You’ll certainly recognize the sensational Angela Robinson as the diabolical Veronica Harrington on OWN’s most popular series, The Haves and the Have Nots. The show follows three families in Savannah, Ga., the rich, powerful and very public Cryer and Harrington families (The Haves) and the impoverished Young family (The Have Nots).
Robinson stands at the center as the villainous Veronica Harrington, poised and well put together on the surface, but she’s an ice queen at the core. She is manipulative and vindictive toward anyone who dares stand in her way. Recently, we sat down to chat with Robinson just as the second half of Season Four premiered. We chatted about the sensational series, what she’s learned from Veronica and why working with Tyler Perry has been the experience of a lifetime.
EBONY.com: Your background is in theater, so how did you get into such a juicy and vindictive character like Veronica Harrington?
Angela Robinson: Well, auditions. That’s the long and short of it. I was in a musical in Atlanta. And the musical was called Into The Woods, and the casting director from Tyler Perry Studios happened to see the show. She invited me to come in and audition for Meet the Browns. I was so excited, went in, auditioned for one … it was one scene. It was a very small part. Auditioned and didn’t get it. And I was devastated, and a year and a half later, they were casting Haves and [they] remembered me and invited me to submit a tape audition and I did, and they called me the next day and said, “Can you fly out to meet Mr. Perry?” And the rest is history.
EBONY.com: What intrigued you about Veronica? She is so complex, so you never really know what she’s going to do or how she will use her wiles to manipulate situations.
AR: Right. What enticed me at that time and what it is now are very different things. Four or five years later, the character has changed so much, which is sort of what you get with a long-running show and with a soap opera format. But what enticed me, in the beginning, was the fact that here was this Black woman from small beginnings who worked her way up to be a millionaire. She went to law school, she was a very accomplished lawyer, she made millions by starting a rehab facility out of her own troubles with prescription drugs. That’s what attracted me to the role the most.
EBONY.com: How has it changed for you? Throughout the course of the past four seasons how has your approach to her as a character changed?
AR: Well, she’s certainly changed. It was clear in the first season that she was controlling and that she was somewhat homophobic. I like to say she’s not necessarily homophobic, she’s just so controlling; she doesn’t want you to be anything she doesn’t want you to be. But that is still there … those elements of the character are still there. I think the character now has some mental issues that I didn’t realize were there when I auditioned for the first season. But I’m really glad that they’re there because I just feel that sometimes those people who are controlling to a fault and need everyone to do what they want them to do … I do think that that kind of behavior at some point will drive you crazy. I think that that is what happens when you try to control everybody around you. And so, she’s become sort of mentally unstable, while still trying to control everyone.
EBONY.com: She’s definitely unhinged at this point. What have you learned about yourself, either personally or as an actress, while playing Veronica Harrington?
AR: Personally, I’ve learned about perseverance. When you hear the word “No” and when you hear rejection, that it’s not always final. And that timing is everything, and you have to stay the course and just keep working hard and know that when your time comes, that it will be sweet and that it will be the perfect time. And that’s sort of what happened to me in the journey to get here, while I was still disappointed about not getting Meet the Browns, there was something even bigger for me, and I didn’t know that at the time, so it’s just taught me to really have faith and to really trust in the gift that God gave me and know that when it’s my time, that all things will line up, and it will be well. As an actress, it’s really taught me how to move fast, it’s taught me how to work fast, how to trust my first instincts and not overthink it. I’ve done theater most of my career, and I get to see the reaction of the audience right after the show. At the stage door, I get to see how they felt about it. Here, we film the show, and then I go to the grocery store, and you find out how people feel. So, it’s really kinda taught me to trust my instincts in creating Veronica and not worry about whether it’s gonna get good feedback or bad feedback. Because I play a villain, it’s not gonna get good feedback, but I hope that people will recognize the work and not the character that I play, but the work that I do as an actress, and I realize that when people say, “Oh, I really love you … I love what you’re doing.” They’re not saying that they love the character, but they’re really … they’re seeing the work in it, and that’s very important to me that everyone knows that it is work, it’s something that I’m crafting. It’s not who I am. I’ve learned to not worry about what people think, as much, and to just do the work that I think will help hold a mirror up to people who are like Veronica.
EBONY.com: In your opinion, what is the most shocking thing that Veronica has done so far?
AR: That’s every week. I couldn’t believe she was slapping Melissa (Antoinette Robertson) when she was bleeding. I couldn’t believe it, I was like “Oh, my God, the child just committed suicide, and I have to slap her.” I couldn’t believe it, but at the same time, I was telling someone … we laughed … me, Gavin Houston and Antoinette Robertson, who played Melissa … we laughed the whole time. It was the funniest thing to us, and Mr. Perry kept saying, “This isn’t funny.” But you can’t, it’s so absurd. I think I asked Mr. Perry one day, “Is [Veronica] ever gonna get nice?” and he was like, “Oh. No.”
EBONY.com: What has the experience been like working for Mr. Perry and with him?
AR: There are so many great parts of the Haves experience for me, and he is one of the sweetest parts. I enjoy going to set with him. He is no joke. He is ready to work. But I enjoy that as an actor, I’m ready to work, too. I enjoy going to set with him, I love his work ethic. I love that he loves the show. And you can tell he loves it, he’s so invested. He really … sometimes he looks at me and says, “You are just evil.” He’s just so into it. And then, you know, he creates a very safe work environment. But outside of that, he’s just one of the most generous, giving, thoughtful people that I’ve ever worked with … that I call boss. It’s just not … just “Oh, this is my employee.” When there’s a death in the family, he calls. When there’s a birth, he calls. When there’s something going on, he’s there and he wants to know how we’re doing, and how everything is going, so … it’s just really been a blessing to see that type of leadership. To see that example of leadership. Because it’s the kind of leader I would want to be, too.
EBONY.com: As you continue on with Season Four, what can our readers and fans expect?
AR: They can expect more of the same, and some changes, so when I say that I mean … there are some characters that may have a few changes. They may evolve some. But they can expect more of the same temptation and drama. It’s gonna be edge-of-your-seat every week. There’s gonna be something every week. They can stop predicting … hoping that Veronica could be any sweeter. In fact, she’s probably gonna surprise you and shock you every week. And I felt the premiere episode really did a great job of giving you tragedy and heartbreak, but also some humor. And I think that a lot of the episodes this season do that. They don’t sort of leave you in a dark place, they have light-hearted moments as well.
The Haves and the Have Nots airs Tuesdays at 9 p.m. ET.