Starz’s ‘Run the World’ is a comedy-drama series that revolves around four best friends – Whitney, Ella, Renee, and Sondi – and their lives in Harlem, New York. Together they go through life’s ups and downs while juggling careers and romances and trying to mark their names in the world. Created by Leigh Davenport, the series features Bresha Webb, Andrea Bordeaux, Amber Stevens West, and Corbin Reid in the lead roles. An empowering show about women and their bonds with each other, ‘Run the World’ is the perfect, easy-going show for anybody looking to enjoy a fresh storyline that sets it apart from its peers. But is there any truth to the vibrant lives of these four friends? Let’s find out!
Is Run the World a True Story?
No, ‘Run the World’ is not based on a true story. However, creator Leigh Davenport based and wrote the story on her own experiences living in Harlem. She lived in the predominantly black neighborhood, surrounded by its culture and traditions, for nearly 12 years. Many of the show’s characters, especially the four lead women, have been inspired by Davenport’s friends and other people she interacted with while in Harlem.
“There’s a sense of community, a sense of responsibility that you belong to this community, and you want to be an active part of this place where you’re walking in the streets of legacy, of so many amazing Black people who contributed so much so that you could be there—so that you could walk down Malcolm X. Boulevard every day and feel that energy. It pushes you forward,” the creator told W Magazine.
Davenport felt that Harlem itself is pretty underrepresented in media, as well as positive and fun stories about black women. “There were a lot of Black women fighting and throwing off each other’s wigs, doing things that didn’t reflect the sisterhood I had experienced at my time at Spelman College and in my time when we were living in New York,” she continued. “I felt there were a lot of negative messages being angled toward Black women and messages that countered being ambitious and made us feel bad about wanting more. I didn’t feel that way.”
While ‘Run the World’ does give off ‘Sex and the City’ vibes, with the four friends going on brunches together and simply enjoying all that life has to offer, the series is interspersed by impactful conversations and confrontations about impactful topics. This includes racism, unemployment, and other more mundane facets of everyday life. One of the topics that the show handles very nuancedly is the divide between different generations and how each generation’s perceptions can be conducive to one another.
“They [the showrunners] had a really wonderful intention to create a conversation between women about healthy relationships and what it means to have ambition and go for your career dreams — and also what it means when you don’t meet them,” said Erika Alexander, who portrays the character of Barb, in a conversation with Next TV. Given the storyline’s uniqueness, depicting the characters on screen and doing justice to their voices would be challenging for any actor. In an interview with Complex, Amber Stevens West spoke about these challenges and her experience playing Whitney’s character in the show.
“There was the challenge of me doing something that was different, which was what excited me about taking the project. Everything I [had] done before has been really lighthearted and really fun. This was going to have a level of depth to it that I hadn’t really explored in a lot of my roles that I’ve played before, so that made me a little anxious,” she stated. “I knew telling a story like this and highlighting the Black female experience in Harlem and stuff was going to be important and cool, but I didn’t realize how much it meant to me personally until I was really involved in it.”
‘Run the World,’ though fictional, stays grounded in reality with its focus on dynamic female friendships, life for people of color in the Big Apple, and what’s it like to be a black woman in the present world. And, of course, the beautiful portrayal of Harlem’s culture and its influence on the people growing up and living there (like creator Leigh Davenport) will undoubtedly make you fall in love with both the neighborhood and its residents.
Read More: Where is Run the World Filmed?