Gloria Reuben is a classic triple threat: an actor, singer, and dancer who impresses on stage, screen, and in song. Really, she’s one of those over-achievers—she’s been playing the piano since she was five!–you should be annoyed with but you can’t because she’s too damn likable and to hear giggle is everything. She’s been a backup singer and dancer for Tina Turner, played opposite Daniel Day-Lewis and Sally Field in Lincoln and stolen million a heart as Jeanie Boulet in E.R. Currently she’s starring in Freeform’s Cloak and Dagger as Adina Johnson, a mother besieged by grief and unknowingly raising a superhero son. You can also catch her in NY this September where she’ll be “at the piano for the complete show, as she performs tunes from her favorite male singer/songwriters in the debut of her show The Men I Love.” Here we discuss her show, its cultural impact, and how she manages to look so damn flawless.
One of the many things I love about the show is how it handles grief and shows it in its many forms. Adina tends to really lock things down and block her feelings. In the last episode, we saw that she hasn’t even memorialized Billy on his anniversary. As the person who plays her, do you feel that it’s just too painful, or has she never really fully grieved for fear of falling apart again and never coming back together? And is her denial self-protective, or protective of Ty?
Well, I think that grief plays many parts in her relationship with Ty, but I think you hit it spot on, frankly. Protective of herself, and protective of Ty as well. The whole season hasn’t aired yet, as you know. So, more will be revealed and, of course, I can’t talk about the episodes that haven’t aired yet. Grief and yet survival play kind of dueling forces with Adina. She, of course, wants to keep her family together. Ty is, as young people do, is growing up, and she wants him to be independent and a strong young man, and yet she is terrified of losing another son as was revealed in the second episode when he sees her deepest fear. Right? So, it’s always as an actress… always much more fun and much more… maybe interesting for the viewer to see someone who is struggling to keep it together and knowing underneath that they are barely keeping it together.
Race is beautifully touched on in a number of ways on the show. From how they flip the script on Ty and Tandy in the comics, to white privilege, and every day fears people of color face. What kind of conversations do you hope result from this show, and have you already witnessed some, perhaps say on social media?
Well, I don’t really read a lot of… I’m on social media to promote the show, of course, and to catch up with things. But I don’t spend a lot of time on social media with the response for the show, I have to say. But what I have heard, whether in person, or emails that I have gotten personally, or in what I’ve read in reviews, and what I have seen online, pretty much the conversation is one that is expanding and one that I think is vital to have. As we all know, race is a very pivotal, poignant, timely issue, and it has been for God knows how long.
But, I think it’s terrific that this show is really underneath the umbrella to the young people who have superpowers and very much a prevalent thread that’s woven through the fabric that will continue to open the possibilities for more conversations about race and about grief and about how did the family fall apart or how did they stick together, and about if one of their themes, I’m paraphrasing here, that Tyrone says something to the effect of, “She would be able to pickpocket and be okay, but if he were to do that it would be a whole another different story.” Right? Because he’s a young black man. Right. So, of course, obviously, the element that his older brother was shot by a police officer definitely plays into that. So, there are all of these socially relevant stories at play here that somehow is really intricately portrayed. I love that the writing has been really great in that way. Every episode I enjoy watching more and more.
Definitely. It touches on so many issues. Like I said, from the grief to race issues, drug issues, homelessness. I think that is putting a real light on so many issues that do touch young people, and often aren’t talked about. And that I think is one of the things that makes it so impactful.
Yeah. I agree. Especially the last three things that you mentioned: homelessness, drug abuse, single parents, grief, tragedy, rage, race. I mean, it’s covering so many elements. Socially and personally and spiritually. I mean, it’s great.
Is there an issue that you, yourself would like to see the show tackle that has yet to be done?
Wow. I don’t know what that could be. [laughs] I think we have plenty of plates in the air so far in terms of issues that could be tackled. One thing that I have thought about and talked about with the showrunner, one thing I’m curious to learn more about is Adina’s marriage. You know? Because I think there’s more there. There’s more to discover. And I don’t know what is planned for the second season. I just know that for me personally, as an actor, that’s the one area where I guess my mind dives into that just a little bit more. I mean, there have been scenes where off-camera you hear Tyrone hears his parents arguing, but I don’t know I think there is more to view. There’s more layers there that I’m curious to see.
I would like to see that too. This question comes from a fan – @CloakDaggerPod. How is it playing opposite such a relative newcomer as Aubrey, and have you given him any advice?
Well, Aubrey is such a natural and yet in a way, he’s kind of one of those old souls. Right? He’s really smart. Really sweet. Very Funny. Very grounded, and he has a good head on his shoulders. So, we’ve talked about certain things. I really would rather not give details. Those are conversations I like to keep close to the chest. He’s certainly an overall… frankly, he doesn’t need any advice from me. He’s doing just fine, and I know he’s got a great support team.
With that being said, if he ever wanted advice, I know he knows he could always come to me. So, that’s for sure. I do believe and I do know that particularly as a young actor starting out that how I am on the set can offer a lot of unspoken advice. It’s like, you’re watching me learn. You know what I mean? I’ve been around a long time, and I think that how I handle myself especially on set is, hopefully, so also the best advice ever.
I know that the cast is very musical. You sing. Olivia sings. I know Aubrey is a dancer. And clearly, this show isn’t such where we might see that, but I’m curious if you all interact musically and do those kinds of thing off-set? Like just hanging around?
[laughs]I know, that’s funny. No. We haven’t really done that. Maybe there will be more of that next season. It’s interesting because I rarely see Olivia. We haven’t had any scenes together. I mean, there was that one scene where she visits Tyrone’s house Right? So, I don’t really hang out with her that much, but Ty is he’s so great when we’re filming our scenes. Also, for the most part, when Aubrey and I are doing our scenes, they can be pretty in-depth. Like kinda pretty intense scenes. You know? It’s not that you don’t joke along, but you kind of… I don’t be myself, frankly. I kind of stay in it. Do you know while you’re working? But that’s just my process, but who knows. Maybe music is such a great element, and you’re absolutely right. There’s a lot of music within the people. So, hopefully, we’ll be able to explore that a little bit more next season.
This last question comes from a fan and also my sister. How do you manage to look so flawless, and never age?
That’s the perfect question to end this. [laughs] That’s the best question ever! [laughs] I’m definitely happy to answer that question. Okay. First of all, I love that question, [still giggling] and that’s a very sweet thing to say. This is kind of a running gag because I say this with all humbleness. Truly, 100% humbleness. I am very happy to say that people ask me that question a little bit. So, this is my go-to answer. It’s two things: red wine and yoga.
Oh, I love it! That’s awesome.
For some reason, that seems to be the combination. So far, so good. I mean everything in moderation. I’m not talking about drinking a lot of red wine. I’m just saying, you know, a glass of red at the end of it. Yoga in the morning seems to kind of balance things out. So far, so good. I’m sticking with it.
I don’t know about you guys, but my sister and I will be jumping on that regimen just as soon as possible.
You can follow Gloria on Twitter, Instagram and her website, where you can purchase concert tickets. And be sure to watch Cloak and Dagger tonight at 8/7pm C on Freeform and next week for the season finale.