Entertainment TV Ava DuVernay Talks 'Queen Sugar' Heartthrob Kofi Siriboe: 'I Take Full Responsibility for the Current Phenomenon' Ava DuVernay explains why she feels responsible for the heartthrob status of Kofi Siriboe By Joelle Goldstein Joelle Goldstein Twitter Joelle Goldstein is a TV Staff Editor for PEOPLE Digital. She has been with the brand for five years, beginning her time as a digital news writer, where she covered everything from entertainment news to crime stories and royal tours. Since then, she has worked as a writer-reporter on the Human Interest team and an associate editor on the TV team. In her current role, Joelle oversees all things TV and enjoys being able to say she has to watch The Kardashians, Dancing with the Stars and America's Got Talent for "work". Prior to joining PEOPLE, Joelle was employed at The Hollywood Reporter. She graduated from Ithaca College with a degree in Television-Radio (and an appearance in the NCAA Women's Volleyball Final Four!) People Editorial Guidelines and Janine Rubenstein Janine Rubenstein Instagram Twitter Janine Rubenstein is Editor-at-Large at PEOPLE and host of PEOPLE Every Day podcast, a daily dose of breaking news, pop culture and heartwarming human interest stories. Formerly Senior Editor of music content, she's also covered crime, human interest and television news throughout her many years with the brand. Prior to PEOPLE she's written for Essence, The Cape Times newspaper and Los Angeles Magazine among others. On-screen Rubenstein can be found featured on shows like Good Morning America and Entertainment Tonight and she routinely hosts PEOPLE and Entertainment Weekly's star-studded Red Carpet Live specials. Follow the San Francisco native, Black Barbie collector and proud mom of two on Instagram and Twitter @janinerube People Editorial Guidelines Published on July 12, 2017 06:21 PM Share Tweet Pin Email Photo: Mark Davis/SilverHub/REX/Shutterstock Sugar may be sweet, but so is casting the next big hunk … just ask Ava DuVernay! Kofi Siriboe — more like KoFINE Siriboe — became a well-known heartthrob after appearing on DuVernay’s show, Queen Sugar. But it looks like she takes more than just the credit of casting him on the show. “I will take responsibility for the current phenomenon that is Kofi Siriboe,” the 44-year old creator and director joked at Essence Festival that took place in New Orleans from June 29 – July 2. “The sweetness, the humility, the effort that he puts in to try and live a better life [as character, Ralph Angel], really that is part of the sex appeal.” Queen Sugar is adapted from the novel by Natalie Baszile and tells the story of three siblings — sisters Nova Bordelon and Charley Bordelon, and brother, Ralph — who inherit their father’s 800-acre sugarcane farm. DuVernay wrote, co-directed and produced the drama in which Siriboe plays Ralph, a single father who struggles with unemployment as well as the drug addict mother of his child. Siriboe’s talent — and good looks — instantly stood out to DuVernay during the audition process and she knew he’d be a perfect fit for the role. “He walked in that audition room and it was really his talent. I was looking for an actor that had the full dexterity, flexibility to do the part of Ralph Angel, a complicated part,” DuVernay admits. “And I was like, ‘Oh, he’s a handsome young brother!’ ” J. Countess/WireImage But beyond his good looks, DuVernay believes his natural ability to portray Ralph Angel — a character who seems to share similarities with Siriboe, 23 — is what truly connects with audiences. “He’s kind and he’s also flawed and he’s trying his best. I think that adds to his appeal and Kofi really is that guy in so many ways,” she explains of Siriboe, who will play Jada Pinkett Smith’s love interest in the upcoming Girls Trip movie. “He’s a great actor, so he plays a different guy in Ralph Angel but the core of him — the kindness at the core — is what Ralph Angel and Kofi have in common.” FROM PEN: Get a Behind The Scenes Look at The Casting Of Twin Peaks DuVernay serves as creator, director and executive producer of Queen Sugar, which is currently in its second season. The series has received several awards for its outstanding production, including the NAACP Image Award for Best Drama Series, Television Show of the Year from both American Black Film Festival (ABFF) and African American Film Critics Association (AAFCA), and was a People’s Choice Awards nominee for Favorite Cable Drama. And while she has plenty to be proud of already, DuVernay isn’t stopping there. Up next for the director? The Disney fantasy-adventure film A Wrinkle in Time expected to hit theaters March 9, 2018. “I felt like this might be my only opportunity to do a film of this size so why not just take a big swing,” she admits. “The interesting thing is these kind of Sci-Fi fantasies have been done traditionally by white men, so to see the Sci-Fi fantasy through the lens of a black woman – and still Disney – I’m trying to keep it Disney but trying to keep it me, and its been a lovely process.” Queen Sugar airs Wednesdays (10 p.m. ET) on The Oprah Winfrey Network.