LOS ANGELES, March 9 (UPI) -- Maahra Hill, who stars as Charlotte, N.C., attorney Delilah Connolly on OWN's new series, Delilah, said her character is "a natural hero."
"Delilah would be the David in the David and Goliath story," Hill said in a phone interview. "There's a heroic nature to her."
In her private practice, Delilah represents individuals fighting against powerful corporate opponents. In the first episode of the series, she is hesitant to take on a wrongful termination case.
Hill said she spoke with lawyers from Charlotte to prepare, and learned they would share Delilah's hesitance.
"It's not an exciting thing to do for any lawyer is to take on a wrongful termination case," Hill said.
However, Delilah's new client is the underdog against her powerful former bosses. So Delilah agrees to take her case, even though her best friend, Tamara (Jill Marie Jones), is the opposing counsel.
"I don't think she really wants to be in this position with her best friend," Hill said. "It's really just the facts of the case that make it so she can't turn it down."
Before her acting career, Hill studied political science and psychology at Northern Illinois University. She said she drew on her education for the role of Delilah.
"I was always interested in the justice system, the legal system and law," Hill said.
A hero to her clients, Delilah also is a hero outside the courtroom, Hill said. She has a son and daughter, and cares for her nephew because her brother is not able to care for his son on his own.
Delilah works to provide for her family, but also makes sure she is there to make dinner and take her daughter to violin practice. Delilah left a law firm so that she could control her caseload and hours.
"She wants to take her kids to school, drop them off and be available for dinner," Hill said. "I felt the same exact way."
Like her character, Hill has a daughter. She waited until her daughter, now 21, was an adult before pursuing acting full time.
"Motherhood, for me, was my No. 1 priority," Hill said. "Career-wise, I made sacrifices so that I could be present as a mom."
Hill said Delilah's father, ex-husband and sister-in-law become involved with her life as the series progresses. She believes many viewers will be able to relate to Delilah's struggles, juggling many aspects of her life.
"Just like everyone else, she's balancing her work life with her family life and her friendships and her budding love life," Hill said.
Hill's first film credit came in 2004 in a segment of Love Shorts. She appeared on episodes of Modern Family, Melissa & Joey, Jane the Virgin, Black-ish, How to Get Away with Murder and more.
Landing the lead role in Delilah was a different process than auditioning for guest-starring roles, Hill said. The COVID-19 pandemic forced her to send casting director Kim Coleman a tape instead of reading live for Coleman.
When Hill eventually met Delilah creator Craig Wright, she said he helped her understand the character's emotional motivation.
"[Wright was] saying, 'Here in this scene, she's coming from her heart' and things like that," Hill said. "I was like, 'Oh, I live there.'"
Delilah filmed in Charlotte under COVID-19 safety protocols. Hill felt the show captured the city in an authentic way.
"They show the beauty of the city," Hill said. "They show the kindness of the people."
Hill added that OWN owner Oprah Winfrey was directly involved with Delilah's production. Winfrey attended script readings over Zoom and gave input throughout the season.
"Oprah likes that particular comforter," Hill said. "She had quite a bit of input, actually, in the wardrobe decisions as the season progressed -- and then hair."
Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Hill was not able to speak with Winfrey directly until after Season 1 wrapped. Hill said Oprah wants to celebrate with the cast and crew of Delilah as soon as large gatherings are safe.
"She sounded very excited," Hill said. "She's looking forward to the premiere."
Delilah premieres Tuesday at 9 p.m. EST on OWN.