If you haven’t heard, esteemed actress and Black Hollywood icon, Jasmine Guy, is set to star in the upcoming Lifetime thriller, Vanished: Searching For My Sister.
In the Tim Woodward Jr.-direct movie, fellow actress Tatyana Ali plays a set of twins (Jada and Kayla) who are the complete opposite of one another, personality-wise, with Jada being more wholesome while Kayla is rebellious with a dark side. Recently divorced, Kayla asks her sister to watch her daughter while she goes to set up a new home for them, but never returns. A worried Jada files a missing person’s report with Detective Hill, played by Guy. With the investigation riddled with roadblocks and unexpected standstills, Jada takes matters into her own hands as she searches for the truth behind her sister’s disappearance.
For Guy, playing a detective tackling a complex case was an intriguing opportunity. She prepared for her role by studying intense police dramas including the entire Law & Order franchise and even international series from Australia and New Zealand. Aside from the research, what drew her to the role was the script. “This script really grabbed me because of the suspense of it,” she explained to VIBE. “[Additionally,] the leads were women; I thought it was really powerful and something we don’t always get to play.”
In her character’s backstory, Hill’s wife had gone missing during a work retreat years prior to her case. With her role being that of an LGBTQ+ person, Guy expressed how “a loss is loss,” no matter the sexual orientation or gender identity of who she portrays. “People are driven with their losses by what they couldn’t fix or couldn’t correct. So it was easy to tap into that drive for her, when someone is doggedly trying to fix something, they’re usually trying to fix something in their personal life that happened to them.”
When asked what sets this film apart from some of her previous roles, she perked up saying, “I like the fact that I was playing a woman in power. It felt good. It felt real. It felt like if I were a detective, I’d be this kind of detective. It reminded me of Cagney and Lacey, but that’s way before your time. They were the first female detective team that I ever saw on television when I was growing up and I loved that—tough without losing their femininity and their sense of who they were as women.”
Before working on this Lifetime mystery film, Guy and Ali first met on the set of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Over the last 30 years, the veteran actresses have worked closely on previous movie projects. Guy’s tone was very tender and doting when speaking on her personal and professional relationship with the former child star whom she considers “one of her three babies.” [Raven-Symoné and Keisha Knight Pulliam are the other two.]
“Tatyana is a joy,” she shared. “I met her on Fresh Prince. She was a little kid, but so professional, so poised, so warm. I did a Christmas movie with her [2017’s Wrapped Up in Christmas] and she had just had a baby and I thought, ‘oh my gosh, now I’m working with a little grown-up Tatyana.’ I mean, I love that.”
For Guy, playing the intense role of Detective Hill was all about balance. While she doesn’t necessarily have a preference between comedic and dramatic roles, the 59-year-old explained how she juggled the two extremes. “I’m like dying to crack a joke or something at some point after eight hours of being all intense and serious. Sometimes I just want to fart or something (laughs). Break it up a little bit. Real-life to me fluctuates throughout the day.”
When the cameras weren’t rolling on set, Guy spent her downtime hanging out with her scene partner, Carolyn Hennesy (pictured above), coloring and engaging with the children on set and their parents. “It was like a little trailer neighborhood,” she explained.
In an exclusive clip shared with VIBE from the film, Ali as Jada angers the two detectives working on her sister’s case when she admits she disguised herself as her missing twin to build a timeline around her disappearance. Hennesy nonchalantly shares that this was the fastest way to get her killed and ruin any chance they had of solving the mystery. However, Ali is willing to do whatever it takes to find out what happened including risking her own life. Coincidentally, this was also Guy’s favorite scene to shoot.
“She’s so frustrated with the pace of the investigation that she keeps coming in and keeps getting in the middle of the [it.]” Guy explained. “I had to come hard on her and tell her, ‘You have to keep out of this because you’re going to get hurt. You’re going to mess up my case. You’re going to contaminate evidence.’ It felt very maternal at that point. I was hard on her, but it reminded me of how I have to talk to my daughter sometimes. That kind of maternal veracity is familiar to me.”
Following the premiere of Vanished: Searching For My Sister, Guy will be starring in the independent film, The Lady Makers, headed to Amazon Prime on Feb. 22. The indie endeavor tells the story of three older Jewish women in Indianola, Mississippi who make a pact before they die to teach what they know about being a lady to three younger detainees living in their home.
That film’s premise—along with the depiction of her character in Vanished—touch on the realities of feminity and womanhood today. “Well, we are complex creatures,” she said. “I think that as we experience life, we are somebody’s sister, somebody’s mother, somebody’s daughter, but I think what I love the most about women is that we can be friends very quickly [and] I find that we connect and support each other in a way that may take men a little longer to get to.”
Vanished: Searching for My Sister premieres Saturday, January 22 at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.