A chat with the stars of ‘A House Divided’

Photo courtesy of Strategic Heights Media LisaRaye McCoy

Now in its fourth season on ALLBLK, “A House Divided” continues its focus on the members of the wealthy, esteemed and scandalous Sanders family. They are the direct descendants of Letty Sanders, a slave who later became the richest Black woman in the newly formed city of Los Angeles. 

 After the death of the family’s matriarch, secrets and scandals are uncovered and emerge about the Sanders family, who are working hard to survive and keep their legacy alive.

Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs plays Cameron Sanders, Sr., who heads the Sanders family while he navigates an international extortion plot. LisaRaye McCoy plays Alexis, who is battling her biggest adversary Carissa (Demetria McKinney).

McCoy’s works include Diamond in Ice Cube’s directorial debut film “The Players Club”; Neesee Jones in “All of Us” (The CW); and Keisha Greene in “Single Ladies” (VH1) among others. She is also the star and executive producer of her reality show, “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy,” on TVOne.

Jacobs has appeared in such classic films as “Claudine” (1974), “Cooley High” (1975), and “Roots” (1977) and was one of the top leads in “Welcome Back, Kotter” (1975-79).  

A three-time NAACP Award winner and nominee, Jacobs received an NAACP Image Award nomination for his riveting portrayal of Joe Jackson, the father of the Jackson family in “The Jacksons: An American Dream” (1992). He also earned a 2021 Daytime Emmy nomination for playing the family patriarch in “A House Divided.”

Both McCoy and Jacobs talked to the MSR last month.

Asked if there were any concerns about negative images the fictional Black family who owns a bank may project on the small screen, Jacobs noted, “There are a lot of variables that are in the show as well as what you see.” 

McCoy continued, “It showcases that some of the things that you know in our life as Black people that we go through [are] not any different than what our [White] counterparts go through. That’s what this family is showcasing is to go for the gusto, get the all-American Dream, and you may have to get dirty and grimy in the midst of it.”

She continued, “When I read Alexis, which by the way was supposed to be a cameo, by the time that they saw me and Lawrence’s character together, the chemistry was so natural, they wrote me [in]. She [Alexis] was well-written by our creator, producer and director Dan Garcia.

Photo courtesy of Strategic Heights Media Lawrence Hilton-Jacobs

“I need to make her different from my [previous] characters,” she added. “I got to give her a different walk of life. I have to give her some different nuances and a different look.”

Both actors pointed out that “A House Divided” is full of lies, scandals and hidden truths.

 “We’re actors, we’re performers. We get a chance to play and bring [these] characters to life; that’s our job,” McCoy said. “When you get to play a fictitious type of character where you can bring some drama and some realism to the performance…it gives you depth.”

“We don’t see Black people doing this a lot in the media,” Jacobs added. “All the roles that we have done, mixed with our experience in life and our maturity, allows us to want to make every character that we play different.”

Other cast members include McKinney, Taja V. Simpson, Deborah Lacey, Brad James, Paula Jai Parker, Parker McKenna Posey and Terrell Carter.

“We’re in our fourth season,” McCoy declared. “The fans have shown up…and they like it. We got an incredible cast. We‘ve worked together long enough to become family. So, we are entertaining you guys in a way…because we all get along.”

The pandemic, as expected, is a part of life for McCoy, Jacobs, and the rest of the “A House Divided” cast and crew. Jacobs said they are required to get tested three times a week “and people are wearing face masks” when they are not on scene. “We’re keeping our distances and everybody’s just following the hardcore health and safety protocols.”

Both actors are as busy as ever. “I’ve been busy as a writer, director and producer, including recently working on a couple of movies,” Jacobs said. “I’m going to direct ‘Lucky Valentine,’ which is an action movie. I’ve written a movie about the life of Al Sharpton. I’ve been happy with my work,” he said.

McCoy is the host of a crime series, “Murder in The Thirst,” and stars on “The Family Business”—both on BET—and co-hosts “Cocktails with Queens” with Vivica A. Fox, Syleena Johnson and Claudia Jordan on the Fox Soul streaming channel. “We talk about all things trending and we give our opinion about that,” McCoy pointed out.  

The veteran actor also is a successful businesswoman with her own homestyle furniture and mattress line, and a clothing line as well. “I’m having fun in life,” she said. “I’m just diversifying my portfolio. I’m very much in a place just really taking the reins of my career.”

ALLBLK, formerly known as UMC since it was launched in 2014, is the first streaming service created for Black television shows and films.