The Other Black Girl (2023) s01e06 Episode Script

Fake Smile

NELLA: Previously, on
The Other Black Girl
OWEN: You shouldn't even be at
work at all. You're bein' followed.
NELLA: Jesse Watson canceled Wagner?
If you were thinking of other people,
you wouldn't have buried
the sensitivity read.
Vera? I need to ask you to
collect your things and go.
Nella, you will be running point
on this as assistant editor.
MALAIKA: I really don't
get good vibes from her.
Her name isn't Hazel. It's Eva.
HAZEL: I genuinely feel sorry for anyone
- who was unfortunate enough
- Hey!
HAZEL: to be in our way.
- Where have you been?
- We've been worried sick.
Y-You went to see that
stalker woman, didn't you?
And I bet you, you didn't
even bring pepper spray.
Your white boyfriend and I
taught you better than that.
She didn't even show up.
I just sat there
listening to a very sad man
sing Lady In Red for, like, 45 minutes.
- Wait, what?
- It was a karaoke bar.
- The address.
- Well, we have got to stop trusting strangers
who accost us on the street.
But what if she's right
and Hazel/Eva is bad news,
like I've been sayin'?
I mean, the reality is
that I don't know any more
about either of these women,
and I was sitting there in a karaoke bar
listening to some dentist
belt his fucking heart out,
and I was just thinking,
"What am I doing?"
Ya know? This is not my life.
This is between her and Hazel, not me.
Okay, but, like, you don't
trust Hazel either, right?
I don't know. But
she's still my coworker.
And I have, like,
responsibility at work now,
so I need to be stressed out
about that, and not about her.
We all know full well my
baby is more than capable
of stressin' 'bout multiple
things at the same time.
Well, I can't just roll
up to Wagner acting weird.
Do you want me to roll
up to Wagner acting weird?
Because I'll do it.
No. I just need to focus
on work.

MAISY: White. White. Ooh!
Everything in here white?
Like, just white. Whitewash this.
You could just break that. Oh!
Here's my new favorite color.
Take what you want, leave the rest.
Sorry to bother you, I
just have a couple of ideas
that I would love to run past you.
[CHUCKLES] First day
as assistant editor,
you're already rarin' to go,
I love it. What have you got?
Okay, so, I have a couple of new clients
that I thought that maybe we could sign.
- Mm-hm.
- There's Terry O'Shay.
I've been following
her for a few months,
she's an up-and-coming horror writer.
We also have Davide Rice.
He kind of does this, like,
sci-fi, political
commentary mashup thing.
It's really specific, but
also super contemporary.
What about Jesse Watson?
I'm sorry?
You're a big fan, aren't you?
So, go get him.
- Um
with all due respect,
I don't think that's gonna happen.
I mean, we maybe could've tried before,
but Jesse has been all over the news
canceling Wagner, so.
We need someone to
call us on our bullshit.
The way you always have.
[CLINKS DECANTER] The board has prepared
to put all of Wagner's resources
behind Diana's imprint.
Jesse can basically write his own check.
Could I do something else?
Anything else?
I really don't think
Jesse can be bought.
Do you believe in what
we're doing here, Nella?
What do you mean?
The imprint.
Do you believe in the imprint?
Do you believe in Wagner Books?
I've given everything to this job.
It's not really a yes, though, is it?
It's a yes, of course.
I know you do.
That's why I know that
you can convince him.
You have got to be this
imprint's biggest champion, Nella.
If you believe that we can
really make a difference,
it can't be that hard to make
Jesse believe, too, right?
You're right.
DIANA: These don't really align
with what I was envisioning.
Yeah, no. I-I think you're
thinkin' too literal.
Um, do you have something, I don't
know, more, like, impressionistic?
- Like, it should convey a feeling
as opposed to telling the actual story.
- KYRA: I maybe have one.
- Yes.
Yeah, no, this, this is It's not
- It's too on the nose, it's too
Like this?
- Ah, yes.
See, now this really illustrates
Evie's, like, inner turmoil.
