MC Lyte started her career as a rapper but has managed to expand it far beyond only music, carving out quite the impressive acting resume for herself along the way.
Since making her 1995 acting debut, credited as “female rapper” in an episode of “New York Undercover,” Lana “MC Lyte” Moorer has gone on to portray more memorable roles with actual names. From appearances in “In the House” and “Power” to recurring roles in “For Your Love” and “Queen of the South,” to name a few, the multi-talented legend not only carved her own lane in the music industry, but went on to expand that lane into acting as well — a skill many music artists try, with few being successful at sustaining.
During an interview with Atlanta Black Star, MC Lyte spilled the tea about what fans can look forward to in the near future from her behind the camera, while also reflecting on her time spent in front of it as part of the cast of “Half & Half,” a show that aired on UPN from 2002 to 2006.
Netflix acquired a slate of UPN/The CW classics and released them over the course of Summer 2020 in an attempt to boost the network’s Black content. “Half & Half” was among the list of shows tapped to head to the streaming service, which also included popular late 1990’s/early 2000’s sitcoms “Moesha,” “Girlfriends,” “One on One” and “The Parkers.” In “Half & Half,” MC Lyte co-starred opposite Rachel True and Essence Atkins as the former’s firm but fair boss Kai Owens in the show throughout the entirety of the series, which premiered in 2002 and abruptly ended after the fourth season.
“Half & Half” followed half-sisters Mona (True) and Dee Dee (Atkins) as they attempted to grow closer as adults in spite of different mothers who hated each other and the drama that came with living in the same apartment building (owned by their wealthy father). After a successful run, the show was unexpectedly canceled in 2006, like many other Black shows after UPN rebranded to The CW, leaving the cast shocked and fans with an unsatisfying cliffhanger ending.
“I think the cast, as well as Yvette Lee Bowser, the creator, was extremely disappointed when it didn’t come back because everybody thought it was coming back for a fifth season. So to have it cut off immediately like that — it can leave things unsettled,” she said of the show’s ending. “The idea of having to get to 100 episodes to be in syndication. We never made it to 100 episodes. So to be able to see this go into somewhat of a syndication on a streaming platform is fantastic. Everybody feels like, “Okay, we made it back.”
Netflix’ move to save the classic show from the canceled series abyss is something that the “Sylvie’s Love” actress is extremely appreciative of, but if a reboot option were to show up on the table due to all the renewed hype, MC Lyte would choose to leave well enough alone. “I just saw the excitement online with Essence and a few of the other cast members just really happy that it showed up. Now people like you get to see it in its entirety. Because if you don’t make it to syndication and it goes away, did it even exist? People don’t even really know that it existed. So this is good. A reboot, I don’t know. But yeah, I think where it is right now is great.”
The show ended with True’s character Mona finally making a decision between her two boyfriends, successful entrepreneur Chase (Lamman Rucker) and upstairs neighbor Lorenzo (Charles Divins). Audiences never found out who she chose, however, since the episode concluded on a cliffhanger shot of Mona making the call to her unknown love. If you’re still wondering who she could have called, your guess is as good as Lyte’s who admitted, “I have no idea.”
While her past work is still poppin’ over on Netflix, MC Lyte is looking forward to her upcoming projects, ALLBLK (formerly UMC) sitcom “Partners in Rhyme,” and her directorial debut in short film “Break Up in Love.”
The rap sitcom, which is supposed to begin pre-production early this year, is partially biographical according to the “Queen of the South” actress, and recently found its co-lead in newcomer and talent search winner Precious Way, who will star opposite Lyte. The series will follow “the trials of an up-and-coming female high school rapper and social media sensation who thinks she is the best thing to happen to the rap game since Cardi B,” according to Deadline.
“ ‘Partners in Rhyme’ is a show that is loosely based on my life,” she told us. “I’m mentoring a Lil Mama, Cardi B-esque rapper who has seven million followers and she thinks she knows everything. The record label is giving her to me as a project that I have to make it work. I’m looking forward to it. It’s going to be funny. It’s going to at the same time going to bring a message.”
“My perfect inspiration for this is ‘Fresh Prince of Bel-Air’ because they were able to be funny, and be loose and joke. But then also they were addressing some really heavy topics that were influencing us culturally and socially at that time,” she continued, explaining what she hopes the series will accomplish with viewers.
As if producing and starring in a new series weren’t enough, MC Lyte is also preparing to have a seat in the directors’ chair for the first time behind the camera for her short film, “Break Up in Love.” According to the IndieGoGo, the film will follow two couples as they “question their commitment and future while deciding to consciously uncouple,” a passion project that Lyte is very much looking forward to bringing to life.
“I’m going to do my directorial debut with ‘Break Up in Love,’ which I’m excited about. It’s a short. It’s about a couple uncoupling and what that means. They’re consciously uncoupling. But it also addresses some ills that we are faced with socially in the United States of America. So I’m excited about that as well.”