Samora Smallwood stars in the new drama series “The Kings of Napa” airing now on the OWN Network.

The Kings of Napa is focused on a gorgeous and picturesque Napa Valley, California vineyard owned by the Kings. They’re an aspirational African American family whose wealth and status lands them on the pages of design magazines and society pages. Samora Smallwood plays Maddi Brewer, the insanely cool, chic funny gynecologist and August King’s best friend.
The wine business has brought the family success and acclaim. After the patriarch’s sudden exit from the company, his three children must grapple for the reins to the kingdom—to their own power, wealth and legacy.
As the drama unfolds, Maddi finds herself caught between her best friends August and Bridgette Pierce. They fight over the family vineyard, birthright and what it means to be family.
Samora Smallwood

Photo: Robert Obumselu

Samora Smallwood Talks Acting, Life Skills, And More…

How did you prepare for your role as Maddi Brewer?

My prep is different for every project. Some roles require dialect work for an accent or a physical skill like sword fighting but my preparation always includes meditation, clean, plant-based eating, and creating the character’s origin story. That’s important for me because it informs the character’s actions. For Maddie, I knew from the script that she is bold, sexy, and powerful so I created her story to explain how she became that way.

What would you say was the most challenging aspect of becoming this new character?

Maddi is very different from me in that she has put her sexiness out on front street. She’s very comfortable being boldly flirtatious and playful. She’s very sure of herself is always having a good time which was so much fun to embody. I’ve been calling on myself to be as bold as can be so rather than being a challenge, Maddi was a joy to play. She gave me the gift of having fun and not being so serious all the time.

The show intertwines complex topics such as family, business, and power, what message about these topics can viewers expect to get from the Kings of Napa?

I really love how The Kings of Napa explores those juicy topics. The writers don’t shy away from drama and scandal even when it erupts within the family. Viewers will recognize the family dynamics of jealousy and power struggles that most of us have faced. The King family takes it to a vineyard-owing, super-wealthy, and glamourous level but they resonate with us and we root for certain characters to prevail. I can’t give away any secrets, but we all know how greedy and power-hungry people can get and how sometimes loving your family isn’t easy!

What are some major differences you can pinpoint between The Kings of Napa and other projects you have worked on before?

I have so much love for every project I’ve ever been privileged enough to work on but there is something really special about The Kings of Napa. Having Oprah as my Executive Producer was the manifestation of a childhood dream and in addition to that is the beautiful world of black characters that Janine Sherman Barrois created. The representation is expansive, nuanced, and inspiring. It is the stuff of our ancestors’ dreams.

Samora Smallwood

Photo: Robert Obumselu

What detail about the show caught your eye initially and made you want to be a part of it?

Diversity and inclusion are major passions of mine so when I saw these characters, I just knew I had to be a part of it. Because some people don’t always read my mixed-race appearance as black, I had a fleeting moment of worry that I might not be what they were looking for but I did the audition and immediately had a feeling that I hadn’t seen the last of Maddie. And of course, fashion also caught my eye. The cast is so beautifully dressed by both emerging superstar design houses like Pyer Moss and couture classics such as Balenciaga. Oprah said the fashion alone is a reason to tune in!

How has your athletic training (combat, fighting, and archery) helped you not only become a better actress but also more confident in your everyday life?

I’ve always been athletic but that kind of training has definitely made me a more versatile actress because it allows me to do my own stunts whenever possible. It also enhances my ability to focus and understand my body as an instrument. Feeling strong is a huge confidence builder – I like to take long, solitary walks around downtown or meditate with my earbuds in at the park and let me tell you, knowing how to take an attacker down with a single kick is a comforting thought.

In what ways did winning the “Best Actress” Theatre Windsor Award upped your motivation to keep doing what you are doing?

I won that award in a category of beloved, experienced actresses and I never thought I had any chance at all. Winning was such a sign of acceptance by my peers that it fuelled my trajectory for a long time and helped give me the confidence in my talent to leave my family and follow my dreams in faraway New York City. An occupational hazard of the acting business is the intense competition for scarce roles and even scarcer accolades so positive feedback from peers is what keeps us going.

Don’t miss out on any episodes from The Kings Of Napa and catch Samora Smallwood As Maddi Brewer in it.


Published by HOLR Magazine