What to Watch

What to Watch With Gina Torres, Pearson and Suits Star

The actress, who executive produces and stars in the USA network spinoff about lawyer Jessica Pearson, tells Rotten Tomatoes what she's been watching recently.

by | July 17, 2019 | Comments

Gina Torres at the after-party for HBO Emmy Awards After-Party - Part 2, Pacific Design Center, Los Angeles, CA September 17, 2018. Photo By: Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection

(Photo by Priscilla Grant/Everett Collection)

While USA’s legal drama Suits is heading into its ninth and final season, the story isn’t over for Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), who is embarking on a new adventure on the spin-off series Pearson. After being disbarred, the former powerhouse lawyer has headed to Chicago and becomes involved with politics in the Windy City. Once she’s appointed as the mayor’s right-hand fixer, she becomes embroiled in the contentious (and occasionally crooked) scene.

Torres, who is also an executive producer on the new series, spoke to Rotten Tomatoes about bringing the show she envisioned to life, getting to see new sides of a character she’s played for many years, and what she’s currently watching.

What’s appointment viewing for you?


(Photo by ABC/Heidi Gutman)

Oh, God! [I’m never home] and able to sit down in front of anything. The closest thing to appointment viewing I gotta say is … The View. I love The View! I’ll try to tape it if I know somebody wonderful is on. I love to watch those ladies debate, because they’re all smart and they all have a point of view. They’re all strong women with a point of view, and not just political but social. They cover such a wide ground and they keep it fun. They’ve got a great panel now. They’re all well-suited and interesting.

What’s in your streaming queue?

Streaming is The Handmaid’s Tale, The Crown — when that comes back. It’s been a while, right? I miss them! I started watching something the other day. It’s hard to get consistent with it. I do love Outlander. That’s on there. But, I’m like a season and a half behind. It took me so long to get out of France!

What shows are on your DVR?

On my DVR is Yellowstone. I’m a Kevin Costner super-fan. I’ve just loved him since Field of Dreams. I would watch anything and everything and he’s been in. The thing about being an actor and you’re blessed with a long career is that you can see the arc of the man and the roles that they choose and the things that they put into place, and he’s been producing content for quite some time now. You can just see that this is something so close to his heart; the topics that he’s bringing up — the indigenous people and reservation life — and he’s bringing it up in such a way that you never see. He’s not an immediately likable character on the show, which I also love just in terms of the trajectory of an actor and what they choose to do in the course of their lives. It’s smart, intelligent storytelling with a fantastic cast and interesting characters.

I also have a bunch of old movies that if I see Turner Classic Movies is going to air way too late I’ll just record. “Oh, NetworkI haven’t seen that in forever!” “The China Syndrome, I love that!” “Yes, love Barbara Stanwyck!” All of those things are on [my DVR too].

What’s coming soon that you can’t wait for?


PEARSON -- Pictured: Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson -- (Photo by: Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

(Photo by Isabella Vosmikova/USA Network)

Jean Bentley for Rotten Tomatoes: When you left Suits you probably didn’t know that you were going to revisit Jessica Pearson on her very own series.

Torres: No, absolutely not. That was not part of the plan.

It seems that you were the driving force behind getting this series made. Why it was so important to you?

I needed a job! So, that’s a pretty strong driving force. You never really know how things are going to come together. I was already in the process of putting my foot into the producer pool and looking to partner with writers and create original content and put shows on the air that not only spoke to me but I believed would speak to people that were feeling underrepresented in telling stories that were reflective of the world that I live in. Really the 2016 election just changed everything. I was sitting there watching real drama play out, a really interesting cast of characters doing their thing day in and day out. I started thinking about Jessica, and I started thinking about Jessica in terms of politics and the similarities of her characteristics that were in line with those that I was watching. From an outsider’s perspective, she can be kind of shady . She can be a little manipulative and she’s incredibly powerful. She knows where a lot of bodies are buried, and she can at any given moment decide to use her powers for good — or evil. But she’s always chosen good.

When we last saw her, that was her choice. She was leaving corporate life and she wanted to get back to what was important to her, and I thought, well, what better way to do that than in the political arena, to bring all her skill sets to the political world? Because the last time we saw her, she was on her way to Chicago to be reunited with Jeff [D.B. Woodside]. That’s organically where this story leads us. I told the right people and they were super interested in this dynamic as well, and in the narrative, and we all got to work to make it happen.

What new sides of Jessica will we be able to see on the show that we didn’t really get to see on Suits?

