Wendy Raquel Robinson is a name we all know and love. From her role as Principal Regina “Piggy” Grier on The Steve Harvey Show to her various stints in some of our favorite Black Hollywood films, Robinson has charmed her way into our hearts (and living rooms) for decades. But perhaps her most beloved role as Tasha Mack on the hit TV show The Game, which is such a staple in the Black community that it’s on its second revival after originally airing on The CW in 2006 before BET picked it up in 2010.
But for the 54-year-old actress, it’s the authenticity of the characters that keeps people coming back. “They’re transparent,” she tells me. “We’re three-dimensional. You see the good, you see the bad, you see the ugly. You see the three-dimensionality of the characters. And, by it being the third inclination, you’ve grown up with these characters. It’s the thing that never gets old and it’s something that a little bit of everybody can identify with. And I think that’s what makes it so fun and makes it so connectable to everybody.”
Although it’s been six years since the last series finale of The Game, the reboot – which is streaming now on Paramount Plus – promises to follow in the same themes as the first two iterations by tackling serious issues that everyone in the Black community can relate to. “We tackle everyday issues,” Robinson continued. “We also tackle the bigger issues from ageism to sexism, to racism, to hairism, to insecurities, to being a woman, and what that’s like in a man’s world. And I think these are all issues that everybody can relate to.”
The reboot picks up with the gang in Las Vegas as they prepare to navigate all that comes with being successful in the sports world, and everything surrounding it. There’s one episode, however, that Robinson holds dear to her heart as it touches on a subject that every Black woman can empathize with: hair. The actress explained, “I think hair has always been a journey for me. And there’s one episode that we do, it’s episode five, and when I say it’s emotional. And I’m so glad we had an amazing director – a sister – she was perfect to direct us through this because something happens with Tasha’s daughter and I have to show her by example that you are not your hair and you are more beautiful than what your hair defines you as. And it’s an unraveling, it’s a revealing of not only Tasha but of Wendy. And it takes us through a couple of episodes but it’s powerful. It’s impactful.”
She continued, “So many times we get teased about the texture of our hair or how we wear our hair. And I went through my natural phase. I even wore it on a television show, on Grey’s Anatomy. They didn’t know what to do. It just became such a big issue to a point that it’s like ‘Oh forget it. Let me just braid it down and do something else.’ But this episode is going to really strike the chord to a lot of women, I know it did for me.”
She then opened up about her own hair journey, explaining that she did the big chop during her stint on The Steve Harvey Show because she had gotten tired of trying to fit a certain mold each time she auditioned for a new part. “When I cut all my hair off at The Steve Harvey Show, I had just gotten tired of auditioning for this role, auditioning for that role, and trying to switch the hair to fit the character. And it’s like no, I’m bigger than that! I am who I am and just accept me for that and where I am.”
She later continued, “I love to change my hair. But that’s who I am. But it’s also the fun that I like as a woman. But when it really gets down to the core of just not letting your hair define who you are.”
But even though the actress is thrilled about tackling all of these issues on screen, she admits that she was skeptical about the show coming back at first, that is until she discovered the new direction the series was going in. “Well, I didn’t know where it was going to go,” she told me. “All I got was the first pilot episode. And after I sat with Devon Gregory – who is now the captain of the ship – and heard his idea and his reimagining of the show and his reimagining of the characters and really grounding them, not only in their truth but also in their funny. The funny just comes from a very real place, it’s not forced. And Mara Brock Akil, who is now a dear friend of mine and sister, but she’s also the creator and she has made sure that the integrity of these characters is still in place. Even though she’s passed the baton on, she’s still adamant about who Tasha and Malik are as well as the other characters that have come on board. So it became a no-brainer.”
She continued, “Then to see that we were going to be socially relevant. Tackling issues that we need to talk about that aren’t talked about on television. Handling things like, George Floyd and Black Lives Matter, but by showing it through second chances and just showing the humanity of who we are. Why not be a part of something that’s iconic? And, it’s part of the solution. So many times we talk about the problems but we don’t offer anything in terms of the answer.”
And that is exactly why we love The Game so much. The series has always had the ability to tap into serious situations within the Black community but also gives us that joyful and comedic relief we need. The way Wendy Raquel Robinson describes Tasha Mack sums it up best, “we can dine at the White House but we can still hang in the hood.”
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Wendy Raquel Robinson: ‘Hair Has Always Been A Journey For Me’ was originally published on hellobeautiful.com
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