Revisiting ROOTS with Homegirls Elise and Lola Fyke

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A photo posted by Lola (@lolfyke) on

I met actors Elise and Lola Fyke about four years ago when they spent a few months in Los Angeles with Elise’s husband’s sister, Marcie, who is my bff since junior high. I loved having some homegirls here in LA with me, so when Elise texted that she and her daughter Lola were planning to spend a few more months here from their hometown of Oxford, Mississippi (aka the “Velvet Ditch”, aka the hometown of William Faulkner, aka Ole Miss), I was looking forward to their arrival. I was also thrilled when, in less than two weeks, they managed to drive here, find a short term place here in the ‘hood, and get Lola registered at The Critter’s school.

Shortly after they arrived, my beloved father in law had a very serious heart attack and My Perfect Husband had to travel to Washington to be with his family and help manage things (he is recovering nicely, thank goodness), so with the hubby gone so much, The Critter and I have had a lot of time to play with the Fyke girls. Elise has become my running buddy – down for trips to Downtown LA and all these odd but cool events that I can never quite explain in words, Easter holidays and school events. Lola and The Critter have also become really sweet pals, so we are going to miss them terribly when they return to Oxford.

One of the fruits of their efforts is that Lola will make her television debut in the remake of ROOTS. At age ten (eleven tomorrow, her birthday!), she will act in a drama recreating the iconic series that first aired when I was exactly her age. I remember how sickened and saddened by the gripping brutality and the pain portrayed in the show. The younger generation really doesn’t have too many references like this program, and I imagine that the revival of it will stir much emotion. Mario van Peebles describes to The Hollywood Reporter the scenes that he directed with Lola as Abigail and the child who plays young Kizzy:

“How weird is it to be directing three beautiful little girls together and go, ‘OK, now this is where you call her a n—er lover?’ ” says Van Peebles. “So I would tell her, ‘OK, now remember your lines, and now absolutely forget all your lines and never say them again!’ They were like 8, 9. In between takes, they’d go play together and laugh and giggle. There were times when I had to just be the filmmaker in order to function on it. And there were times when I could just sit back and be ashamed and affected and moved and inspired as a human being.”

How does one explain this to a child? Turns out Lola didn’t know the word! Elise and her husband Harry went millennial and actually googled that “n” word for Lola to explain the context of the use of that word and why it was important to expose how people talked back then. She didn’t want to do it at first, but her agent told her “You’re an actor, just ACT”. That was all he had to say – the job has been done, and now the world will see it. We are hunkering down with tissues and rapt attention to see it at 9:00 pm Pacific.



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