In the finale, we are reintroduced to Candice, someone we haven’t seen since the season two episode Champagne Papi. She was the right character to help move along this emotional roller coaster of an episode that features a standout performance from Zazie Beetz as Van.
Don’t get us wrong, actor Adriyan Rae, who plays Candice, definitely deserves kudos as well for an amazing performance. We get to see a completely different side of Candice, totally different from the Candice in the second season.
Many of you will recognize Adriyan Rae from her stint on Chicago Fire or her standout performance in the short-lived Syfy series Vagrant Queen. She will also be seen in the upcoming second season of the Paramount+ revival series The Game.
We had the chance to talk with Adriyan about the third season finale, her work with Zazie Beetz and Alexander Skarsgård and the importance of representation in Hollywood and also offers a few nuggets for the upcoming second season of The Game.
Pop Culture Principle – The last time we saw Candice was in the Season 2-episode Champagne Papi. When did you find out you were not only coming back for an episode, but this incredible Season 3 finale and shooting in Paris?
Adriyan Rae – So, they called my manager and inquired about my availability. Originally, Candice wasn’t supposed to be in this finally. There was supposed to be a different character in the finale, but the actress was no longer available after such a long hiatus, so they thought Candice would be a good fit for the episode. I actually did a re-audition via zoom and found out that I booked the episode and that’s when I found out it was going to shoot in Paris. I had never been there before and was really excited. It was amazing and everything just fell into place. I had just left Chicago Fire and that opened me up to be able to do this and everything just worked out and it just seemed like God placed it all how it was supposed to be.
Adriyan Rae – You know, Stefani Robinson and Donald Glover really did an amazing job of blending it. I’m not sure the name of the character that was supposed to be in the episode, but it was a different one originally and the audition was to make sure it blended and worked with what they were going for.
In Season 2, Candice’s arc wasn’t as drastic. She kind of popped in and they went to Drake’s party and then she was out. It was cool because I got to create that arc with her and she had growth in between that time period, so they didn’t have to necessarily have to be the same exact person which allowed us to create the nuances for her to really blend into the story that they had created.
Pop Culture Principle – It was funny that although Candice kept telling Shanice and Xosha that Van isn’t French and this was all a façade, they truly don’t know here and actually liked who she is? Would you agree?
Adriyan Rae – I really loved how Stefani and Donald allowed Candice to be the voice of the audience. She was feeling and saying the stuff that the audience wanted to say and I love that Candice got to be the vessel in that episode, it’s so brilliant.
Pop Culture Principle – Many fans were surprised, in a good way that the finale focused on Van and her situation in Paris. Do you feel the episode was still true to the essence of the series even though some of the main characters were absent?
Adriyan Rae – First, fun fact. When I filmed this episode, it was not the finale from my understanding. I think that after it was filmed, things got shifted around and they felt as though it should be the finale. Some people get convoluted a bit when they feel that Atlanta has to be a certain way when in all actuality, the essence of Atlanta is a creative playground that allows you to see things from a different perspective. It introduces conversation, it introduces perspectives in a creative and artistic way that makes you think.
So, that doesn’t mean it necessarily has to be structured like a regular sitcom or a regular comedy. It allows the freedom to really create and that is what is so brilliant about Atlanta. All of this is the essence of Atlanta in my opinion.
Pop Culture Principle – One of the stand out scenes in this episode was the museum scene were Van beats Emilio with the baguette. Can you talk about filming that particular scene?
Adriyan Rae – First of all, the art was beautiful. Shooting that scene was hilarious and Zazie is a powerhouse. She is so freaking good and when she pulled that bread out and started whooping his ass, it was so hilarious. All of us in the background had to be in the moment, but it was so genius! It was a blast shooting it!
Pop Culture Principle – Alexander Skarsgård makes a hilarious cameo in the Season 3 finale. Can you talk about his appearance in the episode and did you get a chance to talk with him during filming?
Adriyan Rae – He is so cool. We are just all regular people which is the coolest thing. The beautiful part about being a part of the Atlanta set is that we are just there to create and there are no egos. Alexander is so down to earth and it was such a joy working with him.
