The actress tells EW that her lengthy Harlem audition process was part of her journey to "break the misconception that 'Meagan Good is just this.' "
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As soon as she read the script for the new Prime Video comedy Harlem, Meagan Good immediately connected with Camille, a popular Columbia University professor and one of the four best friends featured in the show.

Her spot on the Prime Video series (all episodes are out today) was hard won. Creator Tracy Oliver recently told EW that while she was initially hesitant to cast Good, the actress was willing to do whatever it took to prove she could "embody" Camille. "And then as soon as she did, we were all like, 'Oh, it's her. It's absolutely her.' And she was amazing. And I was wrong," Oliver said.

Harlem follows Good, Grace Byers, Jerrie Johnson, and Shoniqua Shandai as four women who live in the titular NYC neighborhood, and explores the romantic and professional bumps in the road that come with their 30s. "I haven't really played a character like this yet," says Good, whose decades of acting credits include everything from Eve's Bayou to Brick, and Think Like a Man to Shazam!. She adds that her own 30s included a lot of "trying to break the misconception that 'Meagan Good is just this.'"

Read on to learn why the show was a unique experience for Good, and how she found support from comedy icons like costars Whoopi Goldberg, Andrea Martin, and executive producer Amy Poehler.

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Meagan Good on the Prime Video series 'Harlem.'
| Credit: amazon studios

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Given how long you've been acting, and the breadth of roles we've seen you take on, the assumption would be that Harlem offered you the role of Camille automatically. However, Tracy [Oliver] told us that you had a long audition process before booking the part. What's your side of how you ended up on the show?

MEAGAN GOOD: It's crazy. I read the script, I fell in love with it! I fell in love with Camille. And I went in and I met with Tracy, and in my mind, I was like, "Okay, cool. I think they're coming to me for this, and if they do, then, like, the answer's yes." And then I didn't hear anything for two weeks, and I was like, "Oh, okay. Maybe they weren't coming to me." ... I think for me, what it felt like, which might not have been the case, was, I haven't really played a character like this yet. And a lot of people are not familiar with me in this way. In my 20s, I was really just trying to break out of being a child actor and be like, "I am a woman and I am grown." So I kind of became the sexy girl, and the love interest, and all of that. And then I really struggled with showing people I'm capable of so much more to share if you just give me a chance. My 30s were a lot of just trying to break the misconception that "Meagan Good is just this," you know?

When I got the call, I was at the top of [L.A. rooftop bar] Mama Shelter in a meeting, and instantly, when I answered the phone, and they were like, "You got it," I just burst out crying. Because I wanted to do Camille so bad. It was such a special character to me and such a special show for so many reasons. So yeah, it was a bit of a process for sure.

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Grace Byers, Jerrie Johnson, Shoniqua Shandai, and Meagan Good play the leads on 'Harlem' on Prime Video.
| Credit: Sarah Shatz/Amazon Studios

How would you describe Camille? What attracted you to the role, or even the show in general?

Well, Camille is an optimist. She will spiral at the possibilities, but she always comes back to believing anything is possible and resets her mind. She's going to get it together and do the thing. She's also just a total boss, and very sophisticated and intellectual, but in the same breath, she's kind of a nerd. She's awkward and can be vulnerable and insecure. What I love about her is she's this pot of so many things, and those things can be messy at times. I think that we, as human beings, are that. And that's not always shown. Sometimes it's like, "Oh, they've got everything together. They're perfect. They're just such a boss." Or "They just don't have anything together and they're struggling with this thing." And it really is a mix of both. I fell in love with the character because the quirky way that she expresses herself is something that I can relate to. 

You mentioned testing for the show, was that in person or on Zoom? 

It was before COVID. We actually got the show, went to New York, got up through half of episode three, and then the pandemic happened and we shut down for the next year. And it was always like, "Are we going to get to finish the show? Are we going to come back? Are we going to get Whoopi back? Is this going to happen?" And as soon as the year ended, they were like, "All right, we're going to go back, and we're going to finish it." And that was the best.

Obviously dire circumstances, but did you guys take advantage of that time and come back to set with bonds that were just incredibly solid? 

Yeah, I mean, those bonds were solid before the pandemic. We spoke throughout the pandemic, loved on each other, had our text thread, joking, all of that. But when we got back to the set, it was like no time had passed at all. We instantly picked up where we left off, except that we were closer because we had survived this pandemic together, and had stayed in touch. And we were all having a unique experience, career-wise, just with it being shut down, and then going into this thing, and coming back to it. All of it just further cemented how close we are.

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Whoopi Goldberg plays Meagan Good's boss on Prime Video comedy 'Harlem.'
| Credit: amazon studios

While you're no stranger to comedy, it's been a while since you've done one. What was it like to come back to the genre opposite comedy legends like Andrea Martin and Whoopi Goldberg?

Amazing. Amazing to meet people that you look up to and respect, and they're so humble and kind. With Whoopi specifically, I was an extra in Soapdish when I was 10. So 30 years later, I'm now sharing the screen with her as an actress that's in the scene, in the moment. And I just was impressed by her, by Jasmine Guy. I mean, everybody that's come through the show has been so lovely. And just wanting to show up for the thing, and humble, and kind. It's so wonderful when you meet someone and they're even better than I could have imagined.

Was it difficult at all to finally be acting opposite Whoopi, but the dynamic between Camille and her character be so tense? Did Camille's disappointment in their relationship bleed into your relationship with Whoopi?

It wasn't hard, because I think I felt very safe with her. The dynamic of our relationship on set was like her as a mentor. She actually was a mentor to one of the directors that were filming two of the episodes, and they didn't even know they were going to work with each other. It was like, "Oh my gosh!" And because she's such a woman of women empowerment and mentoring, and wanting to see this younger generation win, and pour into them, things would happen on set — like I'm doing my lines, and I'm trying to pronounce "Seneca Village," and I keep calling it, "See-neck-ah Village," and she'll be like, "Seneca." And I'm like, "Right, right, right. I got it." And I'm just butchering it on her coverage. 

And then when we turn around, I come into the room to do my coverage, and I look down, and Whoopi's written out "Seneca Village," but she broke it up to pronounce it easier. And it's taped across her breast for my coverage, just to see me win. And that was the dynamic of our relationship — and dare I say, friendship. She's so dope. I love her. And I think because of that safety, you feel freer when you're in these scenes to push harder on the awkward or the hard stuff. Because you're like, "I'm safe. It's all good. She knows my heart." We do something and Whoopi afterward is like, "I'm sorry!" And I'm like, "It's good girl, go harder." You know? So it was excellent.

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Shoniqua Shandai and Meagan Good as Angie and Camille on 'Harlem.'
| Credit: amazon studios

Was that the dynamic working on the rest of the show as well, with the other ladies?

Yes, with Andrea, Jasmine, my sisters on the show, Tracy, [executive producers] Mimi, Amy — everybody. Amy Poehler would come to set with just that energy of like, "I'm so here for y'all. I love you guys, in all your glory, and I want to see you win. What do you need from me?" And Mimi Valdes was always there supporting and loving, and pouring on. And Tracy, she's so special. It's been nothing but a woman love pile-on experience. And like I said, it's not always like that. So it's really special that it's like that on this.

The entire first season of Harlem is now streaming on Prime Video.

This interview has been edited and condensed.

Check out our daily must-see picks — plus news, celeb interviews, trivia, and more — on EW's What to Watch podcast.

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