We got to see very little of Jessica’s personal life and all the repercussions of the choices that she’s made. She was always so very busy saving the firm or saving somebody attached to the firm. We’re going to get to see a fully realized woman which I’m very, very excited about. She gets a family now — a family that she didn’t know she had and a family that doesn’t necessarily like her very much all the time, and how that shakes her up a little bit. Navigating the new world of the mayor’s office, of city hall. Whether or not her past will actually serve her for the better or whether it’s an impediment. She’s not coming in clean. So, there’s that — and she’s working alongside the woman who took her license. We also get into her relationship with Jeff, so there’s a lot of heart and soul and vulnerability to this Jessica.

PEARSON -- "The Alderman" Episode 101 -- Pictured: Gina Torres as Jessica Pearson -- (Photo by: Scott Everett White/USA Network)

(Photo by Scott Everett White/USA Network)

What’s something about producing that has surprised you or been difficult to juggle alongside starring in the show?

Fortunately, a lot of the pre-production is where I get to roll up my sleeves and really get in there. It’s storylines and casting and making sure that our vision of the show stays as true and consistent throughout the season, and to find ways of pushing the envelope. That’s fun and that’s exciting and I love that.

The challenges of it are being new to this area, being new as an executive producer, and remembering that I actually have a say. That I can speak up and request or question or participate and add to the conversation things that may not have been heard if I were just an actress. Just remembering that you have that power is a new skill set. That’s a new muscle! And then learning how to make your voice heard in such a way that’s not defensive or alienating or none of it’s an argument. We’re all just sharing. I think just as actors we’re collaborative. You just have to remember that you have the power!

Yeah! You have the power and you know you have the competence, you know you have the skills. You just have to be able to do it.

Right! But that’s the thing — I’ve been doing it for so long you kind of forget how much you know. You’re in the room and you’re going, “Wait, I think it would be better if…” I have this conversation with people all the time — [as an actor] you’re so concerned about what the next job is going to be that it’s hard to lift your head up and see how far you’ve come. When you take stock of certainly all of my experience and all of the people that I’ve gotten to work with and all of the people that I’ve gotten to learn from, it’s all in there. It’s time to put it to use.

Pearson premieres on the same night as the final season of Suits. Do you feel bittersweet about that show ending? Jessica Pearson is alive and well and thriving in Chicago.

Well, I’m not saying goodbye to Jessica at all. I’m saying, “Hey girl, hey!” That’s a good feeling. It’s bittersweet. It was because of Suits I get to have Jessica and all her fabulousness forever more. I got to meet some incredible dear, dear people. Also, from a completely objective perspective, that was a really good run, and a rare one. I mean, we all know a lot of things don’t last that long at all, and so to have lightning strike in such a beautiful way is great. So, everybody, you can pat yourselves on the back and say job well done.

Pearson premieres Wednesday, July 17 at 10 p.m. on USA.

Like this? Subscribe to our newsletter and get more features, news, and guides in your inbox every week.

