Catching up with Yolanda Adams on State Farm Arena show, BET+’s ‘Kingdom Business’ lead role

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

Credit: Alyssa Pointer / Alyssa.Pointer@ajc.com

The gospel queen will be joined by Erica Campbell, Jekalyn Carr, Marvin Sapp and others in concert Aug. 13.

Yolanda Adams is considered one of the top gospel performers of our generation so playing one on TV wasn’t such a stretch in a sense.

But Denita Jordan, the fictional character she plays on BET+’s drama “Kingdom Business” is no saint, despite being called “the Queen of Gospel Music” as First Lady of First Kingdom Church and head of Kingdom Records in Atlanta. Denita, Adams’ first big leading acting role, harbors plenty of secrets and will hide them from the public at any cost to ensure her family’s reputation remains intact. She can be overbearing and impetuous and feels threatened by a hot new gospel singer who also happens to be a pole dancer.

Credit: AP

Credit: AP

“Denita is the force to be reckoned with,” said Adams in an interview with The Atlanta Journal-Constitution to promote her upcoming gospel concert at State Farm Arena August 13 with a vast array of gospel brethren like Erica Campbell, Fred Hammond, Marvin Sapp, Jekalyn Carr, Le’andria Johnson and Keke Wyatt. “She’s the heart and soul. We’ll find out in the second season why she is the way she is. People say she is so mean and they don’t like her.”

Adams’ reputation in the business is nothing like that and she said that’s where acting came in. “You become that person,” he said. “You don’t try to act. You try to be. If there’s anything I’ve learned from this process it’s that you have to find some type of humanity in the person you’re playing. That person believes what they are doing is for the best. This is how she was brought up. She’s doing the service of God.”

The show, which shot season one last year in metro Atlanta, debuted on the streaming service in May and did well enough to quickly net a second season.

Adams, 60, began in the gospel business in 1982 and said she didn’t know anyone like Denita on the scene, citing the kindness of predecessors like Tramaine Hawkins, Shirley Caesar and Dorothy Norwood. “Denita is totally fictional,” she said, but added, “I know someone like her who’s in the church.”

Credit: BET+

Credit: BET+

While acting in this new role, she said she had the support of far more experienced actors around her like Michael Beach and Michael Jai White. And she learned patience is key when on a set. “They ask you to be there at 5:30 a.m. and they don’t get to you until 1 p.m.,” she said. “I often have plenty of time to go over my lines and gestures. By the time they call, I’m ready.”

In the meantime, she is psyched to join 15 other gospel stars at State Farm Arena on Saturday night. “It’s a huge show,” she said, involving different combos, including singers she has known since they were teenagers like Carr and Keyondra Lockett.

“We hope to do more of these in other cities,” she said. “This is like a kickoff.”


IF YOU GO

“Super Friends Praise Fest with Yolanda Adams”

6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 13. $45-$200. State Farm Arena, 1 State Farm Drive, Atlanta. statefarmarena.com.