You know what’s better than one bad ass Black woman giving Millennial problems them magical hands? Three best friends who all got the gift and love and support each other along the way. Last year, I absolutely fell in love with the pitch for the new show Juju: The Web Series, and it turns out I still can’t get enough (because who honestly can get enough Black witches and wizards flooding their media and social media timelines? I’m certainly not one). Then that brand new trailer dropped and I couldn’t wait to bring that Black brujería back to the conversation. Luckily, Black Nerd Problems had the opportunity to sit down with Cydni Jenkins (Ally), Nedge Victome (Gigi), and Cassandra Borgella (Yaya) aka the baddest witches themselves to talk the exclusive behind-the-scenes scoops for Juju: The Web Series, self-care rituals, and of course which legendary spell caster to call when you’re backed into a corner.
Unfortunately, while Black Girl Magic is a resource with infinite potential, we still haven’t quite figured out how to break away from society and just exchange vibes as currency. As of writing this article, the Kickstarter will close on May 31st and has just 10% of the goal left to fully fund the first season, so I highly encourage you to donate and share to get this project off the ground and into the digital air where it belongs.
BNP: First, tell us a little bit about yourself. What’s the Cliffsnotes version of the journey that brought you to Juju?
Cydni Jenkins: I was born and raised in the Bronx, NY. Entertainment has always been a passion of mine. I was in the music business for almost a decade before I resigned to pursue my career in acting. I met Moon through another project we were working on, and she told me about Juju: The Web Series. I was so intrigued by the idea I auditioned and got the part! It’s been nothing but love since then!
Nedge Victome: I was born in Haiti and raised in Brooklyn, NY. Named after a political French poem by Haitian Poet and Diplomat Roussan Camille, I like to think that I was destined to follow a career in the arts where the human experience is at the forefront. As an actress, I am interested in telling stories that are not only relatable to my audience but that are nuanced and sometimes may deviate from the normal narratives. Juju: The Web Series represented this to me.
Cassandra Borgella: I was a loud kid with very few people to talk to – except the television. I was always trying to become the characters I saw on screen. And today, that hasn’t changed. Moon has created characters I can’t get enough of!
BNP: What has made working on this project different than projects you’ve worked on in the past?
CJ: There’s SO much natural chemistry between everyone from the castmates to the crew. The vibe on set is very organic! You would’ve thought me, Nedge, and Cassandra have been friends for years!
NV: This is actually the first project that I’ve worked on so far in my career. However, I will say that this project is different from many scripts I’ve read or projects I’ve submitted for because of the sci-fi element. I haven’t really seen too many projects of color undertake this genre.
CB: A lot of my past work was theatre-based, so it’s great to finally work in film! On top of the fact that I get to work with special effects.
BNP: What’s an aspect or trait of your character that really helps you connect to her?
CJ: Ally doesn’t think she is where she’s supposed to be career-wise turning 28. And that’s literally my exact sentiments. Lololol
NV: Gigi is someone I look up to. She’s confident and grounded in her identity and place in this world. She’s also feisty and takes no disrespect directed towards her or others, and she is passionate about what she believes ought to be and what ought not to be. Women like this are innovators, spear-headers, and propel movements forward.
CB: Yaya is extremely loyal and caring, sometimes to a fault. I’ve found myself in the past putting everyone else’s needs before my own. Today, I’ve learned to find a balance, but you still cannot mess with my friends!
BNP: What do you think is important about the portrayal of Black women friendship in Juju?
CJ: We are showcasing different layers of Black women with each character, from sassiness to compassionate, and I think it’s important to show the whole spectrum.
NV: I think any positive portrayal of Black women presently is important, especially in the theme of friendship to eclipse the current, overwhelming images of cattiness and disunity. In the web series, Yaya, Gigi, and Ally are so very different in interests, style, ideas, values, etc, you almost wonder, “Well damn, how are they still friends?” But that’s what I love about it— our relationship transcends friendship into sisterhood, because our uniqueness is the foundation of our bond. It’s important to see non-homogenous friendships survive and thrive, because it helps to demonstrate that our friends do not have to think and act just like us for us to love them.
CB: I think Juju does a beautiful job of showing multifaceted women of color. There’s so much life poured into them.
BNP: You find yourself locked in a magical duel to the death with one lifeline. Which magic-user do you summon to have your back and why?
CJ: My good friend in the series, Gigi! I think she’ll evolve into a bad bitch witch!
NV: I would definitely summon my boo Lafayette Reynolds from True Blood played by the late Nelsan Ellis. Lafayette is my best friend in my head. He’s funny and compassionate but also, I really just want to hear him hurl hilarious insults at our enemies in that sweet Southern drawl.
CB: Best believe I will call Bonnie Bennett from the Vampire Diaries! Even dying several times couldn’t stop her!
BNP: If you could learn a magical spell for adulting, what would it be and how would you cast it?
CJ: Girl, I’d abracadabra my bills away! “January, February, March, May, let this rent go away.” Poof!
NV: The spell where I will curb my compulsion of eating out and instead cook more so I can manage my finances better— yeah, I need that one!
CB: Teleportation. The MTA can be so cruel…
BNP: What’s your favorite practice for keeping your own personal Black Girl Magic popping?
CJ: I drink lots of water and make sure my hair and curls are always popping! I wear my curls like a crown!
NV: Meditation and prayer. I like to remind myself of how far God has brought me and have hope for just how far I will go.
CB: Water!!! Spongebob may not need it, but I sure do! Plus fruits and veggies. I can tell when my body is lacking nutrient-filled foods, so I try to keep my fridge packed with oranges at the minimum.
BNP: Who do you hope that this series will reach?
CJ: I would love this series to reach all, but specifically Black women, so that we can connect and relate to something through so many layers, from witchcraft to Millennial problems to our BIG DRIP!!!!
NV: I hope this project reaches across the board: gender, age, race—there is a little something to teach each and every group just what it should mean to be navigating life together.
CB: I definitely want this to reach the masses, but specifically young girls. Children are literal sponges and if they don’t see what they can become, they won’t know how bright their future is.