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'Motherland: Fort Salem' Demetria McKinney Shares Why Reality TV Isn't For Her

Posted by Iesha Marie on April 15, 2020 at 5:25 PM

Demetria McKinney in ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ (Freeform/David Bukach)

*Demetria McKinney has done a lot across the entertainment spectrum. She’s a singer, an actress appearing in “The Saints and Sinners” and Tyler Perry’s “Meet the Paynes.” She also had a stint in reality TV on “The Real Housewives of Atlanta.” Her latest role takes place in a world we have never seen, set in an alternate, present-day America.

Motherland: Fort Salem” takes place in an America, where witches ended their persecution 300 years ago by cutting a deal with the U.S. government to fight for their country. The series follows three young women from basic training in combat magic into terrifying and thrilling early deployment. In this world, the traditional roles of gender and power are flipped with women on the front lines, the fight looming and terrorist threats that are strikingly familiar to our world, but with supernatural tactics and weapons

McKinney plays Anacostia, a tough but wryly humorous drill sergeant whose chief concern is keeping the young recruits alive through basic training. McKinney spoke with EURweb’s Jill Munroe about preparing for the new role, why reality TV isn’t for her, and how she’s been surviving quarantine.

Jill: You’re in Atlanta, how are you handling sheltering in place?

Demetria: We’re making the best of it. We are glad that we have separate corners of the house to go to when we need to. It’s literally just me and my son here. And we have three dogs. So he’s got his space. He’s got his quarters or whatnot, and I’ve got my own space and we’ve got different places to go if we need a change of venue. So we’ve been just really cognizant of making sure that we don’t step on each other too much.

Jill: And how have you been kind of keeping your spirits up through this?

Demetria: Well, that first week, chile, it was a trial. But then I got into the mode of introspection, a lot of meditation, just really kind of looking into where I’ve come from, where I am, where I want to be and how I get there. The last couple of years have been a whirlwind of work, which has been great, but I missed a lot of time with my son. And so just reconnecting with him, binge-watching shows, getting in the kitchen together, we’ve been doing some gardening together. He’s working on music, so just giving him some tips and tools to use with that.

That’s been kind of the focus for me. As well as planning for other projects to come, looking into the future, things of entertainment that I’d like to be a part of and figuring out how to make that thing happen.

Demetria McKinney in ‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ (Freeform/David Bukach)

‘Motherland: Fort Salem’ starring DEMETRIA MCKINNEY, JESSICA SUTTON, TAYLOR HICKSON(Freeform/David Bukach)

Jill: So speaking of entertainment and you kind of touched on it, you have over the past few years, been across pretty much every aspect of entertainment. You’re acting, you’re singing, you touched reality TV for a minute. What are the differences for you as far as moving through those different places in entertainment and your approach?

Demetria: Oh, that’s a loaded question. As far as the reality space, I realized, one that it’s just not for me. I think that, you know, everybody loves entertainment and everything has its space, but, the opportunity to tear somebody down for a rating is not something that I necessarily want to be a part of.

As far as like, getting into music, that’s the reality I want to be in. If I’m going to be showing myself, I want to show myself by my own terms, in my own words and really, expressively and artistically, where somebody can relate to it and pick themselves up or relate to it and say, you know what, I’m about to pack every bag I got that. I want to be the real reality for myself with my music and thankfully, people understand that and were rocking with it.

As far as the other shows that I’ve done, the art of being able to tell somebody else’s story with truth, with dignity, with honesty, regardless of what the circumstance is, is something that I really, really grown to love and learn from. I remember those days when you know, back in the beginning days of The Cosby Show, when you sat and you watched and you actually got a chance to discuss the things that were happening in the show and you sparked conversation with your kids, and you really got a chance to kind of delve into each other’s worlds and understandings. And that’s what I feel like I’ve gotten a chance to do with House of Payne, or even A House Divided, Saints and Sinners. And now, going into Motherland, this fantasy space — that’s a whole best of both worlds. Like, I get to be real, I get to be mystical. I get to be magical. I get to be strong. I get to reclaim woman power, like it’s just amazing. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

MOTHERLAND: FORT SALEM – Freeform’s “Motherland: Fort Salem” stars Amalia Holm as Scylla, Jessica Sutton as Tally Craven, Taylor Hickson as Raelle Collar, Ashley Nicole Williams as Abigail Bellweather, Demetria McKinney as Anacostia, and Lyne Renee as General Sara Alder. (Freeform/Frank Ockenfels)

Jill: Okay, so let’s talk about Motherland. One of the things that’s really amazing about this show is the fact that the alternate universe is the female lead. So before we get into the specifics of your character and everything that she’s kind of going through, do you think that the world would be much different if women were in power? Because I think power corrupts, and I think that there are certain things that no matter what, people in power kind of end up succumbing to, not all, but some. So I feel some of the battles would be the same. But what about you?

Demetria: I feel that power is fluid. I think that certain powers that are naturally given to all of us as humans are from time to time tested and given to a specific sect of people. Whether we’re talking about women’s rights, whether we delve into slavery, whether we look into the Holocaust, there’s always been a struggle for power. How it would change if a woman was involved, I think that Motherland paints a nice picture of what the possibilities are, but I think power shifts and moves according to the intention of the personalities behind it.

Look at the legislation, the difference between Obama and Trump — vastly different, both male, one’s different than the other. So what I love about this realm with Motherland and the women being in power is that one thing we don’t do is diminish the power of other. You have an African American female president. You have a woman who’s been alive for over 300 years, who was a witch who was leading the Army. You have the recruits being all female and understanding that their vulnerabilities are their strengths, you know, I think that’s the biggest difference. As women, we understand the nurturing, we understand the vulnerability of it all. And we don’t necessarily run from that. And that may cause a little bit more empathy while still keeping the powerful strength that we possess intact.

So I hope it would be a little better, but I like the fact that we get to explore that option in Motherland.

Jill: Okay, So, getting into that in your character, I read that your mother was in the military. What did you take from her and her experience and apply to your role?

Demetria: Oh, my gosh, I took many things from my mother to play Anacostia. I took her strength and her silence. You know that Mama look when you’re doing something you ain’t got no business doing, you don’t have to say anything, everybody straightens up. I definitely took that from her and applied it. I think that her sternness was the biggest strength that I was able to add to Anacostia. The layers that start to reveal themselves later actually come from my single motherhood. I raised one kid, hallelujah, God knew not to do that again. But, understanding that there has to be a level of compassion, understanding that there has to be understanding within that. Understanding that you’re not always right, even as a parent, as an adult, whatever, what you’ve been through, you don’t know every and all.

So I wanted to make sure that she definitely let them know at the end of the day, they could trust her. At the end of the day, they knew that she loved them, it was just a different way and that balance was something that was really important to me.

Motherland: Fort Salem airs TONIGHT, Wednesday (04-15-20) at 9:00 PM on FreeForm.

Interview/Article by: JillMunroe

Categories: About Demetria McKinney, Interviews, Plays/Shows/Movies