‘And Just Like That' Star Karen Pittman on The Possibility of Nya Returning: "There's More Story to Tell"

Karen Pittman always looked for the humorous moments in having to juggle simultaneous shoots, on opposite coasts, for And Just Like That and The Morning Show, flying back and forth two to three times a month. One was using the time during the first-class flight from New York to Los Angeles to take out the braids that were a trademark of her character Dr. Nya Wallace on the Sex and the City sequel.

Walking onto the two sets was always a "pinch-me moment" for Pittman, who, to borrow a well-worn expression, has arrived. After making her Broadway debut in Disgraced more than a decade ago, she landed guest roles on shows like Madame Secretary, The Good Wife and The Blacklist. She then nabbed a recurring role in two seasons of The Americans, as well as a recurring role on Luke Cage, and, more recently, she starred on Yellowstone.

Her first main role was on Apple TV+'s award-winning original series The Morning Show, which debuted in 2019 and stars Reese Witherspoon and Jennifer Aniston. She plays Mia Jordan, a top producer at the fictional network UBA. The first season tackled the #MeToo movement head-on as fictional anchor Mitch Kessler, played by Steve Carell, was exposed for having abused numerous women (Pittman's character had a consensual affair with him).

She next signed on to HBO's And Just Like That, where the executive producers were intent on bringing diversity to the show. Pittman recently announced that she won't be returning for season three after signing on to star in the new Netflix series Forever, a modern-day adaptation of Judy Blume's iconic book about first love between two teenagers. Pittman has been shooting the first season of Forever in L.A. before she starts season four of The Morning Show.

Pittman, raised in Nashville, says she can still walk the streets of New York without being recognized most of the time. The actress, 38, recently spoke with THR to recap how she feels about the third season of The Morning Show, her departure from And Just Like That and how she keeps her characters from blending together.

How did new Morning Show showrunner Charlotte Stoudt change things up in season three?

We understood from seasons one and two that Mia was a hardworking producer and that she really wanted to make her way up the ranks, which she accomplished. When Charlotte came in, we discussed opening up the emotional landscape of the character. What do we want to know about her personal life, her home life, her heart? What things do we imagine that Mia has under her sleeve? I think Mia Jordan is a mysterious character and a character that you want to peer into.

Especially as a Black woman in the network news business, correct?

To your point, it's clear Mia is dealing with workplace issues as they relate to race in seasons one and two, and especially in season three, when the George Floyd news breaks. Mia is having to grow up in terms of making strides and mistakes in her career - even in season one, the idea of being in a workplace relationship with an anchor, and then in season three, being in a relationship with a photojournalist who's in Ukraine. There's something to be said for how we seek out relationship and love and what the reflection of it is. I think it's clearer in my whole body of work, going from Nya to Mia to all these characters that I've had a chance to embody. I hope that if you put those characters together, you see a full portrait of who African American women are right now in the 21st century.

What was the biggest challenge of season three?

Making sure all the new things we were learning about her feel authentic and real. I said to Charlotte, "I want to see Mia joyful, because she's so beleaguered. Can we see her dancing? Can we see her having a good time? Can we see her in love?" And then, of course, we turn right back around to see her in this moment of being really fraught with having to choose how to present information to her news audience about George Floyd and his murder during the pandemic. So yeah, those were some of the most challenging moments. We filmed all of that in a week's time.

Were there ever times where you said lines from one show on the other show?

Never. I use music to transition me from one world to another. If you go on my Apple playlist, you see Mia Jordan's playlist and Nya Wallace from season one and two.

‘and just like that' star karen pittman on the possibility of nya returning:

Karen Pittman as Dr. Nya Wallace in And Just Like That

How hard was it to make the decision to leave And Just Like That?

As it relates to season three, there were very real scheduling conflicts that got added to the mix once I decided that I wanted to do Forever. And there were some personal things that I don't want to elaborate on, as far as me going back to the show, in my own family life. But I also want to make sure that people don't think I would just throw that character away. I loved working with those people. I would've been able to continue to do it in a perfect world, but we don't live in that perfect world.

Are you satisfied with where Nya's character arc left off?

There's more story to tell there, but again, those decisions aren't made by me. I'm certainly open to going back and making more hay.

In the off season of The Morning Show, do you ever imagine how Mia would be handling all these big headlines happening in the world right now?

I do not think about Mia Jordan when I'm not Mia Jordan. But I do pay very close attention to journalism and to morning shows. I obsess a little bit over it, and as I get closer to the season and start receiving scripts, I think that if the people on television morning news shows knew how much I'm on their social media, they might be freaked out a bit. I do a lot of research on what the energy is on these shows. It's so important to encapsulate it, make it authentic and real for people.

What are your hopes for Mia in season four?

Peeling back more layers, more backstory. And I'm looking forward to how they unravel the breakdown of UBA. I can't say enough about how excited I am about some of the ways that Charlotte is looking at Mia and looking at the way we share power as women, how we wield it. One of the things I love about working on The Morning Show is that it's women-led, it's women-centric. I have some ideas about what Mia is doing in season four, but I would hate to spoil it for anyone. I think it's going to be super juicy.

This story first appeared in a June standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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