Pop Culture Principle – You and Zazie Beetz really played well off one another and were standouts in the episode. Can you talk about working with Zazie in the episode?
Adriyan Rae – I’ve learned from Zazie just from our personal conversations that I am enough and I am powerful and also learned the power of presence. She sat down with me and we flushed things out for our characters together which is why I feel like the scenes turned out so beautifully because we built a real relationship between Candice and Van which before we didn’t get to see that because Candice was so in and out. So, I learned a lot about being present and a lot about sharing. She’s such a giving actor and whatever we can, we give to each other in the scenes.
Pop Culture Principle – It took Candice bringing up Van’s daughter Lottie to break that façade just a little and get her to start to open up. Would you agree?
Adriyan Rae – It’s funny, that scene turned out to be very different from what I did in the audition. In the audition I did that scene really spicy, but Donald came in and said that this is your friend and see how it feels to really talk to your friend when you are really concerned and it really grounded me. It was a really powerful scene and it felt so fluid and I loved how Candice stepped to her with compassion instead of snapping on her. Van needed someone to step to her with love and the writing really made that scene so powerful.
Pop Culture Principle – How important is a show like Atlanta in terms of its topics, its intelligence and what the show represents?
Adriyan Rae – It’s important for black people, black children to really see that our art isn’t limited to certain genres or things that may be spoon fed to them through social media or something like that. Our art can be intelligent and quirky and different and that is more than just acceptable, it’s beautiful and great. The importance of it is found in the amount of thought provoking conversations that it brings up.
It really allows you different perspectives and when you have a different perspective, it allows dual perspectives. It allows understanding which allows unity and compassion, things that this world truly lacks. So, I think that shows like Atlanta really helps raise the vibration of where we are at and it just shows so many different layers to not just black people, but to the world. We need to be seen as more than just rappers and basketball players and basketball housewives. We need to be seen in all the aspects that we are and in our true capacity and know that that is more than just enough, it’s freaking fantastic!
Adriyan Rae – I love my cast. Wendy Raquel Robinson is such a powerhouse. I remember the first scene we did together, I was so nervous because she is so good, but she just dropped these little nuggets for me when working together. She is giving back to the community in so many ways and is also teaching young minds. The cast is amazing and everyone is so dope and it’s just a blast to be a part of that cast.
Pop Culture Principle – For fans who are eagerly awaiting the second season, is there anything you can say that the fans can look forward to?
Adriyan Rae – I have a few nuggets for the second season. First, everything is on the line for Tasha and you don’t want to miss that and in regards to Brittany, she is evolving and from that evolution comes the evolution of her relationships.
Pop Culture Principle – What advice would you give to someone who is looking at getting into acting, especially actors of color?
Adriyan Rae – I would say the first thing to do is to train and you don’t have to necessarily train at the places that everyone else trains at or train in a certain way. You need to train and find the coaches that not only resonate with you, but the coaches that really hone in on what you bring to a character that’s special and help you figure out you as an actor. I think a lot of classes in LA specifically can be very cookie cutter. They hand you a scene and you go and work on it and then everyone presents it. Most of your acting time will be you watching other people act when you can do that at home watching television. So, I think that you have to really find the coach that hones in on you as an actor.
The second thing I would say is don’t rush it, but the team that you surround yourself with is going to make or break you. I’m not saying CAA or ICM, but whoever rocks with you, that’s who needs to be on your team. That’s who is going to stick with you through thick and thin and they need to believe in you just as much or even more than you believe in yourself, otherwise they are not going to work as hard for your or push as hard for you as you would for yourself. So, that would be my advice.
Pop Culture Principle – Are there any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
Adriyan Rae – Everything is hush hush for now, but stay tuned. Until then, make sure you check out Season 3 of Atlanta on Hulu!
A huge thank you to Adriyan Rae for taking the time to talk with us! You can watch the latest Season of Atlanta on FX and Hulu!
**Main photo courtesy of James Anthony**
**All Atlanta photos courtesy of Roger Do Minh/FX**
**The Game photo courtesy of Tom Griscom/Paramount+**