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Is Nicole Beharie TV's Next Kerry Washington?

Nicole Beharie stars in Sleepy Hollow with Tom Mison. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)
Nicole Beharie stars in Sleepy Hollow with Tom Mison. (Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)

To those who never found the Scandal bandwagon appealing, who think Kerry Washington's performance as Olivia Pope has always been a tad over the top, yet who feel it's important to support shows with a person of color in the lead: The people at Fox would like you to meet Nicole Beharie.


The Juilliard-trained actress co-stars in Sleepy Hollow, a sci-fi action series that airs Mondays at 9 p.m. EDT on Fox. She may be familiar to those who saw her breakout performance in the 2008 indepdent drama American Violet opposite Alfre Woodard. She's better-known for her turn alongside Michael Fassbender as a woman in love with a sex addict in Steve McQueen's 2011 film Shame. Most recently she played Rachel Robinson, wife of Jackie Robinson (Chadwick Boseman), in the biopic 42

But as Sleepy Hollow gains more of a following in the ratings, Beharie tells the New York Post, she's finding herself having to adjust to playing a character she never saw for herself: an action hero.

"There's a kind of look that happens when you're doing action, horror and sci-fi. I would have to be a really leggy, lean, buxom blond to be doing that, you know?" she says, laughing. "I was, like, wow — I never really imagined that for myself, so I'm stoked!"


In Sleepy Hollow, Beharie plays a heroine more out of the mold of Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) from The X-Files than Olivia Pope in Scandal, assisted by her co-star, Tom Mison, who plays the story's main character, Ichabod Crane. The series is a modern-day retelling of The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. So imagine Beharie's surprise when the show's writers found a way to acknowledge the issue of race in one of the scenes from the pilot.

But she does commend the "Sleepy Hollow" writers for touching on — if somewhat humorously — the subject of slavery. When Crane first sees Beharie's Lt. Mills in the series pilot, he's surprised that she has been, as he says, "emancipated." When she suggests Crane keep his thoughts in check, he replies, "If you're insinuating I endorse slavery, I'm offended." A stunned but steady Mills counters, "Wait, back up — you're offended?"

"I think kudos for throwing that kind of thing in there," Beharie says.

Thus far, Sleepy Hollow has been a quiet hit in the new season of television. Its DVR ratings have climbed, according to Entertainment Weekly, and the show was renewed for a second season.

Read more at the New York Post.

Jozen Cummings is the author and creator of the popular relationship blog Until I Get Married, which is currently in development for a television series with Warner Bros. He also hosts a weekly podcast with WNYC about Empire called Empire Afterparty, is a contributor at VerySmartBrothas.com and works at Twitter as an editorial curator. Follow him on Twitter.


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