Tyler Perry’s ‘Mea Culpa’ gets hot, heavy with Kelly Rowland, Trevante Rhodes

The new Netflix erotic thriller is out now
Mea Culpa. (L-R) Kelly Rowland as Mea and Trevante Rhodes as Zyair in Mea Culpa. Cr. Bob Mahoney / Perry Well Films 2 / Courtesy of Netflix

Credit: Bob Mahoney/Perry Well Films 2/Courtesy of Netflix

Credit: Bob Mahoney/Perry Well Films 2/Courtesy of Netflix

Mea Culpa. (L-R) Kelly Rowland as Mea and Trevante Rhodes as Zyair in Mea Culpa. Cr. Bob Mahoney / Perry Well Films 2 / Courtesy of Netflix

If you thought the vase-making scene from “Ghost” or food-eating extravaganza in “9 1/2 Weeks” were hot and heavy, a paint-themed coupling in the upcoming Netflix legal drama and erotic thriller “Mea Culpa” will steam up the windows.

Kelly Rowland, best known as part of Destiny’s Child from 1997 to 2006, has been more focused in recent years on acting including Disney+’s 2022 Atlanta-based “Fantasy Football” family comedy with Omari Hardwick, the 2022 Netflix comedy horror movie “The Curse of Bridge Hollow” and now her biggest ever role as a Chicago defense attorney in Tyler Perry’s “Mea Culpa.” It’s out Friday on Netflix.

Rowland is in almost every major scene in the movie, the protagonist with an unemployed husband whose overbearing mother was making her life miserable. She takes on the defense of a famous painter Zyair, played with sexy abandon by Trevante Rhodes (2016 Oscar winning best picture ”Moonlight,” Amazon’s “The United States vs. Billie Holliday”).

Zyair is accused of murdering his girlfriend and the evidence, albeit circumstantial, is problematic. Despite the fact Mea’s brother in law is the district attorney eager to take Zyair down, she takes on the case because she has bills to pay and she’s intrigued by Zyair, whose yen for women is blatantly obvious.

Rowland, who also came on as an executive producer, said she was excited to join a Perry vehicle for the first time but nervous given how quickly Perry works as a director. “How am I going to remember all these lines?” she said. “And Trevante is just a G at this. I wanted to be able to meet him at his level. I put so much pressure on myself but it was good because it made me uncomfortable.”

Rhodes credits Tyler Perry Studios for helping him get his first sizable role in a TV show in OWN’s “If Loving Is Wrong” a decade ago. “His studio was the first prominent studio to reach out and give me an audition,” he said. “I was in L.A. three or four months. It was just a big blessing to get an opportunity like that and win it so early on.”

Now he’s back in a much bigger, much meatier role as Zyair, whose spacious loft packed with paintings feels both alluring and dangerous to Mea. She has difficulty keeping boundaries with a client who seems more interested in Mea herself than his own innocence.

“We met the day before we started shooting,” Rowland said. “We didn’t even have a meal. It was a hug. But the hug made me feel very safe, very respected, very comfortable. I literally texted Tyler: ‘Oh yah... this is going to work!’”

Indeed, the most memorable scene in the movie involves an illicit romantic entanglement between Mea and Zyair featuring copious amounts of body paint.

“It was amazing,” Rhodes said. “It was fun. It was a very creative experience. I felt very in tune.”

“It was cold,” Rowland said. “The paint was cold. We had an intimacy coach to make sure we both felt comfortable. We really coordinated the scene together and how it looked like.”

“We got in the space and finessed it,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes didn’t paint the artwork seen in the movie but he himself is a painter. “I am the character,” he said.

NEW YORK, NEW YORK - FEBRUARY 15: Tyler Perry attends Tyler Perry's Mea Culpa Premiere at The Paris Theatre on February 15, 2024 in New York City. (Photo by Noam Galai/Getty Images for Netflix)

Credit: Getty Images for Netflix

icon to expand image

Credit: Getty Images for Netflix

Perry had to convince Rowland to take this role, which was nothing like she had done before.

“Tyler literally supported me,” she said. “I asked him for some time to think about it. I called another friend of mine and he said I should do it. So I said yes.”


“Mea Culpa,” available on Netflix