UnREAL season 2: B.J. Britt plays new suitor Darius Hill: Interview
B.J. Britt is here to find love. In the second season of Lifetime’s subversive (and sequined) series about the making of a reality dating show, the 33-year-old Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. alum will play Darius Hill, a pro football player and Everlasting‘s first black bachelor. He steps into EW’s confessional.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Production starts in March: How are you preparing?
B.J. BRITT: I’ve been doing my homework by watching the first season. Honestly, before I got the role, I never knew how big the show was, but I was hooked immediately. It talks about things people don’t want to talk about, whether it’s domestic violence or mental illness or suicide. People like to sweep these things under the rug, but this show hits them head-on.
And now it’s tackling race by featuring a black suitor — something its real-life inspiration, The Bachelor, has never done. How are you feeling about that?
Oh my God, I just feel pressure! People don’t like to talk about race. Everyone’s like, “Shhh, you can’t say this, you can’t say that.” You know, no one can get in trouble for [casting a black suitor] because he’s a fictional character, but at the same time, we can bring [the issue] out. And so I’m very excited and very stoked to be able to play a character that’s going to speak to a lot of people. It’s going to make you think.
How will Darius further the race-in-reality-TV discussion? What have the writers told you?
They’ve given me the outline. Quinn [Constance Zimmer] and Rachel [Shiri Appleby] are going to touch on black issues a lot, but for Darius, it’s like, “Is it their story to tell?” These [are] two white women. Will Darius stand up and be like, “This is my story to tell”? His job is to stay squeaky-clean, to be seen and not heard, so this is going to be difficult for him. He basically steps into this full, all-out war between [former Everlasting showrunner] Chet and Rachel and Quinn. … It’s going to be interesting to see [what he does] in order to clean up the mess he put himself into.
Have you met the other cast members yet?
No, not yet, but it’s funny, I met Constance over at Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. when they were doing the whole Dubsmash War. We all went in and did it, and I met her very briefly in the last one they did … Josh Kelly [who plays Jeremy] reached out over Twitter welcoming me. I can’t wait to see them in person and everything, to hang out. It’ll be fun … I love working with people I’ve never worked with before, and I mean, on a show that has me hooked, I’m looking forward to it. I’m just ready to get in there and get started. I wish we were starting to shoot tomorrow, I’m so ready!
Let’s go back to the beginning: Tell me about your casting. Do you remember how that went and how you felt?
It was actually my last audition before Christmas. I loved the role, loved where they were taking this character, and after reading, my agent emailed me and said they loved what I’m doing. So I was like, “Yay! Great Christmas present! Yay, me!” [Laughs] I was jumping up and down. Especially as an up-and-comer, you always want to work. When you get roles like these that are meaningful, that’s going to shake up hot topics… it’s an honor. It’s just amazing to be a part of this groundbreaking show, you know?
Seeing as this show pulls back the curtain on The Bachelor, have you been tuning in to this season of the real-life Everlasting?
No. [Laughs] I caught an episode or two, but my buddies keep teasing me about being “the bachelor.” [I watched] just to see what goes on from that side. People like to think that just because one of the execs [Sarah Gertrude Shapiro] worked on The Bachelor, that [UnREAL] is the same. [But] a lot of these topics are topics the writers and producers feel very, very strongly about, and they have a platform they can use to get these issues talked about. Still, in this day and age, we’re doing the things we were doing [decades] ago. It made me get even deeper into the role.
So far, you’ve caught up on UnREAL — what else is on your to-do list?
[The producers] said they wanted me to gain some muscle. They were like, “B.J., you’re probably going to have your shirt off a lot,” and I’m like, “Come on, abs! Let’s go!” [Laughs] So I started to [work with] a trainer, and every time I’m feeling fatigued, my trainer goes, “Do it for UnREAL! Give me that last set, do it for UnREAL!” … I mean, [the show] is killing it right now. I gotta bring my A-game.
UnREAL is set to return this summer on Lifetime.
A version of this story originally appeared in Entertainment Weekly issue #1403-1404, on newsstands now or available digitally here.