Meet Eboni Sadé: Creator of the Game Changing Series 'Let Nina Prosper'
Let Nina Prosper is a multidimensional game changing new series that is reinventing the film scene for queer women of color. I have spent an ungodly number of hours watching the series on Vimeo. We as a community are loyal consumers of content that reflects our story, but the mainstream has historically cut us out. When queer women are present in film, they are often white washed, hypersexualized or sensationalized.
We are so much more than a Netflix category or your one queer bating cast member. Artists like Lena Waithe are proof that we are entering a new day and age. A new world where queer women of color have their time to shine in the spotlight with our own scripts, screenwriters and stars.
This week I had an opportunity to sit down with writer and creator of the newest QWOC content creator to talk about her new series Let Nina Proper. If you have not already, check out and binge this series first season— I guarantee you will have a new favorite and anticipate next season!
“Eboni Sadé is the Writer, Director, and Producer of the web series. She also plays the lead role of Nina. Born in Jersey City, NJ, Eboni got her undergrad degree from Howard University and her Masters in Digital Cinema Production from The New School.
The idea of the web series originated from a short film concept about a Black and Latina queer couple dealing with the growing pains of relationships.”
I love the way your show addresses the contradictions of queer women of color and that an episode mentions: “You can eat at Chick-fil-A but know that the organization does not stand for any of the identities you hold”. What inspired you to raise content like this to power in your script?
I knew that I wanted to create a show that explored the intricacies of queer women of color through their personal and professional relationships. By telling those stories, there needed to be a certain level of honesty. I knew that I had to touch on scenarios that weren’t normally discussed in public. Chick-Fil-A, the delayed pay for Black writers from publications that are staples in our communities, and other topics are all conversations that we’ve had in our small circles. Why not shed some light on them?
Do you believe as QWOC we are given the space to be as contradictory as our white counterparts?
I think what’s great about the Chick-Fil-A scenario is, there was no forced resolution. Black women sat around a table being open and honest in a safe space. It’s important to discuss our very own contradictions. In fact, I’ve always appreciated shows like Living Single, Girlfriends, and even newcomer Atlanta, for showing us those contradictions without a heavy, judgmental hand.
There are not many sex scenes in the show and most characters have many other aspects that are explored-- was that intentional?
One of the goals of the show was to explore intimacy in several ways; some more obvious than others. The first appearance occurs in the first scenes of the show through a montage of shots where Nina explores Jersey City. It’s an ode, a love, a passion for a city that she cares for deeply.
An appreciation for the breadth and depth of HBCUs, kindred sisterhood, and the bond between Nina and Laila are all types of intimacy. The lack of sex scenes were absolutely intentional. How else can we show that these two characters are together in a way that people can relate to? The forehead kisses, the “go get the promotion” pep talk, Laila breaking familial feuds to defend Nina against her older sister. It was important for me to not only play with the physical ties to intimacy but the emotional aspects as well.
What depth do you feel you are adding to the existing content for queer women of color on the web?
I think what Let Nina Prosper doesn’t shy away from, is real life. How it feels to be queer, Black and female and exist in spaces. Approaching 30 and wondering what the hell you are actually doing with your life. Celebrating small and major victories with the people that you love. Creating a safe haven and looking around that circle to see other queer women of color who truly have your back.
What was the inspiration behind creating Let Nina Prosper?
The inspiration behind the web series was simple; visibility. I’ve always wanted to see a queer brown-skinned Black woman as the lead in a TV series. What I created was a web series with an all-Black cast who identify as mostly queer. I hope the show inspires others to see themselves, to see their success, missteps, beauty, trials, and triumphs.
What do you envision for the series? (Caution: spoiler ahead!)
The end of the first season left on a cliffhanger with the fate of the marriage proposal between Nina and Laila. I think the series can grow in a multitude of ways. One thought is exploring the idea of marriage and what it means for Nina and Laila, independent of each other. I would love to give more backstory on Nina’s strained relationship with her older sister, Camille. As Nina grows into her 30’s, I think you’ll see her take the necessary steps to ensure mental wellness with how she deals with her shortcomings and growing pains.
When all the women get together, I definitely see more tipsy nights of truth-telling and friendships that will essentially lead to more backstories of how they all became friends.
I appreciate that you highlight queer folks who attended HBCU’s, a topic that is often not discussed. What prompted this? What was your experience?
I am a product of an HBCU. I always say that Jersey City birthed me, but Howard University is where I found my footing. Before attending and later graduating from Howard, I attended Hampton University for my first year of college. I craved more of a city vibe and wanted a bit more freedom than Hampton would allow so I decided to transfer.
Howard helped me hone my voice. The HBCU experience added base to it. Howard was a second home for me. Professors took a real interest in our well-beings. I’ve always known that I wanted to be a writer and the people there lit the ignition for my pursuit.
Attending both schools allowed me to see myself in others. In relation to the series, I remember telling people that I attended both schools and they would chuckle a little. The Howard vs. Hampton rivalry is real. And as someone who has heard and told a few jokes about each school, I knew that episode was necessary.
Where was the show filmed? Do you have any fun facts about the set?
The show is filmed in my hometown of Jersey City, NJ. We filmed primarily in the Greenville area where I grew up.
A fun fact on set: the “Shawty, Swing My Way” song took the longest to tape. We were all having trouble remembering the lyrics, which is funny because we all loved the song back in the day. And it became clear that we all had our own versions with made up lyrics. The scene that you see is all from one take. From a personal note, I enjoy the authenticity of us continuing to stumble over the lyrics – similar to how we all are naturally with our friends. It’s a real moment of shouting inaudible lyrics at the top of your lungs and feeling great about it.
How did you get started, cast and bring this dream to reality?
I wrote each episode of the series and had a vision of who would be right for each role. I held multiple casting calls in NYC and immediately saw the cast once each of the women arrived. During the first table reading, the cast gelled incredibly well to the point where we all sat around my house and talked for hours after.
My original plan was to cast an actress for the role of “Nina.” I wanted a brown-skinned woman who identified within the LGBTQIA+ community and who could truly sink her teeth into the role. After many castings and reads, I ultimately decided to take on the role.
Who inspires you in and out of the industry?
Spike Lee. I remember the feeling that I had as a kid watching Crooklyn seeing a young brown skinned girl be funny and be a mother figure to her brothers who were older than her, as she carried the world on her shoulders. Issa Rae, Donald Glover, and Lena Waithe are also influences. Outside of the industry, I’ve learned a great deal from studying the people of color within my community.
How can folks get involved in helping with the project?
As the writer, director, and producer of the show, I’d love to get more folks involved. If anyone has any interests, from acting to production, you can fill out the contact form on the website and someone from the team will get back to you.
What advice do you have for other up and coming queer women of color creatives?
That thing that you’re thinking about— simply create it! As creatives, I think we often get inside of our own heads and think about all the ways it won’t work or come to fruition. Use whatever resources you have and just create it. It might not be perfect but creativity shines through no matter what tools we use.