Mm. I couldn't have
said it better myself.
- Yeah?
- DIANA: Nella.
Sorry, do you mind just
going over that one more time?
So sorry, I really have to
get to another appointment.
- Oh.
- Uh, well, that's okay.
Hazel and I can make the decision
since Nella's head is elsewhere.
- Kyra, I'll walk you out.
- [WHISPERS] Thank you.
- HAZEL: Mm.
What was that?
Nothing, I'm j I'm just
I'm a little overwhelmed today,
- um, this whole
- Hey. Okay. Hey, hey, hey, hey, hey.
Look at me, look at me.
You deserve this, okay?
You've worked too damn hard.
I mean, what were all
those 7 P.M. Red Bulls for?
- Yeah?
- Mm-hm.
- Are you sure you're okay?
- Totally.
Okay. Oh, Nella.
That's a jar of mayonnaise.
Right. [LAUGHS]
[QUIETLY] Mayonnaise. Great.
We'll see you tomorrow,
Arthur, all right?
And buddy, hey, no
more lizards, all right?
Miss McCormick's heart can't take it.
Hey, Hazel.
What, what are you doin' here?
- How did you even remember where I work?
Your memory must be crazy.
I mean, it is, but it's mostly good
- for just rememberin' Hot Girl Meg lyrics.
Um, I actually came by
to ask for your help.
Oh Um, sure. What W-What's up?
So, I have this charity
that tutors kids.
It's called Young, Black, and Lit.
Um, we do book fairs, and poetry
readings, and field
trips around the city,
and we also partner with schools
- Mm.
- so I thought
Coppin Middle might
wanna be a part of that.
Yeah, absolutely, that
sounds, that sounds great.
But, um, and don't
take this the wrong way,
but couldn't you have just emailed me?
[LAUGHS] Um, you know what?
There actually was somethin' else.
- Hm?
- [INHALES] About Nella.
Have you noticed her
acting weird lately?
I mean, she's super busy.
She just seemed a bit, like, off
to me, just, like, distracted.
Yeah Well, work's
really been weighin' on her.
She usually, like, sings, [SLIGH
CHUCKLE] a lot in the house.
She hasn't done that in a while.
Maybe you should check on her.
You know, make sure she's feeling okay
'cause I would really hate
for this job to swallow her up.
Thanks for the heads up.
Yeah, no, of course,
yeah. She's our girl.
- See ya around, Owen.
JERROD: Is that your girlfriend?
Go home, Jerrod.
How was your day?
Good, but weird.
That kid sneak his
lizard into class again?
- Same kid, different lizard.
- Yes.
But also,
Hazel stopped by.
What, like, the school?
Yeah, she's apparently got this
charity, Young, Black, and Lit,
she wants the school to do it.
But also,
she wanted to know if I'd noticed
you actin' different lately.
I think she was just tryna make sure
you're feelin' okay about work.
So, you discussed my mental
health with my coworker
who just randomly showed up at your job?
That's a very specific
and negative way to put it.
Well, how would you put it?
Two people talked about how
worried they are about you.
Oh, you're worried?
I'm fine. Work is fine.
I'm not worried, exactly, just
Uh, why aren't you singin' anymore?
- What?
Got it.
Hi. Package for Nella Rogers.
- Yeah, that's me.
- Okay.
Uh, who's this from?
- No sender.
- Right, but who gave it to you?
My boss.
- NELLA: Oh, my God!
- What?!
This is an original fucking
manuscript of Burning Heart.
There's notes in here
from Kendra Rae and Diana.
- Where'd it come from?
- Uh, I mean,
I guess Diana gave it to me.
She must really like you.
I thought she wanted to
drown me in the Hudson today,
but I guess she just
is tryna push me harder.
- Well,
work definitely seems fine.

KENDRA RAE: Don't be afraid
of Evie's anger in this moment.
hear you. Will revisit.
Great changes here, D.
DIANA: A bit worried about the ending.
[ECHOING] Does it feel satisfying?
