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

'Queen Sugar' TV show press conference, Panel, Los Angeles, USA - 06 Jun 2017
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!’ ”

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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.”

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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.

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