EBONY recently sat down with Margaret Qualley and Nick Robinson,
who play couple Mary Dalton and Jan Erlone in new HBO drama Native Son, based on the novel of the
same name by Richard Wright.

Mary and Jan are portrayed as often well-meaning, yet ignorant
friends of protagonist Bigger Thomas, portrayed by Ashton Sanders. For Qualley,
becoming Mary was a daunting task, yet she admittedly enjoyed the challenge.

“I was really uncomfortable playing Mary, to be honest,”
Qualley revealed, “but at the same time, it was something that was exciting for
me. It was definitely a challenge. She’s interesting because she’s someone who
is very well intentioned, but she’s so privileged that she’s very much blinded
by it and out of touch with reality, and that creates some really cringe-worthy

Robinson’s character, Jan, was written as a Communist in
Wright’s original work. In this modern-day retelling, the actor believes the
politically conscious character would fit more along the lines of being a
Democratic-Socialist and definite “Bernie supporter.” With that, the film aims
to explore the privilege afforded to even the most “woke” of White people, who
often don’t see how they can be self-proclaimed liberals while still exhibiting
problematic behavior.

“I think as a White person in America, and therefore as an innately
privileged person, it’s easy to walk through life without really seeing the effects
of systemic racism,” stated Qualley, “because, if anything, those effects are
making your life a whole lot easier.”

Catch out the full Q&A above.

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