“Sistas” star Ebony Obsidian felt like she was a part of history when the BET comedy-drama became one of the first television productions to resume filming at Tyler Perry Studios during the COVID-19 pandemic last month, using a carefully planned system to protect everyone’s health.
“We’re making history in a place where history was already made,” the actress, who plays Karen Mott in the series, told TheWrap about filming on the sprawling Atlanta, Georgia, property that was once home to Fort McPherson Army base.
Obsidian said she was tested for the coronavirus twice before flying to Atlanta to film the show’s second season, and then again every four days throughout the 16-day production. The cast and crew wore masks at all times with the only exception being for actors when the camera was rolling. The whole experience of filming went by so quickly and efficiently, she said, that production was actually able to wrap a day early.
“We called it Camp Quarantine,” she joked, echoing a moniker Perry himself gave the compound.
“Where we were staying were these beautiful, beautiful houses. I was, like, this is a little creepy at first,” she continued. “I’ve never stayed in a house this big before… the energy, in general, on the grounds is so positive that even though it was, like, you know, an old house — you turn the lights off, it can be a little spooky — it was just, oh my gosh, this is beautiful. This is history.”
What contributed to the slightly “creepy” nature of the homes, Obsidian said, was their Civil War-era past.
“The houses were military houses, I believe,” she said. “Mr. Perry gave a speech at the BET Awards, and he said this was a land dedicated to keeping African American people down, imprisoned, enslaved. It was a base. And then to have one Black man come back and own it — not just own it, but to employ people of all races on that land to create stories of Black people in America, to uplift and give people laughter, give people joy — that was what I felt in that house versus what that house was intentionally meant to harbor.”
“It’s kind of like rewriting over some darker times with some really, really bright and beautiful times,” she added. “We laughed a lot.”
The actress enjoyed her experience at Camp Quarantine so much that she hopes they’ll be able to shoot another season there later this year.
“It went by so fast,” she said. “I still wake up sometimes thinking I need to rush to set.”