seems to encompass various levels of incompetence, except for you?
SB: [Laughs.] Well I think in all great comedies there has got to be these different prototypes. There’s always like the straight man. And then the ingénue and then the one that it centers around. That’s the genius of the writers, they wrote all of our characters like that. So they wrote Sue to be the straighter, more grounded one, who, looking at the rest of her officemates freaking out and losing their mind [doesn’t really fret]. In order for our comedy to be grounded it needed to have a character like Sue who can sort of observe the absurdities. So I think that’s why the character is written the way she is. She brings a little grounding to their otherwise normally chaotic lives.
EBONY: When your character facetiously asks Matt McLintock if he thinks you look like a kindergarten teacher, he answers yes. And then you fire back, ‘Excuse me?’ What did that illustrate to you and what are you thinking when you read that on the page?
SB: [Laughs.] Funny enough, I’m not thinking, ‘Black person,’ but where does this girl come from? Where’d she go to school? How’d she get the job in the White House? What are her morals? What are the circumstances of her life? What is she there to do? My job in this show is to make sure that the vice president gets where she’s supposed to be when she’s supposed to be there and makes all of her appointments on time. Honestly, when I’m reading the character, I’m thinking it’s not that she’s deliberately acerbic, rude or off-putting. I think she just has so much work to do that she literally does not have an ounce of time to placate Mike, for instance, or any other of those guys in the office.
And I think there is something to be said about the writers making her an African-American woman. We have that reputation. But with that said, I feel like the character Sue could have been any race, it just so happens that she’s Black, which is great. I’m really excited about those characters in entertainment this day and age. If you think about Person of Interest with Taraji P. Henson or Scandal with Kerry Washington -- any of those Black women could have been any race, they just happen to be Black. And those are the characters that I’m more attracted to. It’s not so much about separation of race, but really more uniting us. I don’t know if Sue was written as a Black person. I think she was written as an acerbic person and that was attractive to me. But she certainly doesn’t have time to buy into the shenanigans of the office, as you’ve seen from the episodes.
EBONY: Do you think Sue’s race lends anything to the authenticity of the show? Because her Blackness, whatever that means, it certainly works on screen without pandering to the audience.
SB: That’s a good question, I don’t know. There’s actually been a lot of African-Americans featured as guest stars on the show this season. As well as we got picked up for a second season. And knowing my crew and the people in charge of casting, I mean, they’re just amazing. One of the themes of the show is that art is imitating life. So do I think that the angry Black woman thing is imitating life? Well no, because I think that those characters come in all shapes, sizes and colors. I think you’ve seen them at the DMV, at the airport, you know? So I think the job title as executive scheduler to the vice president lends to a certain lifestyle that the creators were going for. And I don’t think it was about race. I think it was bigger than race.
EBONY: The showrunners give a lot of freedom to see what actors can do with improvisation. Is there something we’ve seen so far that improvisational with you?
SB: That’s part of the reason why I enjoy working on Veep and why I’m really looking forward to the second season. As actors we were really given a lot of room to play around. A lot of it is improv, on the spot. In the last episode that just aired in episode four called, “Chung” some of that stuff at the end ...those are my words as well as Tony Hale and Reid Scott. The direction and the writers are so fabulous with giving us room. There is a script, and if a word comes out of our mouth that’s not in the script—fine. With some shows you can’t really do that. It’s really great that we have liberty to go outside of it.
EBONY: Your documentary about young people, New Leaves, sounds intriguing. How did you