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Meagan Good: 'Harlem' character a 'perfectly imperfect mess'

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Meagan Good: 'Harlem' character a 'perfectly imperfect mess'
Meagan Good stars in the Amazon Prime Video original series "Harlem." File Photo by Chris Chew/UPI | License Photo

LOS ANGELES, Dec. 3 (UPI) -- Meagan Good said her character on Harlem, premiering Friday on Prime Video, allowed her to show her quirky side.

Good plays Camille, a Columbia University adjunct professor who is struggling in her career and dating life.

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"What I think I fell in love with most is who she is at the core and this kind of perfectly imperfect mess," Good told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. "She is vulnerable, she can be insecure and when things aren't going her way, she can really spiral."

Good, 40, has been acting in film and television since she was 10. But she said she rarely gets the opportunity to play characters as complex as Camille, who is educated, ambitious to join the Columbia faculty, politically active and adept at social media -- and her foibles don't compromise those qualities.

"All these things that make up a human being can be very messy," Good said. "Just because you spiral or because you're insecure doesn't mean you can't still excel in these things."

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Camille's quirky side often comes out in her love life. A scene in which Camille prepares for a date allowed Good to film a montage in front of a mirror trying on different outfits.

"There's some of me in Camille, for sure," Good said. "I haven't had a chance to do any type of physical comedy [before]. She's a little bit of a dork, and I love that about her."

Camille's friends, Tye (Jerrie Johnson), Quinn (Grace Byers) and Angie (Shoniqua Shandai), support each other while they strive to find love and success. Harlem creator Tracy Oliver said each character is a composite of her real friends.

"I try to mix and match, merging different personality traits because I don't want any one person to feel like I'm writing too closely about their life," Oliver said. "But there are elements my friends will see and be like, 'OK, really?'"

Oliver also adapted The First Wives Club into a TV series and wrote the film Girls Trip. Oliver said the four friends in Harlem share one quality with her other female-focused projects.

"I always want it to be a love fest for women," Oliver said. "While there are a lot of comedic moments, that's always where I land. I land in a heartfelt place of just love and friendship."

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A love of food is what led Oliver to New York's Harlem. The South Carolina native said Harlem is the only other place in which she can find authentic home cooking.

"Outside of the South, you can't really get authentic soul food," Oliver said. "My way into loving Harlem, honestly, was fried chicken and collard greens, which is so basic, but I was like, 'Oh, this is a real soulful place.'"

Good, a California native, said she gravitated toward Harlem restaurants Melba's and Red Rooster while filming in the city, as well as Minton's Jazz Club.

"We got to hang out afterward and just sit and eat," Good said.

During filming, Good also experienced Harlem neighborhood pride. In one episode of the show, Camille protests a neighborhood bar being closed for redevelopment.

Good said Harlem citizens worried the bar really was being closed and interrupted filming to protest. Good said it showed her that Camille represented real people in the city.

"People really were showing up in the neighborhood like, 'This is mine. This is ours. This is a part of who we are. If y'all are coming in here, even if it's a legal thing, we're going to try to stop you,'" Good said. "I love that."

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Oliver still hopes the cast of Girls Trip can take another comic vacation in a sequel. She said cast members Tiffany Haddish, Regina Hall, Queen Latifah and Jada Pinkett Smith want to do another film, but are negotiating for pay commensurate with the success of the first film.

"The remaining issue is budget. Everybody wants a raise because everyone did not make money the first time around," Oliver said. "It's a no-brainer to me."

All 10 episodes of Harlem Season 1 are available Friday on Prime.

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