Born in London, England, actress Deborah Ayorinde got her first taste of acting at the age of seven, performing on stage with a drama school in the Forest Area. From there, she developed a passion for the arts and garner more experience. In addition to joining dance teams, cheerleading teams and choirs, she graduated from Howard University’s John H. Johnson School of Communications with a Bachelor of Arts in Film Production in 2009. She also won the Paul Robeson Best Actress Award for her performance in a short film that she wrote and directed.
Her other acting credits include appearances on a variety of television shows, including Meet the Browns, Necessary Roughness, The Game, Survivor’s Remorse, Constantine, Sleepy Hollow, Complications and Game of Silence. Furthermore, she scored roles in the films Bad Ass 3: Bad Asses on the Bayou and Barbershop: The Next Cut.
She recently wrapped up an incredible stint on the critically-acclaimed Netflix series Luke Cage and will soon be starring in the upcoming movie Girl Trip with Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Regina Hall. I had the pleasure of chatting with Ayorinde about her time on Luke Cage, how she felt about the season one finale and what it was like working on Girl Trip. Check it out below!
What appealed to you about the show “Luke Cage” and the character Candace Miller?
Funny enough you are asking me this, when I auditioned for the show I didn’t know much because the show was tightly concealed under a code name. But when I was cast and gained more information I immediately realized how groundbreaking the show would be. What drew me to the show was mainly the honesty. People connect with Luke Cage because the story is told so honestly. When you watch the show you can feel how aware everyone, from the cast to the crew, was. We all had a huge responsibility to tell this story genuinely. We took that responsibility very seriously and the result is a show that will go down in history.
The part about Candace Miller’s life that I immediately connected to when I auditioned for her was her working at the club and feeling out of place because she has aspirations outside of the club because I have been there. I worked as a bottle service host for a few years while I was working towards my acting career so I understood her world and her day to day struggles on a deeper level. When I got to know her more deeply I realized that she struggles a lot with being true to herself and what she knows is right. I can relate to that. Even though I’m in a much more secure and confident place now I wasn’t always there and it was tough. The viewers meet Candace when she is in the middle of that struggle and she was going through way more than I ever have. What also drew me to her and what connected to her is the fact that I looked at playing her as an opportunity to put purpose behind certain things I’ve been through.
Were you familiar with the comics before taking on the role?
I was familiar but I didn’t have nearly as much knowledge as I have now. Taking on the role obviously caused me to do my research and become aware of the cultural significance comics have. It also made me aware of the fact that comics and, especially Luke Cage, mean so much to so many.
When you read the script for the season one finale, what were your initial thoughts?
Cheo Hodari Coker actually prepped me. He took the time to call me and tell me what was going to happen so when I actually read the script I already made peace with Candace’s fate. At that point I was immensely grateful to be a part of a show I knew was going to make waves for all of the right reasons that I surprisingly wasn’t hurt or broken about what happens to Candace.
Were you satisfied with how things came to an end for Candace?
I am. Candace’s end raised the stakes for everyone. She held a lot in her hands, more than she even knew. So I’m satisfied with knowing that she also meant a lot to the other characters as well.
How will the events of the season one finale affect the next season?
At the end of season one of the characters who are on the wrong side of the law will be way more powerful and the ones who are on the right side will realize that they are up against more than they thought. To say there will be more at stake next season is an understatement.
If you could play any other character on the show, who would you want to play and why?
There is no other character I would want to play. I really feel as though the show was cast perfectly. Everyone fit like a glove.
What would you like to say to those critics complaining about the show having a full black cast?
Nothing. They clearly don’t get “it.” So what’s the point? There is way too much positive feedback surrounding the show to focus on the negative.
What can you tell me about your upcoming role in Universal’s film “Girl Trip”?
I am so excited about this film. It is going to be so much fun. It was great to reunite with Mike Colter and Director Malcolm Lee. It is a different role than I’ve ever played but the challenge made it so fun.
What was it like working with Jada Pinkett Smith, Queen Latifah and Regina Hall?
I have been a fan of each of these ladies for a very long time. Not only do I admire their work and how effortlessly talented they are but I admire the way they carry themselves and how they treat others. They are all so kind, beautiful, grounded, and strong examples and as a woman, I love being around that kind of energy.
What books, shows, movies, etc. bring out the nerd in you?
“Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown.” I’m such a big fan of the show. I feel like Anthony Bourdain has the best job ever. I’ve literally watched every episode. I’m a nerd when it comes to learning the ins and outs of other cultures. I’m that girl that will go on vacation to an exotic city and want to go to a museum instead of going to the hottest clubs so Bourdain’s show appeals to me. I’m definitely a nerd when it comes to other cultures and that show.
You can follow Ayorinde on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram at: