that it made for a dire situation — although the results later flourished as they got older. So, it’s interesting, dynamic, and gives a whole lot of background to study and draw from as an actor.

The show reflects how uncommon it is to be transparent in discussing sensitive issues such as divorce and the ripple effect it may have generations from now. In the series, we see that’s still something that Jax struggles with day to day — which is why Mama Lu is quick to remind her to keep the family foundation together. With that in mind, what do you hope the Black community gains from the show’s messaging?

I want us to remain unified within the family and then within the community. Because as we see, it takes the village, it really does! This is about the village and where it starts, which is in the family, you know? Keeping communication is a big factor in this in Reasonable Doubt, both for Jax in her career and personal life. I think that’s the key!

Agreed! Lastly, as we mentioned earlier — there’s an authenticity that the show delivers, but even more importantly, complexity! 

Absolutely, there is!

As viewers watch this series, one’s mind changes every few seconds because there’s always more than meets the eye! [Laughs] The show is doing so well because it goes beyond the surface level of human desire and explores how complex we are as humans. 

From your perspective, what are you hoping viewers take away from this series? As we grow older, we keep thinking that we’ll have life figured out, but that couldn’t be any further from the truth! So, what are some lessons that audiences can learn from the show?

If someone is observing this show, they stay open to rolling with the punches! We, as a community, do that. Hopefully, this show will keep us in that realm. We are now exposed to so many things because of the internet and our access to knowledge. Not all knowledge is not wisdom! 

If we continue to stay within our strengths as a people and as a community and keep tapping into that. You know, do not get distracted by all the craziness. I think that Reasonable Doubt shows that because it really does! Through every character, we see that.

Keep your eyes on the prize, folks! 

[Laughs] Yes, keep our eyes on the prize and continue to embrace each other!

Reasonable Doubt streams Tuesdays on Hulu. Did you catch this week’s season finale? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter @BlackGirlNerds!

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