Does it feel satisfying?
perfect. It's perfect. It's perfect.
Do you think she knows yet?
Do you think she knows yet?
Nella. Nella. Nella.
- Nella!
MALAIKA: Hazel showin' up
at your school is not normal.
- So, what are you even showin' me?
- That Hazel's a liar.
OWEN: I don't see Hazel anywhere.
Control F for "Eva."
- What're you teachin' those children?
Not how to spy.
I don't see anything about Hazel or Eva.
- W-W-What does this prove?
- That's a huge red flag.
D She said that this
was her organization.
Shouldn't she be front and center?
Well, she never said she founded it.
Oh, maybe she doesn't
wanna take the credit
You're not listening to me.
Her Instagram only goes back one year.
Another red flag. I hope
you keepin' track. [CHUCKLES]
Maybe she's one of those
minimalist profile people.
Why do you keep tryna
explain everything?
That is how my brain works.
All right, look, look, look.
She keeps taggin' this
guy. That must be her man.
I'm gonna go to his barber shop.
- Don't bother this poor guy.
- I'm not botherin' him,
we are.
- Should I call you Vera now?
Perfect temporary office
for the imprint, right?
Until it's your office, of course.
Diana, your support means so much to me
and to trust me with a gift like this
The original Burning Heart manuscript.
I mean, I literally couldn't
put it down, seriously.
Look at the bags under my eyes.
Oh, yes. I thought it might
bring you some inspiration.
It was, like, being right
there with you and Kendra Rae.
And I was thinking this might
be the key to the rerelease.
The published ending is great, right?
Evie venturing away from
her strict upbringing,
and finding love with a Black
Panther, living happily ever after.
But the original ending
in the manuscript,
it's so tragic,
and it's so much more dynamic.
Evie being murdered
by her abusive lover.
That's terrifying, and complex,
and it speaks in a nuanced way
to the misogyny within
the Black Panther party.
Real Native Son vibes.
I think that we should include the
original ending in the rerelease.
It'll add a whole new layer
that'll pull in a new audience,
and it'll surprise your loyal readers.
I need to think about it.
I know, and it's scary,
- but I really think, Diana, that
- Nella, I hear you,
but this is my baby,
and I just need a little time.
I get it, of course.
Take all the time you need.
You're very good at your job.
I really do need to get back to work.
Of course.
- Back home.
- No way, brother.
Should we have made a reservation?
That's not how this works.
There he is. Manny! My man!
- What's up, what's up, what's up?
I know you?
No, just recognized
you from the website.
We here for a haircut.
Okay, look, I'll sit you
with my boy, Reggie. He
- No, no, no, no.
- No, we only want you, Manny.
Okay, well, it's gonna be a minute.
- Oh, well, we'll come back.
- [MUMBLES] No, we can wait. [CHUCKLES]
As long as it takes.
Can I just say that this is the
honor of a lifetime, Mr. Watson?
You can say whatever you want.
So, anyway, like I was saying,
we are currently working on
a rerelease of Burning Heart.
- A classic.
- Mm-hm.
As a part of Diana's new
imprint for diverse voices.
And Wagner is prepared to
put all of their resources
behind finding new
talent for the imprint.
So I mean, obviously,
I thought of you. [CHUCKLES]
Jesse, you are the
voice of a generation.
I'm just tryin' to say the shit
that I wish somebody would've
said to me 10 years ago, you know?
You've really helped me feel like
I wasn't completely losing my mind
these past couple of years.
Like, I wasn't the only one.
I wanna help you get
your message everywhere,
and you should know, given
Wagner's current PR situation,
you can fully name your price.
No, like, seriously, whatever
number you're thinking,
just go ahead and double it.
It's a hell of a pitch.
So, you'll think about it?
Oh, absolutely fuckin' not.
- Wait, what?
- I mean,
ya know, I see what
you're tryna do, and
mad respect to Diana Gordon,
but come on, I'm not
just chasin' checks,
I have my integrity.
No, but you could be doing
good and making checks.
Ya know, you're not chasin' them,
you're, um, running alongside them.
