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Nicole Beharie Credits Shonda Rhimes for Paving the Way for Black Actresses

nicole beharieImagine a revolutionary soldier stepping into the 21st century, where slaves are emancipated, women work, cars exist, and Starbucks runneth over.

With a ghost hot on his trail and a black female cop as his only ally, so begins the new legend of “Sleepy Hollow.

A creative vision of Washington Irving’s classic tale, Fox’s mystery drama series places the very confused Ichabod Crane (Tom Mison), a white, British, 18th-century legionnaire resurrected from his grave into the current day, to ward off the age-old Headless Horseman.

Except in this adaptation, viewers quickly learn the evil demon is one of the Four Horsemen of Death from the Book of Revelations.

Nicole Beharie plays Abbie Mills, an African-American detective who partners herself with Crane to take on his nemesis, despite his initial reservations, considering he believes black people are still in chains.

Race and social construction rather poignantly slip into the fantastical plot, Beharie comments, and others have taken note as well.

The Bay State Banner even called it a “new day for race on network TV.”

Beharie agrees, adding, “Even though we’re not heavy handed about it.”

After Kerry Washington revived the black female lead on network television with “Scandal,” Beharie follows a trend in drama to be all-inclusive, defying expectations for characters of different races, genders, and religions.

She believes Washington’s accomplishments enabled the prospect for her in this new role.

“Absolutely, without a doubt,” says Beharie. “She just literally, her and Shonda Rhimes with Scandal, just ripped open that hole…They made it known to the industry that this is possible. I’m really glad and I’m totally rooting for her. I love, love, love her work.”


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