As Robin Thede prepared to launch her new HBO series A Black Lady Sketch Show, the creator, writer and executive producer took an “intentional” approach with every element of the series.
That includes the dynamic, star-studded trailer that HBO premiered earlier this month, which previews the sketch comedy’s dynamic, hilarious characters.
“It was really important the we get across the variety of sketches and characters that we’re playing. The core cast of four plays over a hundred original characters in six episodes. That’s crazy,” Thede said during the Television Critics Association summer press tour on Wednesday.
Promos were “intrinsic to the show’s nature,” because they helped capture its “essence” and variety long before the series premieres on Aug. 2.
It also previewed the slew of celebrity guest stars, including Laverne Cox, Tia Mowry, Gina Torres, Patti LaBelle, and Golden Globe award-winning actress Angela Bassett.
“The trailer and every frame of these promos [make] you go, ‘Wow, they’re doing everything on this show.’ Then, at the end, you go, ‘Holy crap, they have all of these guest stars and I love all these people,’” Thede said.
But choosing to include nearly 21 guest stars in the spot wasn’t just for promotion; it was another intentional decision to represent black women of different sizes, skin tones, sexual orientations and ages.
“We wanted to really show the variety among black women so that a show that seems very singular can be universally funny and appreciated,” Thede said.
Inclusivity played a large role in the series’ title as well, says Issa Rae, executive producer and co-star in the series. The duo explored different options—changing the name from The Black Lady Sketch Show to A Black Lady Sketch Show— to respect all black women’s experiences.
“Any time you call something ‘The’ Black Lady Sketch Show, there’s somebody that’s going to be like, ‘Well, whose black ladies are those? Because that’s not me,’” Rae said. “I think you have to articulate every single time that this is not going to represent everyone’s experiences.”
“In no way would I ever claim to represent all black women as do none of the women in the show, but we can at least show you a lot of variety,” Thede said.