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Quick Take With Brook Kerr

Digest named you and Vernee Watson (Stella) as Performers of the Week for the beautiful work you did when Portia and Stella had their heart-to-heart before Trina’s trial. What did you think when you first read the script? “When I got the script, it just really flowed, and I really have to give a shout-out to [the outline writer] Shannon Peace and [dialogue writer] Charlotte Gibson. It was beautifully written and I think for Portia, this was kind of the first time she really opened up to someone else besides Curtis. I think she’s got just so many plates spinning — she’s worried about the schizophrenia, she’s worried about things from the past possibly coming back to the forefront, she’s got a daughter who is on trial for something that she obviously didn’t do. And these are the problems that happen in so many households; no matter what the issue is, if there’s a child that’s going through something, you better believe that after they go to school, or after they go to bed, their loved ones, their family, are in the next room trying to figure it all out.”

On the day of taping, did you and Vernee get a chance to work on the scenes before going up to set? “We did work on the scenes, yes. I love working on scenes with her. I think we both kind of saw how great this was and we were like, ‘Okay, let’s do this!’ That day, there was so much [material] going on, but we definitely worked on it and I think we both understood it in a way of like, ‘Okay, let’s go up there and see what happens, let’s go up there and go full force!’ We understood the layers that were being expressed in the story. [The performance] was organic. We worked on it as far as material-wise, but we didn’t work on it performance-wise. And we did that in one take.”

What was it like when you saw all the comments and all the love you were getting [on social media when the scenes aired]? “I was crying, just as Brook, because you do some work and you think it’s good, you think, ‘Oh, this is going to be great!’ But you never know [how people will react]. It made me feel seen. It made me feel seen as an actor.”

More recently, Portia helped exonerate Trina by sneaking into Oz’s hospital room and injecting him with medication that brought him out of his coma in time to identify Esme as the person he sold the black market phone to. To this point, she’s been very by the book as a doctor. Were you surprised when you got those scripts? “Oh, absolutely I was! I was shocked, to put it simply. To date, my character definitely has been very by the book in how she goes about things, very logical, very matter-of-fact, very practical. So I thought it was very ironic for Portia to quote-unquote do a crime to help her daughter not be convicted for a crime that she didn’t do! Right?! But I loved it. I had a blast. I thought it was something so fun and interesting to play. And this isn’t necessarily something she is good at, either! I was talking about that with Donnell [Turner, Curtis]. I said, ‘One of the reasons Curtis is probably trying to help her is that he knows she’s not going to be good at this!’ And since he has history as a P.I., when he tells Portia he’ll help her, she was probably like, ‘Oh, thank God, because I’m not going to be the best at this the first time out!’