On Feb. 25, Soul Food kicks off its fifth — and final — season on Showtime. At least the all-black ensemble drama is going out on a high note. Soul boasts seven nominations for the 35th NAACP Image Awards (airing March 11 on Fox). Three of the nods are for outstanding actress in a drama series: Nicole Ari Parker, Malinda Williams and Vanessa Williams. For the women who play the Joseph sisters, it's a bittersweet time.
"As soon as I met all the cast members in the audition process," Malinda says, "I told everybody, 'Y'all know we got a hit, right? Don't play.' I mean, really, from the door. The first two episodes were so incredibly written, and I knew the caliber of actors that were representing these characters. I knew we were going to be a hit."
"Even though Malinda saw the writing on the wall ahead of us," Vanessa interjects, "we were praying, 'From your mouth to God's ears!'" Since they were often busy shooting on Soul's Toronto set, the cast was genuinely stunned at learning their show was an African-American cult hit. "The responses from people stopping us in airports and really giving us love was incredible for us," she says, "because we were, like, secluded.
"We got Soul Food babies," Vanessa adds, referring to two die-hard fans who met on Showtime's message boards, got hitched and had a child. Indeed, many fans were inspired by the show's rare depiction of romance between people of color. "People stop everything [to watch]," she says. "No one can call them on Wednesday night, when the show airs."
At least, after this season wraps, Soul Food will live on in reruns on BET and on DVD. "I think the dramatic implications of being African-American are chock full of enough absurd reality and absurd stories that it could last another five seasons," Parker says, laughing. "There's no need to get fantastical or anything that [other shows do]. [Soul's plots] are all really simple stories. I think black people make good television!"