Spoilers ahead for Good Trouble Season 2. After two seasons of Freeform's Good Trouble, Zuri Adele tells Bustle that she has learned a lot from her character's journey about how activism is a daily pursuit, and not just some one-off action or social media post. In The Fosters spinoff, Adele's Good Trouble character Malika Williams is in the Black Lives Matter movement, co-founded by Patrisse Cullors, who also happens to be an advisor, writer, and guest star on Season 2.
Playing Malika has taught Adele some important lessons about the emotional toll activism can take on a person. Malika subverts many onscreen tropes about what activism entails; throughout the series, the character has strived to balance her passions and relationships with friends and family as she navigates school, her bartending job, family issues, and her activist work.
Adele says she differs from Malika in the way that she fights for her causes. Malika is on the front lines protesting, reaching out to the families of victims of police brutality, and planning organized disruptions; Adele's contribution to activism is more behind the scenes such as raising money and working towards creating accessibility for people of color, she says. But both roles are necessary when it comes to enacting change, as Good Trouble so aptly points out.
"I think what I got to learn even more about is the less glamorous work that Black Lives Matter does," Adele says. "The work like speaking with families, always being on call for families who call in who are grieving about their loved ones who’d been murdered." In between that sort of gut wrenching emotional labor, stuffing envelopes for hours, making phone calls to people, and getting coffee for meetings, she says, are all part of the cause.
In the latest season of the show, we see Malika's dedication to the movement start to seep more into her work life and personal relationships. As a result, her boyfriend suggests that she take a step back from the movement, which is a conundrum women face all the time when their work starts to take center stage in their lives. Often, they are forced to make a choice — or at least reassess what she can realistically take on. One woman can't save the world, which is a lesson Malia still seems to be learning.
"I just hope that everyone sees themselves in Malika. That they are inspired to have difficult conversations...That they remember to experience joy while they also may be experiencing trauma or sadness but that all of those things can exist at once."
"If she [Malika] continues to do that she may be very depleted and that can impact her giving her best self to the movement. So the movement actually needs her to be taking care and needs her to be in healthy relationships where she's got a clear head when she does show up to do this work," Adele says.
It helps that Adele had Cullors on set to model her character after, she says. Adele adds that she was inspired by delving into all of the aspects and "dimensions" of Cullor's life as an activist, an artist, and a family woman. It helped her to get a "deeper understanding of how Malika balances it all," she adds.
"She’s such an incredible example for me as a Black woman in America," Adele says of working with Cullors.
Adele adds that she hopes fans are also inspired after watching her and Cullors on screen to take action and to follow their passions, whatever they are.
Adele continues, "I just hope that everyone sees themselves in Malika. That they are inspired to have difficult conversations. That they’re inspired to have conversations with their families to build their own chosen families, to perhaps reconcile with family members the way that Malika has tried to. That they remember to experience joy while they also may be experiencing trauma or sadness but that all of those things can exist at once."
It's a tough, but very possible lesson to learn. With the end of Season 2 upon us, fans will have to wait to see how Malike continues to keep growing.