Gina Torres Steps Into Spotlight With ‘Pearson'

Returning to the screen after leaving “Suits” in 2016, Gina Torres (Jessica Pearson) takes her character to the political world of Chicago

With USA’s long-time legal drama “Suits” entering its final season, fans of the show will have to start looking for a new program to fill their entertainment gap. But the good news is, they may not have to look very far.

Returning to the screen after leaving “Suits” in 2016, Gina Torres (Jessica Pearson) takes her character to Chicago where she - working as the political fixer for newly appointed Chicago Mayor Bobby Novak (Morgan Spector) - will engage in everything the Windy City has to offer.

“We really talk about the socioeconomic disparity between the classes, the ethnic diversity, we deal with immigration, we deal with violence, you know, we’ve got a little mystery going on,” Torres said. “Well, murder mystery I should say.”

Although in a new setting, Torres' character will in many ways still be the tough-talking lawyer “Suits” fans grew to love, but now they will get the chance to see more of her.

“You just get more of her, more of who she is, and how her mind works and what is important to her really,” Torres said.

Yet Torres’ character will also be at a crossroads, she said. Things will be shifting in Jessica's family life with Jeff and at city hall. She will have to take actions, make decisions and then deal with their repercussions.

The idea for “Pearson,” and its focus on political corruption and socioeconomic issues, came from Torres herself. While watching the 2016 election in the United States, Torres said she absolutely was thinking about Jessica, and how “all of the players involved in the 2016 election had nothing on Jessica Pearson.”

With her and the rest of the world fascinated with the political events of 2016, the show had no problems getting off the ground.

“Aaron Korsh (executive producer) loved the idea, Bonnie Hammer loved the idea, and then he took it to Daniel Arkin (showrunner), he loved the idea. And we just all started working on it together,” Torres said.

And, as someone with decades of experience in the business, transitioning to an executive producer role was an organic one for Torres, she said. The job just means she will have greater access to the writers and storytelling process she has been around her whole life.

Playing a part in how the show will be seen, how it will land, and the editing and casting process is what she has been waiting for her whole career.

“To have this dream be realized at this point in my career, at my age, just makes it so much sweeter,” said Torres, who turned 50 this year.

Growing up in a close Cuban family in the Bronx, the youngest of three children, Torres has certainly come a long way. After graduating from the Fiorello LaGuardia School of Arts -- where she studied jazz and opera as a vocal major -- Torres quickly gained her first acting role as Deena Jones in “Dreamgirls.”

She went on to be cast in films such as “Xena: Warrior Princess” and “Cleopatra 2525,” the latter of which won her the first American Latino Media Arts Award of her career.

Now, her move behind the camera is a personal one, Torres said. As the first Afro-Latina to create, executive produce, and star in her own network show, she knows its significance.

“That makes it rarer, that makes it more significant, that makes it significant to all the other Latinas and Afro-Latinos and people of color who never felt represented,” Torres said. “Who never felt that they could occupy that kind of a space in television, in the arts.”

Having done it all - broadway, comedy, scifi, action thrillers and dramas - Torres said she still loves every minute of her career and wants to stick around as long as she can. 

Inspired by other women of color who have moved from the story character to the story creator, like Octavia Spencer and Gina Rodriguez, Torres said she wants to continue create and produce in the future. She is always looking for stories to nurture forward and to tell.  

"I’m still working, I’m still in the game, it’s all good," Torres said. "I’m having a darn good time doing it."

"Pearson" premieres tomorrow, 7/17 at 10pm on USA Network. 

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