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2023 Writers Guild Awards West Coast Ceremony - Arrivals

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Run The World focuses on Black thirty-somethings chasing world domination. Reluctantly leading the way for them is Barb, a friend and mentor to their departed friend Ella played by Erika Alexander. 

“She can’t help herself,” Alexander said about her character dishing out hilarious advice in the Starz comedy. “She’s gonna get involved, even if she’s a little irritated to have to.” 

Renee (Bresha Webb) corners Barb looking for advice about how to get clients for her marketing firm at a networking event in episode three. Barb “doesn’t want to connect with someone who might be a bother or an annoyance” and is “not sure about that relationship,” but in the end, she points her toward success. She helps Renee get insider information that could help expand her fledgling enterprise by hipping her to the presence of a wealthy and connected guest at the party (Christopher Powell).

Barb has already climbed the obstacle course that is trying to thrive in Harlem. She owns property, is an investor in the cannabis industry, and runs the show at the fictional HotTeaDigest. Getting there was challenging, and she wants the next generation to know that. “She’s brutally honest,” added Alexander. 

Several scenes are stolen by the rich auntie they all aspire to be. She also gives professional and relationship advice to Sondi (Corbin Reid) and Whitney (Amber Stevens West). 

Her character can help them because she already knows what it is like to girl boss too close to the sun. Alexander feels the relationship between Barb and the rest cast reflects a significant dynamic many comedies can skip out on. 

“The generational conversation that they’re having with each other is important,” Alexander continued. “That, to me, is what makes it vibrant and exciting.” 

“I’ve, my whole life, been mentored,” she continued, adding that she benefited from the wisdom of those “a step or two away from my generation.” Whoopi Goldberg and Phylicia Rashad were “amazing mentors” to the actress and producer. 

Most girlfriend-centered shows like Insecure and The Bold Type stay within the same age bracket. Unless it is in the workplace or at a Thanksgiving dinner, they rarely interact with women more than one or two years older than them. But those choices neglect to include cross-generational relationships. 

Barb is there to lead by example and keep it real about what it takes to reach the next level. She turns up with them at Angel of Harlem and gives advice when necessary. She’s the Cardi to their Latto, the Nicki to their Ice Spice. Her role is that of the big sister or young auntie, not the therapist, mother, or nana. 

“I actually think that that’s a magnificent thing on screen,” said Alexander. “To have the conversation and sort of break the mythology that between generations, you don’t talk.”  

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Erika Alexander Is The Big Sis We All Need On ‘Run The World’  was originally published on hellobeautiful.com