Essence Atkins (Photo credit: N. Ali Early via Zoom)

Essence Atkins is a walking, talking, acting inspiration, having starred in television shows and movies that include “Smart Guy,” “Half & Half,” “Marlon,” “Are We There Yet?” Ambitions and Haunted House, among a slew of others. She stopped by to do it digital with us recently where we discussed her most recent project, Coins Forever, which will undoubtedly carry us through the holidays.

For those who are familiar with the Coins franchise, tell us what it’s all about.
Well, we started with Coins for Christmas. It’s the story of a single mom played by myself, Madison, who, right before the holidays, loses her job that she loves. She works in a bookstore and she’s let go just because bookstores aren’t as vibrant of a business any longer. … She’s got two kids [and] she ends up doing a job for a guy who’s newly retired from the NFL … [He’s] played by Stephen Bishop — a character named Alec Darby.

At first, the relationship between them is very prickly. They don’t really get along, but she needs money. He needs her because she’s very good at organizing his life. And they end up really developing a friendship and a mutual respect for one another. They help each other grow. The next movie … Madison ends up trying to reconcile with her ex-husband and Alec Darby tries to reconcile his former fiancée. So it looks like love has kind of moved them onwards to others, even though there’s an attraction there. This third movie, [is] about whether or not they’re actually going to be together forever.

Lots of good stuff in there. What drew you to the franchise initially and how does it feel to be a part of wrapping it up?
Well, it’s really funny because it wasn’t ever intended to be a franchise. Initially, we were just doing Coins for Christmas and it was such a success for the network. Cathy Hughes, who owns TV One, fell in love with the characters. I think she just wanted to see more. So they wrote two more movies. So I’m so grateful that it resonated with audiences, that they love the story that we told and that they wanted to come along with us for a second, now our third and final installment. The trilogy is really a byproduct of audiences falling in love with these characters and showing up to watch.

Let’s talk about that third and last and final installment and your role as its lead actress,
Well, Madison [is] no longer doing what she needs to do. She actually has her dream job, but she’s in a probationary period. So [she] is trying to find the balance of her work life and her aspirations and ambitions, and also her personal life and they sometimes conflict with one another. We [also] find … that she and Alec are friends.

And they don’t want to jeopardize that. So it’s now a matter of do we want to cross the line, is it worth it? Or do we want to stay friends because we value each other and we value the friendship so much?

Catch the third and final installment of the Coins franchise on Nov. 14 at 7 pm EST on TV One.


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