Tag Cloud

Valentine's Day Crunchyroll WarnerMedia ESPN Arrowverse Star Trek 93rd Oscars nature El Rey romantic comedy based on movie women black richard e. Grant OneApp ABC First Look BBC Podcast period drama Netflix Lifetime superman know your critic TCA Awards Musicals remakes Grammys Horror monster movies science fiction BET Winners binge sequels police drama fast and furious 2017 TCA Winter 2020 Freeform Mindy Kaling children's TV GIFs Oscars psychological thriller TV The Arrangement name the review technology Premiere Dates Fox Searchlight psycho Pop Cosplay HBO hispanic sequel obituary sitcom MTV transformers true crime Spectrum Originals Polls and Games TCM die hard VICE HBO Max LGBTQ Mudbound Video Games cancelled television thriller heist movie Anna Paquin strong female leads jamie lee curtis Sci-Fi green book BBC One BBC America dragons Reality Competition Opinion werewolf versus facebook Shondaland joker crossover Best and Worst stop motion mission: impossible sports parents sag awards Star Wars LGBT harry potter Calendar Baby Yoda Warner Bros. Mary poppins zombie Holidays Animation Paramount Network Britbox SDCC diversity WGN Shudder MCU news razzies international X-Men Comedy Central pirates of the caribbean Set visit Character Guide Trailer Emmy Nominations CNN ghosts spinoff E! Disney streaming service tv talk comics YouTube Red Sony Pictures Amazon Prime Video 2020 Mary Tyler Moore Trophy Talk American Society of Cinematographers Thanksgiving target award winner 4/20 Hulu documentary worst witnail DC Comics indie Pride Month mockumentary 2021 Pacific Islander CW Seed reviews theme song See It Skip It Christmas series critics Ghostbusters SXSW The Academy APB scene in color Extras GLAAD FX on Hulu 99% screen actors guild Watching Series The Purge 24 frames james bond Brie Larson BET Awards docudrama japanese CBS Food Network kids YouTube Premium Film spy thriller Exclusive Video GoT ITV boxoffice what to watch Adult Swim new zealand Comic Book Sundance TV USA Network kong war reboot streaming movies TCA NBC TNT emmy awards political drama spanish docuseries laika cops Disney+ Disney Plus australia Awards Tour aapi casting scorecard dramedy universal monsters live action The Walt Disney Company PlayStation elevated horror independent Rocketman book MSNBC cats godzilla Election TCA 2017 Mary Poppins Returns classics Chernobyl DC Universe Netflix Christmas movies Comedy 2016 justice league Endgame The Witch natural history films Pixar Reality toronto Bravo Marvel nfl italian asian-american A24 blockbusters cults Song of Ice and Fire Stephen King comic quibi Syfy anthology ViacomCBS game show Epix DC streaming service Biopics chucky television free movies new york FXX Universal composers Mystery doctor who worst movies travel Photos Ellie Kemper Disney Plus History Black History Month RT History nbcuniversal animated concert Binge Guide Television Critics Association boxing Interview Awards revenge rotten Comics on TV franchise king kong President AMC Image Comics canceled TV renewals National Geographic YouTube Columbia Pictures Red Carpet cartoon TBS Superheroe Vudu cancelled TV shows marvel cinematic universe Winter TV cooking Country supernatural Dark Horse Comics foreign dc Rom-Com game of thrones Amazon Studios Spike spanish language fresh Legendary 45 The Walking Dead Countdown Starz Fall TV book adaptation San Diego Comic-Con historical drama Music IFC Films indiana jones renewed TV shows PaleyFest Kids & Family Hallmark Christmas movies NYCC BAFTA rt archives Pirates adventure Academy Awards VH1 Schedule blockbuster Avengers DirecTV 21st Century Fox Apple TV Plus First Reviews lord of the rings Black Mirror crime drama Turner new star wars movies Tumblr comedies adaptation Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt Nat Geo vampires Fantasy child's play CMT The CW Superheroes Emmys Sundance A&E Discovery Channel 007 Disney football criterion Lucasfilm Lifetime Christmas movies festivals hollywood Nominations Peacock Martial Arts scary movies documentaries video dceu Hear Us Out saw Creative Arts Emmys OWN 2015 hist disaster dark Apple TV+ festival Rock finale Sundance Now halloween tv venice cancelled crime Marvel Studios Ovation batman Turner Classic Movies talk show FOX zero dark thirty popular TV movies 71st Emmy Awards satire Amazon Prime serial killer USA halloween Chilling Adventures of Sabrina high school screenings deadpool Musical DGA romance Toys south america Cannes Funimation aliens Lionsgate movies PBS hidden camera robots toy story discovery zombies spider-man Marvel Television trailers cancelled TV series christmas movies Tomatazos video on demand Alien Women's History Month french space ABC Signature crime thriller Broadway IFC latino Travel Channel 20th Century Fox Drama Nickelodeon Amazon Disney Channel Marathons dogs TruTV Action VOD Cartoon Network ID 2019 Film Festival Hallmark streaming social media best Pop TV politics ratings Tubi anime Certified Fresh rom-coms Trivia Super Bowl RT21 spain Logo HBO Go ABC Family Apple stand-up comedy archives Captain marvel 78th Annual Golden Globe Awards stoner comic books directors prank Writers Guild of America Box Office blaxploitation SundanceTV movie Classic Film New York Comic Con Paramount Plus Quiz Year in Review TV One all-time E3 72 Emmy Awards TIFF cinemax Television Academy Teen Pet Sematary Summer Western teaser canceled TV shows Spring TV a nightmare on elm street biography FX Rocky Paramount singing competition Walt Disney Pictures YA mutant 2018 rotten movies we love telelvision Acorn TV Elton John unscripted Esquire comiccon miniseries Holiday cars Sneak Peek Heroines superhero medical drama breaking bad Tarantino TV Land slashers Showtime golden globes Family Crackle CBS All Access twilight Fox News jurassic park golden globe awards Infographic kaiju Masterpiece TLC