It's a cross-country team of
just you and a-a bunch of checks.
Lena told me how you
DM'd me on Instagram.
And you accosted her at a party.
- Ah.
- It's cool. I'm flattered.
- [SIGHS] Okay.
- But
you've got so much ambition,
gotta get the fuck up outta there.
Look, I know they're not perfect,
but maybe this reset
is exactly the kinda moment
I need to make a real change.
You can make real change somewhere else.
We have openings at the show.
I really appreciate that.
But I believe in the work
that I'm doing at Wagner,
and Diana means too much to me
for me to just give up on them now.
You set this meeting even
though you knew I would say no.
You were willing to
embarrass yourself for them.
Would they do the same for you?
How much longer are you
willing to compromise yourself
for a paycheck?
Ya know call me
when you've climbed out
of it and grown a spine.
Twenty should cover it.
Look, remember, you're getting a fade,
I'm askin' the questions,
and we are dating.
Yeah, I really wish you would've
run that one by me first.
[WHISPERS] Yeah, you be a'ight.
- Okay You're next.
- Ah.
All right, mama, what
we doin' today? Big chop?
[LAUGHS] No one's touchin' me.
- We're here for my boyfriend.
- I just wanna get a haircut.
- [WHISPERS] Fade, fade.
- Okay. Like a, like a fade?
Yeah, yeah, that's what
it's called. [CHUCKLES]
Come on. I got you, man. All right.
There we go.
All right, mama. Gonna stand here
and watch him the whole time or what?
[LAUGHS] Sorry!
We are just inseparable, me and my man.
You got someone?
Special in your life?
Yeah, I got a lady.
We've been together
for, like, a year now.
A year? Nice.
So, you must've known her
when she was in Boston.
Okay, I didn't say
nothin' about no Boston.
No, she, she, she doesn't
know what she's sayin'.
MANNY: I never lived in no Boston.
Okay? My girl never lived in Boston.
- Hey, you need to get the fuck outta here.
- All right, hold on, chill, bro.
- We, we just tryna talk to you, that's it.
- Ah, ah, ah, ah, ah.
Who are you? Huh? Are
you that Shani chick?
Who is Shani?
Uh, are gonna finish? Please.
- Out. Out. Dale, brother.
- Wait, hold on, bro. Who is Shani?
- Brother, out, out. Come on.
- We're I'm goin', I'm goin'.
All right, my dude, can you
just tell me who Shani is?
Does she have a last name?
- What she look like?
- Mama,
- you need to leave. Okay?
- OWEN: Come on.
- Come on, come on.
- MANNY: Okay?
Got you. I, I heard you, bro. Dang.
What the hell was that?
That, my loving
boyfriend, was intel. Go.
Can I show you something?
Of course.
It's about the ending,
isn't it? Of Burning Heart?
[SIGHS] I don't like to talk about it.
But do you ever sometimes wonder
if it might hurt less if you did?
I wrote that ending long before
I ever knew Burning
Heart would get published.
Kenny and I spent hours
talking it through.
No one could talk craft
quite like Kenny, ya know?
We thought we landed it,
but Richard didn't.
He thought it was too dark and too much.
Too much for white people?
Kenny was livid and so was I.
I mean but I kept on thinking,
"What if nobody bought this book?
What if all my work was for nothing?"
And so, I convinced myself
that I was changing the ending
for all the Black
writers coming after me.
But Kenny didn't see it that way.
She hated Richard for it,
and I'd be lying if I said
I wasn't still angry at him.
But then, I see what
Burning Heart became
and I I can't say
that I fully regret it.
But isn't that why we should
publish the original ending?
We've come a long way
in the last 35 years.
Have we?
- Black people are allowed to be messy now.
Haven't you seen any
Shonda Rhimes show ever?
Okay, well, you would love
Scandal based on your coats alone,
but my point is we have
got to stop compromising.
Do you know what this book
did for me when I read it?
It was the first time I saw myself.
