Exclusive: Ahlan! Talks Dubai, Education And Suits Spin-Offs With Gina Torres And Sarah Rafferty
Whenever celebrities tell us not to mention specific topics, they’re usually stuck up, and the mood instantly icy. So when we arrived at the Global Education and Skills Forum to interview the Suits cast, and were asked to not ask any questions related to Meghan Markle, we were severely disappointed.
Both Gina Torres and Sarah Rafferty have known and worked with the royal bride-to-be for many years, and perhaps know her better than anyone else. So it felt weird conducting a Suits interview and not mentioning their co-star. In their defense, we can understand that anything they might say or reveal about Meghan could be taken out of context, considering the huge amount of media interest in the royal wedding. And once we sit down and start chatting, we realise they’re actually REALLY nice. Nice enough to completely win us over and make us completely forget about royal wedding fever.
Welcome to Dubai, ladies. What’s been your first impression of the city?
Sarah: It’s SO international. I’ve met people from everywhere in the five minutes that we’ve been here. It’s amazing. Everyone who lives here seems to love it here.
Gina: I keep hearing, “I came for six months, and stayed for three years”. I keep looking out my window in astonishment.
You’re in town to attend the Global Education and Skills Forum. How did you get involved?
G: I was asked! When I started looking into it, I realized what a tremendous thing it is to do. It’s such a great way to shine a spotlight on a profession that’s so necessary. It’s so undervalued in so many ways. It’s great way to celebrate the teachers who are holding our children’s hands when we’re unable to.
S: I was so thrilled when they reached out to us, because my mom was a teacher for 30 years. I’m thrilled to see this is like the Oscars of teaching, that their dedication is rewarded in this way. They inspire our kids, who hold the future in their hands.
Gina left after the last season of Suits. What will you miss the most about working together?
G: I left, but I keep coming back [laughs].
S: I don’t think we plan to never work together again.
G: Exactly. There’s always time for that. We’ve become great friends, and our daughters are good friends, so I won’t be missing this woman THAT much.
Congrats on your Suits spin-off, Gina. Can you tell us more about the new project?
G: It’s based in Chicago, and all I can really tell you is that…what’s her name?
G: [laughs] Yes, Jessica. Jessica Pearson is going into the political arena. She’s going to be using her special skillset in Chicago politics.
Will any of your Suits co-stars be overlapping into your show?
S: I’m overlapping! I’ve already decided!
G: The door is always open [both burst out laughing].
Gina also appeared on Westworld, which we love. What was that experience like working on such a groundbreaking show? Any chance you’ll return in the future?
G: I honestly don’t have the answer to that. In terms of the experience, it was a little surreal. I went to work and I drove for about an hour, and suddenly a gate opened, and I was in the wild, Wild West! HBO really know what they’re doing. We just had the best time.
Sarah, what did you think of Westworld?
S: I haven’t seen it all. I’ve only seen bits. I have to say, it freaked me out. My husband watched the whole thing, and at night when I’d get home from work, I’d be like “No, I just can’t do it, I can’t go into that world!” I stressed me out.
G: Yeah, it’s very intense. And the scenes I shot were very intense, but I also did it in a bubble. I didn’t know what else was going on at the time, and they do that purposefully, because they knew once it started rolling out we’d be asked questions.
Sarah, you’ve been good friends with Gabriel Macht [Suits’ Harvey Spector] for over 20 years. What’s the best thing about working with him?
S: There is a lot of giggling going on. A lot, a lot, A LOT of giggles! It’s funny for us because we’ve been friends since 1993, so we were kids when we met. It’s pretty surreal to be playing these roles opposite each other. And it’s amazing, because I think it served us in the beginning of the show. Because as friends, we have a friendly intimacy and depth, and the writers started writing towards that pretty quickly when they got to know us.
With Gina, Meghan Markle [see what we did there?] and Patrick J. Adams leaving the show, what can we expect from the new season of Suits?
G: I hear it’s a musical now [laughs]. Good luck with that!
S: There’s also the new theme with the interplanetary colonization that’s interesting…
G: That too! [laughs]
S: Realistically though, we still have the same creator and a bunch of the original cast. I think Suits’ die-hard fans can still tune in and enjoy the kind of stories and characters that they’re used to. I think we’re ready for some fresh energy and stories. And I think with every long-running show you’ve got to break it open here and there. I’m also incredibly excited about the actors who are going to come and play with us. [Turns to Gina] I just found out last night that Amanda Schull [who plays Katrina Bennett on the show] is a series regular this year. Isn’t that amazing?
G: That’s amazing. She’s great. We love her!
S: I can’t wait, because Donna hasn’t had enough with Katrina. Donna also has not had enough with Zayn.
Why do you think Suits continues to be so popular?
S: Well, there was definitely some sort of fairy dust, because I think anything being that successful is mysterious alchemy. And I think on top of that, there’s a character for everybody. They’re these archetypical characters, and there is someone for everybody to connect with in different ways. And I think that’s the magic.