March 18 (UPI) -- Orange is the New Black and Law and Order alum Lorraine Toussaint said her feel-good drama The Village, which premieres Tuesday on NBC, honors the concepts of community and diversity without being "preachy."
The show follows the trials and triumphs of close-knit friends living in the titular Brooklyn building. It co-stars Frankie Faison, Dominic Chianese, Moran Atias, Michaela McManus, Jerod Haynes, Grace Van Dien, Warren Christie and Daren Kagasoff.
"It's hard to keep up with how many ways we're being told to turn against each other, how many ways we're being told it's 'us' and 'them,'" Toussaint said, adding she is "sick" of what she sees depicted on television news.
"It's not who we are as human beings. It's not who we are as Americans. We are a band of immigrants who came together to form this extraordinary nation. And that is what needs to be celebrated and supported and continued."
The Village does this with stories about everyday people united by proximity and a common sense of decency.
Toussaint thinks viewers will embrace its optimism.
"It is not preachy in any way, shape or form. It is about people loving each other, taking care of each other in spite of and because of their differences," she said.
The show addresses myriad hot-button topics such as aging, single motherhood, teenage pregnancy, wounded veterans and animal rights, as well as race and gender issues.
"I play a social worker, so through my character all sorts of people come through those doors," said the 58-year-old actress whose character is married to the building's super (Faison) in the show. "We're pretty much able to tackle all social issues because of the nature of the residents."
Toussaint, who was born in Trinidad and Tobago, could relate to her character because she spent the early years of her career in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of midtown Manhattan. While the origin of that moniker is not clear, the area for years was the home of several gangs and characterized by squalor and crime.
"It was a tiny building and we really were all family," she said. "I know this world."
She recalled how in her 20s she occasionally arrived home to find drug addicts shooting up in the vestibule.
"I would go to the pay phone on the corner and call a neighbor and say, 'Can you come walk me up?' I had all the neighbors' numbers and any one of them would come downstairs and get me," she said. "I love that."