Your Honor star Andrene Ward-Hammond on why Big Mo stands out

Andrene Ward-Hammond. Photo Credit: Wesley Voicy/Courtesy of PR Machine.
Andrene Ward-Hammond. Photo Credit: Wesley Voicy/Courtesy of PR Machine. /

The Showtime crime drama Your Honor airs its finale on Sunday, which means that it’ll be the last we see of Big Mo, the scene-stealing gang leader played by Andrene Ward-Hammond.

Precinct TV spoke to Andrene about how she joined the series in the first place, what it was like for her to play the leader of the Desire gang when that’s traditionally a male role, and what she loves about the show.

Get to know Andrene Ward-Hammond more in our interview before the Your Honor finale airs this Sunday, Feb. 14 at 10:00 p.m. on Showtime. If you need to catch up on the miniseries, you can use the Showtime website or app.

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Precinct TV: What attracted you to Your Honor in the first place?

Andrene Ward-Hammond: I’m still green, so the work that comes, I take it. But I’ve been gifted to be involved with incredibly socially aware projects. I don’t know how they fall in my lap. I’m super grateful for it. I think with this particular character—the show itself, who would say no to a show with Bryan Cranston?

But Big Mo, as gritty as she is and as ugly as the role that she plays within her community, she’s still a mothering figure. She still supports and looks out for her community in this non-traditional way. I like colorful characters, and I think this was an opportunity that was afforded to me to not only play a mothering figure, but one that’s a little less virtuous.

She’s super-colorful. I don’t often get to play what’s seen as a villainous character. I’m generally a mom, or very no-nonsense, but never one that’s seen not in the best light. I thought that was exciting just by itself, but [they] said Bryan Cranston, so I was there. (laughs)

PTV: We don’t see a lot of female gang leaders depicted on TV. That role is normally given to a man. Was that part of the appeal? How did you approach that role as a woman?

AWH: The way that she’s even introduced on the show is super-unassuming. I love characters who are underestimated, underdogs. We live in patriarchy. So to see a badass female in a place of power, that by itself is empowering because we’re finally in a place where folks have to just get used to it. And anytime that I get to play a person in power, I’m thrilled.

She’s bold and in your face. There’s something so calming and very quiet about her that when she’s introduced, you didn’t even know that she was the one in charge. So I don’t see how you wouldn’t be excited about that.

PTV: What did you connect to with Big Mo? Because as you said, Your Honor doesn’t depict her in the best light, but you also can’t judge your character.

AWH: You can’t. From a performer’s perspective, the minute that you judge the character, you can no longer be authentic to it. We all do things in the grand scheme of things for what we’d like to think is the greater good. I think the show just explores how ugly that looks at the end of the day, and how many people it affects in the grand scheme of things.

I can’t look at Big Mo and say she wasn’t trying to protect her community or those that are around it, and provide opportunities for her community to eat, because as we see socioeconomically, there are very extensive differences within the community. And if those opportunities aren’t afforded, what can you do?

I can say that what I do for my community is just so that they can make ends meet. Is this opportunity being afforded to them otherwise? Probably not in the same way. So I can’t judge her. And to connect to the idea that I’m black, so I get it. I see. I have peers who are not afforded. They aren’t given these opportunities, or they come from a background where, because of the color of their skin, they haven’t been able to get to certain heights. So I can sympathize with that part of it. You see so much of it.

There’s such a love-hate relationship with all the characters, but I do see what she was trying to do as a mom. Me personally as a mom, [and] as a figure within the community who knows, if you don’t have food, what do you do? What is it that you’re willing to fight for to get that? It’s a scratch and survive kind of thing.

PTV: Do you have a favorite Your Honor moment for Big Mo?

AWH: it’s one that they aired already. the meeting of two bosses, and how I introduce myself into their environment…It shows how unafraid she is to fight for what’s hers, and to support to her community. So that scene in the hotel, I think it’s everything. It demonstrates how far information moves, and how smart and how powerful she is in spite of what’s assumed. That hotel scene, boy, [is] I think by far the most fun.

PTV: With the miniseries winding down this week, what other Andrene Ward-Hammond role would you recommend to viewers who’ve loved you in this show?

AWH: Manifest because I’m doing that right now. I’m still shooting Manifest. I have a soft spot for Manifest, because I love Melissa Roxburgh. We have fun every time we’re on set. And for as heavy as the material is, we can giggle our way through anything even to the point of tears when we’re supposed to be serious. So Manifest, I think, is a big one. And I like sci-fi, so I always push everybody to sci-fi.

If you haven’t already, Lovecraft Country. That is a binger if I’ve ever experienced the show. I’ve binged it twice. Really triggering sometimes. But I love sci-fi and horror, and you don’t often get to see it as it plays into stories of that nature.

PTV: Is there any final message you want to leave viewers with before the finale?

AWH: In spite of the fact that everybody’s doing this good thing for the people they love, so many are affected. I think that’s how we go about life a lot, and it’s unfortunate that we don’t take into account other people’s experiences, and their livelihoods.

And I think we always look for an ending, or a good one, in the stories that we watch, in shows. And life doesn’t present itself like that. Sometimes we don’t get the answer that we want. Sometimes we don’t get an answer at all.

That’s what I love about Peter Moffatt’s approach to his shows and his writing. It challenges us to be uncomfortable with that. We don’t know right now. And every week we are on pins and needles trying to figure out what life is after this, and how could this be true, and these are real-life experiences. It’s beautiful.

Next. All Rise star J. Alex Brinson talks to Precinct TV. dark

Your Honor airs Sundays at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT on Showtime.