Gina Torres: “Go Over There And Conquer The World”
Beloved for her roles in the Matrix trilogy, Nebula in Hercules, Cleopatra in the cult-hit Xenia: Warrior Princess and gun-slinging, alien-slaying Zoe Washburne in Firefly, just to name just a few, the statuesque Gina Torres is currently presiding over her own law firm on USA Network’s legal drama Suits. She plays Jessica Pearson, who is the biggest baddest, take-no-stuff characters Torres has ever portrayed. Not only is she the chess master behind the firm’s every move, but she exclusively wears sky-high heels — allowing the five-foot-ten actress the unprecedented opportunity to tower over every man onscreen.
Her character has remained one of the best female characters on television over the past few years. She is a black woman leading an elite Manhattan law firm, surrounded by cocky white men and proving herself better than all of them. Jessica is career-driven, perhaps to a fault, but never made any apologies for prioritizing her work over a traditional family.
The character has gotten so good that as of March of 2017, Torres signed a deal produce and star in a Suits spinoff. The particulars of the deal are still being worked out but it seems like Jessica and her impeccable suits and coats will be back on our screen.
“I’ve played precious few women that aren’t badass and strong and capable, and I’ve always gotten incredibly positive feedback across the board, from men and women alike. Men, women, children, grandmothers — yeah. There are a lot of power women that are working today.”
Gina graduated from Fiorello LaGuardia School of Arts where, before entering the world of acting, she studied opera and jazz as a vocal major. Within a year of graduating, she was cast as Deena Jones in Dreamgirls, her first professional acting job. And the rest is history. The wife of actor Laurence Fishburne now looks forward to play on her strength of showcasing women in strong positions.
“I’ve had a lot of female lawyers thank me for the character of Jessica” says Torres, “they’re always so grateful that I’m representing them; Jessica’s become a poster girl for female lawyers.” Although many start to embrace it now, why was taboo that a female or a black female for that matter, couldn’t be head of a leading law firm? Don’t you remember Claire Huxtable was a excellent lawyer climbing up the corporate ladder too?
Torres brings this point home, “Jessica was conceived as a man – but here I am, a black woman in a world of white men. The strength of her character is that, in Suits, we never play on that.”
Torres also notes how the tactics to find a white actress when actors of color apply are subtle to the untrained eye, but clear as day to her others who know. “They can’t really say that out loud, but you know what it is because…