Five New Nola Darlings? Actresses Who (Might Could) Gotta Have It.

Tracy Camilla Johns, the original Nola Darling, in 1986’s ‘She’s Gotta Have It’

At Alyssa Rosenberg’s Act Four today, I wrote about the news that Spike Lee will be writing and directing a She’s Gotta Have It half-hour TV series for Showtime. The show’s already in development, but as far as we know, he hasn’t cast his new Nola Darling yet. I have some ideas — and I encourage you to add yours. Consider this post a fun little companion piece to the Act Four essay.

1. Cassandra Freeman



Freeman has worked with Spike before. She played Denzel’s love interest in Inside Man. The appearance was brief, but she shone in the limited role. It required her to be sultry and tough; she rose to it. Her IMDB page suggests that she’s worked steadily since then, in increasingly large roles — but I’d love to see how she’d interpret a lead character like Nola Darling.

2.  Tracey Heggins

If Tracey were chosen, it would be a total missed opportunity if the casting directors didn’t at least consider her ‘Medicine for Melancholy’ co-star Wyatt Cenac for the role of Mars Blackmon.

Heggins already has experience with playing a free spirit, flirting with the concept of polyamory (or, at the least, infidelity) in films like Medicine for Melancholy and last year’s short Black Girl in Paris (adapted from Shay Youngblood’s novel of the same name). It remains unclear to me whether or not Heggins has the action chops to carry her own weekly series, but she definitely has the necessary air for embodying Nola.

3. Naturi Naughton



Naughton’s acting chops have been steadily evolving since she first hit the stardom scene as a teen pop singer-turned-actress. She already has a new series in the works, but if that doesn’t pan out, I could definitely see her taking a solid shot playing Nola Darling.

4. Emayatzy Corinealdi


After a breakout lead role in Ava DuVernay’s Middle of Nowhere, Corinealdi seemed poised for other high-profile work. And this could be a great, challenging next step for her.

5. Yaya Alafia


Whether it’s a reality TV modeling competition or a critically acclaimed indie film, Yaya Alafia rarely missteps. Her Ivy League pedigree and poise blend well with her earthiness — and I’d love to see what she’d do with a meaty role in a series like this one.

Post up your own picks in the comment section!

5 responses to “Five New Nola Darlings? Actresses Who (Might Could) Gotta Have It.”

    • I’ve never seen her (haven’t been a Mad Men watcher for a few years), but she’s gorgeous. I’ll take your word for her acting chops. Thanks for weighing in!

  1. Great list. I could totally see each of them as Nola. However, I’m leaning towards Tracey Heggins and Yaya Alafia as my personal favorites.

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