“TSLOCG”‘s Alyah Chanelle Scott on Critiques of Whitney’s Non-Black Love Interests: “That’s So Fair”
In our Q&A series Last Call, we get down to the bottom of every last thing with some of our favorite celebs – from the last time they were starstruck to the last song they listened to. This week, Alyah Chanelle Scott takes our call.
Alyah Chanelle Scott is finding her rhythm as Whitney in “The Sex Lives of College Girls” season two. The hit HBO Max dramedy returned for another hilarious season on Nov. 17, taking a deeper dive into the complex lives of its core four Essex College roommates – which include Kimberly (Pauline Chalamet), Bela (Amrit Kaur), and Leighton (Reneé Rapp) – and Scott is excited about further exploring her compelling role.
“At the end of the first season, there was something I was really curious about because I felt like, ‘Oh, we’ve really only seen her in that soccer world and in the coach’s world. I wonder who she is beyond that.'”
Viewers were introduced to soccer star Whitney and her messy dating woes (i.e. sleeping with her coach) in season one, but Scott is happy to see her character’s storylines expand in other ways this season. “At the end of the first season, there was something I was really curious about because I felt like, ‘Oh, we’ve really only seen her in that soccer world and in the coach’s world. I wonder who she is beyond that,'” the actor tells POPSUGAR. “I remember trying to sit down and do character work – as an actor you’re like, ‘OK, so who am I? What do I study at college?’ I was trying to answer these questions and I really couldn’t even answer them. I don’t even think [Whitney] knows. So I said that to Mindy and Justin and I was like, ‘I would love to see her figure that out.'”
Scott notes that Whitney’s role in “The Sex Lives of College Girls” has grown to be the “voice of reason” of her friend group. And while the series has been praised for its celebration of female friendships, it’s also prioritized addressing issues that arise at predominantly white institutions.
As a graduate of the University of Michigan, Scott has similarly experienced what we see Whitney endure at her PWI – from microaggressions from teacher aids to being one of a few Black people in her classes. It’s one of the reasons the 25-year-old actor wants viewers to give her character more grace with the choices she makes, namely her love life. After Whitney’s breakup with Canaan in episode four, some “The Sex Lives of College Girls” fans had choice words about losing the only Black couple on the show, as well as Whitney’s pursuit of another non-Black love interest.
In response to the teased romance between Whitney and her frenemy/lab partner Andrew (played by Charlie Hall), Huffington Post culture reporter Ruth Etiesit Samuel tweeted, “Begging Mindy & Shonda Rhimes to stop inserting the “WOC fawning over/sought after by an average-looking white man” trope into their storylines. It’s lazy & annoying. Whitney’s been through enough, and I will be flipping a table if this happens. I’m tired of seeing it.” Another Twitter user wrote, “I’m so tired of the awkward brown girl pines for the nerdy white boy like it’s genuinely exhausting to watch can we pls change it up.”
Scott acknowledges that critiques of Whitney’s options are both harsh and valid for reasons that stem beyond “The Sex Lives of College Girls.” “I think the criticism isn’t necessarily on the show alone. I think it’s on the industry,” she explains. “I think the pressure is on all media and the way we see our relationships portrayed across all streaming platforms, across all shows. We want to see representation of Black love that is healthy, normal, and that isn’t traumatic or trauma porn. I agree with that. I think that’s so fair and a valid want for the community.”
“I think at this point she does want to work on herself and be by herself.”
On the flip side, Scott notes that Whitney’s journey portrays what some Black women naturally go through in their dating lives when attending PWIs, and her HBO Max show should be able to stand alone in that right. “She is naturally going to be around a lot of white people, as are all the characters,” Scott adds. “I, too, love Canaan and want [him and Whitney] to be endgame. Whitney’s just learning, she’s growing, and she’s trying her best. I think at this point she does want to work on herself and be by herself. You’ll see what happens to her, though.”
Scott has high hopes for Whitney moving forward, and if/when “The Sex Lives of College Girls” gets renewed for another season, she anticipates that “homegirl catches a break.” “I just want her in a healthy space and not going through it at all times,” Scott shares. “I also hope that there’s a musical episode. I know it’s probably not likely, I just feel like it’s necessary. But I want to see the girls sing. I want to see everyone do a little song and dance. Maybe that’s the musical theater major in me, but I’m hopeful.”
Read ahead to check out the rest of Scott’s Last Call interview and stay tuned for the rest of Whitney’s journey in “The Sex Lives of College Girls” season two, now streaming on HBO Max.
What was the last day of filming “The Sex Lives of College Girls” season two like?
I just remember it being so bittersweet. Me and Reneé, I think we baked like 100-something cupcakes the night before because we were like, it came so quickly. We were panicked and we were like, “Oh my God. We haven’t done anything!” And so we stayed up and made a bunch of little cupcakes. Some had Pride flags on them and others said “Slay.” It was really cute and sweet and I just remember going to work and truly crying. I was like, “I’m going to miss this.”
What is the last thing you did with one of your costars?
I see Reneé every day so probably . . . we got drunk, we did karaoke. We [also] had Thanksgiving together.
Who’s the last costar you texted?
Renee. Today. She’s on James Corden’s show and she’s doing her little song today.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
Drew Barrymore. We were on “The Drew Barrymore Show” – that one was pretty crazy. Meeting [her] was wild. She’s the best. She’s so cool, so sweet, and I hugged her. I could not contain my excitement on my face. I was freaking out.
Aside from your own show, what was the last series you binge-watched?
“Love is Blind,” “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.” I watch a lot of reality TV for the most part.
What was the last album you listened to?
I’m always listening to Renee’s music, of course. Her EP [“Everything to Everyone”] is probably the last thing I listened to. Or, Lauryn Hill’s “MTV: Unplugged” album. I really love that album.
What was the last thing you did for self-care?
Probably binge-watched “Severance,” to be honest. I got this cold and I was like, “Oo, this is the perfect excuse to stay in my house.” That’s what I do all the time but now I don’t have to have an excuse besides I have a cold and I can just binge-watch TV.
What is the last thing you ordered online?
I don’t really shop much. That’s not a habit I have, which is good. But probably a ticket to my friend’s show.
What was the last trip you went on?
I just went to New York to do press. I forced the entire group I was with to see “Wicked the Musical” because that’s my show of choice every time I go to New York. I’ll either see it by myself or force a friend to come with me. We had just been at our 12-hour press day and I was like, “OK. Renee, your team, two of my friends from high school.” It was very, very sweet.
What was the last piece of advice you received that changed your life?
I was told [this] at one point by a friend of mine named Gavin Creel when I graduated college and I say it to everyone I’ve ever met. He said, “What is for you will not miss you.” And that’s something that I love so much. It’s on a sticky note above my desk right now.