Actor Henry Simmons is captivating on screen as the anthology’s latest love interest

Henry Simmons and Joy Bryant play Ellis Morran and Sunday St. James in the second season of “Cherish The Day.” (Courtesy of OWN)

It’s been two years since the first season of “Cherish The Day”, created and produced by Ava DuVernay, premiered on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network). In the second season, which airs on Tuesdays at 9/8c, viewers are introduced to a new couple in the anthology, Ellis Moran (Henry Simmons) and Sunday St. James (Joy Bryant), as they explore rekindling their high school relationship after 25 years apart.

Recently, the Sentinel sat down with Simmons during a press lunch at Eataly in Century City where he, alongside several journalists, participated in a cooking class and learned to make authentic Italian pasta.

With charisma that’s palpable both on screen and in person, it’s hard to believe that “Cherish The Day” is Simmons’ first time toplining a series as the romantic lead. Fans of the show may recognize the Stamford, Connecticut native from his previous role as Alphonso ‘Mack’ Mackenzie in Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” With “Cherish The Day”, Simmons gets to show his range as an actor and tap into a different set of emotions playing a character who’s a husband and a father. With the endearing monologues and depths displayed within the show, Simmons is more than ready for his dream role in a theater production of an August Wilson play.

Simmons speaks with the Sentinel about his role as Ellis Moran and why now, more than ever, is the time for Black men to lean into their vulnerability.

LA Sentinel: Has acting inspired you to direct or produce your own projects?

Henry Simmons: I’ve been thinking about producing. The reason is, I want to have more influence in having more young people of color involved. Oftentimes when people say there’s a project with a lot of diversity in a project, they’re usually referring to the actors in front of the camera, but then when you go behind the camera and look at the executives, they’re not that many, so I would like to have some influence with that.

“Cherish The Day” Star Henry Simmons Makes Pasta with the Press at Eataly in Century City
(Photo Credit: Arnold Turner)

LAS: We’ve seen that with Ava DuVernay. She’s created a template where there’s no excuse not to have women and people of color behind the scenes.

HS: She’s doing it, she’s excellent. One of the things I like about Ava is when people make excuses and say, ‘there aren’t that many female directors,’ Ava shows that they’re out there, you just have to do the work. And not only are they [women and POC] out there, they’re capable, they’re wonderful and amazing.

LAS: As a father, is your parenting style similar or different from your character, Ellis Moran?

HS: I’m similar to Ellis in the way of putting my children first. His foundation is his two daughters and everything else comes second. I would have to say I’m the same way with my daughters as well. Ellis has a lot more patience than I do in every area of his life. Not that I’m an impatient person, I think he has too much patience (laughs), but it’s admirable!

LAS: What advice would you share with Black men in regards to being willing to be more vulnerable and not thinking vulnerability is a weakness?

HS: I think vulnerability is a strength. Black men, in particular, should strive to be more vulnerable in their relationships whether that be with their friends, wives, girlfriends, or whomever that may be. The reason is, we have a lot of trauma. Black people in general have a lot of trauma.

I didn’t realize that until the pandemic with everything that was happening over that summer of 2020, I realized that there’s a lot that I keep in. Just the fact that you can walk out of your house, get pulled over, and not know what’s going to happen. That and in terms of, I don’t care what business you’re in, oftentimes there’s a ceiling when you’re a person of color so there’s a lot of trauma.

I think it’s important for us to be vulnerable and open to sharing that with one another as well as with our significant others. All of us go through it and the more we recognize it, the more we bring it out and put it on the table, the more we can deal with it. It takes a community.