(CBS Local)– “The Chi” is back on Showtime for season four and Yolonda Ross’s character Jada goes on her most emotional journey yet. This season, Jada reveals that she is battling breast cancer and the news impacts the lives of her son Emmett, her ex Darnell and her friend Dre. In addition to this storyline, season four also addresses the topics of police brutality, defunding the police and the challenges of young and old love.
CBS Local’s DJ Sixsmith recently chatted with Ross to discuss season four of Showtime’s hit series, what it was like to meet real cancer patients in Chicago and the beauty of this show.
“It was really good for me because it really felt like the first year where I got to go in deep with something,” said Ross. “With Jada and the cancer, I’ve lost family members to cancer and friends to cancer. You know about it and what people go through, but you don’t really know all the details. A lot of the time we don’t engage or talk about it. We don’t want to upset the person going through it or make them feel bad.”
“A lot of times we just tiptoe around it. In this case, since my character was going through it, I really did research a lot,” said Ross. “I started dealing with Equal Hope in Chicago, which is an organization that deals with healthcare disparities, Center for Equity Health Transformation and Women on top of their Game in the South Side of Chicago. Just talking to women and being around them was a lot and I learned a lot. I’m also helping in any which way I personally can.”
Ross admits that the emotional journey of Jada on screen impacted both her and the crew members working on the show. That’s something she wasn’t expecting and she credits the writers for allowing these scenes to really resonate with people. Ross thought it was also really interesting how the show handled telling the stories of her family members and friends when they heard the news of Jada’s cancer diagnosis.
“A lot of those scenes with her son Emmett or friends like Dre, who is keeping it from her wife, it was beautiful to see,” said Ross. “I’m not a part of their scenes when I’m shooting them, so I’m watching them on TV just like everyone else. Those scenes really did affect me in seeing how they were holding up and dealing with it. Seeing Darnell and Emmett together is something you don’t really see. These people who have a hard time showing emotions couldn’t help it when a loved one is dealing with something.”
In addition to Jada’s storyline, another powerful part of the season is how “The Chi” addresses police brutality and defunding the police. Kevin and Jake are directly impacted by a traumatic experience with the cops at the beginning of the season and that leads the city to defund the police and look into other ways of how to move around money to protect folks.
“We’ve been dealing with this for decades. This country is built on that kind of bullying,” said Ross. “We needed to show it because we are one of those shows that takes it as a responsibility to show what we are actually going through in real life. We show Douda as mayor to take it upon himself to say no we are going to pull your funding. We’re going to do this and we’re going to handle these things. Why not show a different side to it and see how it goes.”
Stream “The Chi” right now on the Showtime app.