Synopsis: Set in the high-stakes world of women’s college basketball, Long Slow Exhale stars Rose Rollins, Lyric Bent, Josh Lucas, and Ian Harding. The drama follows J.C. Abernathy (Rollins), a successful Head Coach of a competitive women’s college basketball team who finds herself in the middle of a potentially career-shattering sexual abuse scandal. As she tries to find the truth among the many secrets she uncovers, she has to make hard decisions that will affect her, her family, and the team of female athletes who all rely on her.
If you’re not familiar with Rose Rollins, let’s bring you from under the rock and get you familiar. Rollins is amazing as head coach, J.C. Abernathy on Spectrum Original’s smash series, Long Slow Exhale. Taji Mag had the pleasure to enjoy a brief chat with Rollins about her time as Coach Abernathy.
Taji Mag (TM): Without spoiling anything, what can you tell us about J.C. Abernathy?
Rose Rollins (RR): Where do I start? She is a very complicated woman. She leads with strength. Obviously, she’s gotta whole lot on her plate that she kind of effortlessly handles until she’s just blindsided by so much at once, so many issues and a major scandal. So it kind of throws her off her game. And, she’s compassionate. She’s flawed. She makes a few major mistakes, but I think that the most important part is not about the mistakes she makes. It’s what she does and how she goes about remedying and correcting those mistakes and redeeming herself. I think that’s important, you know, it’s how you take accountability for what you do in life.
TM: Absolutely! How did you prepare for this role? Were you able to speak with any other women head coaches?
RR: Cynthia Cooper. To be exact! Yeah. She was with me every step of the way and I couldn’t imagine it being anyone else. It was actually quite intimidating, especially on game days, where she’d be like, “all right, this is how you do it. You do this. Yo, yo, yo, come here.” You know? And I’m like, how am I supposed to do that?? That’s not what I’m going to do. I actually intentionally had to create J.C.’s dynamic that was a lot different from hers, just so that I don’t get in my head about how miserably I’m failing at what she’s doing. So I chose to do the exact opposite and that’s a true story!
TM: That’s actually excellent though, you did an amazing job! Were there any other challenges in preparing for this role that you came across?
RR: Yeah, just, um, the rawness in certain moments. The true honest moments that J.C. has. You can’t play those moments unless you are truthful in your own truth. That’s really hard to do sometimes because you know, human nature, we like to hide, right? Or we like to show you what we want to show you, but when you’re forced to be like, here I am, here’s my truth, it’s scary as hell. So that was definitely the biggest challenge.
TM: What do you hope the audience will receive from watching Long Slow Exhale?
RR: That you are heard, you are seen. We are fighting for you. Don’t be afraid to stand up. Your time is now.