She’s Gotta Have It’s DeWanda Wise: ‘Our bodies are being policed’

She’s Gotta Have It’s DeWanda Wise: ‘Our bodies are being policed’

The star of Netflix’s adaptation of Spike Lee’s groundbreaking film talks about working with the feted director, Sex and the City and the black female gaze

DeWanda Wise has the kind of relaxed self-confidence that is infectious. She feels so good about herself, that she makes everyone else in the vicinity feel good too. As she laughingly tells the story of her first “general” with Netflix – a sort of informal industry chat – it sounds, at first, disastrous. They were scoping her out for a role in She’s Gotta Have It, Spike Lee’s 10-part TV update of his own groundbreaking debut feature film. Wise was well aware of the 1986 film, which tells the story of Nola Darling, a young Brooklynite artist who openly rejects monogamy, choosing to date three different men at once. She knew nothing of the logistics of Netflix’s remake plans, however. “They were asking me: ‘Do you miss New York?’ and I was like: ‘No! Especially not winters, it’s freezing!’ [It turned out] we were shooting there in winter.” So how did she bag the highly sought-after lead role? Wise’s tone turns serious again; her own worth no laughing matter: “I think they were like, ‘Yes, she’s a strong, independent-minded woman, like Nola.’”

Baltimore-born, Los Angeles-based Wise has been a working actor for more than a decade, popping up in shows such as The Good Wife, Law & Order and Boardwalk Empire, but it is only in the last couple of years that she has come to the fore. Despite her distinctive good looks, she’s evinced an impressive ability to submerge herself convincingly in very different roles.

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