It was the first time I realized that
maybe there is a world
outside of Connecticut
that actually held more
possibilities for me.
And the idea that Burning
Heart could get rereleased
with an ending that's even more real,
and complicated,
that would touch not just the
little Nellas of the world,
but the little Kendra Raes, too.
And I keep saying that
I believe in Wagner, but
what I really believe in is this.
- Let's do it.
- Yeah.
And you're sure about this?
It's time.
I should've never listened to you.
Di, I'm sorry.
You know I would never
do anything to hurt you.
From now on, we're doing things my way.
What's goin' on?
- Look what happened to your man.
- Ow.
Oh, no, did a kid do that to you?
A Latinx barber.
Oh, my God, just say Dominican.
Okay, guys, I am 20 minutes
into a 30 minute lunch,
so abridged version, please.
A'ight, bet. We found Hazel's boyfriend.
He's a barber.
[WHISPERS] Why did you do that?
'Cause we lookin' out for you.
And sis, when we said
Boston, he flipped.
Somethin' super sus is goin' on there.
Either she lied, or she's
hidin' some former identity,
or s-some even weirder third thing.
I don't think that it's all that,
but it was definitely strange.
I mean, somethin' happened in Boston.
Um, what happened was that
her last scam went bad.
No, you need to call Hazel out.
Scammers don't want smoke.
She'll run away to another city,
and you will be free of her ass.
I cannot just [WHISPERS]
accuse her of being a scammer.
And why not?
'Cause I don't know if I believe it.
I'm gonna say something.
I'm just gonna be a little less
SWAT team than the two of you
and give her a chance to
explain this whole Eva thing.
I mean, there's gotta be an explanation.
- For the record, I agree.
- NELLA: Thank you.
You guys know that
she works here, right?
I can't just be takin'
these calls in the middle
Is that Malaika? Hi! Hi, Mal.
'Member me from the
- Oh, she hung up.
- Yeah.
Should we call her back?
- Hey. Hi. [CHUCKLING] Hey.
- Hi.
- Um uh, I just
Could I ask you somethin' kinda crazy?
Uh, who still buys cookbooks and maps?
- Hell if I know.
- Right?
- That's what I'm sayin'.
'Cause, yeah. [SHARP
INHALE] Um, no, I just, uh
Okay, have you ever
gone by the name Eva?
Who told you that?
One body. I mean,
uh, I-I-I-I met this guy.
Um h-he's from Boston
and he thought that maybe
you guys worked together
Nella, this is serious. I need
you to be honest with me, okay?
Was it a girl?
A girl with a scar?

Please tell me you didn't
You didn't say anything
to her about me. Pl
- Shit. Shit.
- Oh, my God, of course not.
- Who, who is she?
She's Shani She's Shani.
I told you about her, Nella,
that coworker from Boston,
the one who hated me?
Ugh, damn it.
[SIGHS] Oh, my God.
I'm-I'm so sorry, I did not connect
- those two
- Ya know, if you told me that someone
used to hate you,
and then some stranger with a scar
started asking me questions about you,
I would come to you, Nella. Damn it!
Oh, my God, she followed me here. I
- Oh, my God, what the fuck am I gonna do?
- Oh, my God.
- Oh, fuck.
- Hey, Hazel, maybe we can go to the police?
I already tried that!
If that worked, then I wouldn't
have had to move to a new city
and change my name.
I gotta I gotta get home.
I gotta, I gotta get home.
- Uh, can I walk you to the train or something?
- You have done enough.
Thank you. I'm good.
[SIGHS] Shit.
You should've left me alone.
SHANI: Somebody, help! Help me!
[GRUNTS] Let me go!
- Tell me how you feel ♪
- Are you even real? ♪
Are you even real? ♪

Well, maybe I should
study my reflection ♪
Best to know ♪
How I seem, I seem, I seem ♪
I spend the day ♪
Dreaming of connection ♪
Just to feel ♪
How you feel, you feel ♪
Are you even real? ♪
She said, tell me how you feel ♪
Are you even real,
are you even real? ♪

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