‘BMF’ newcomer Ren King is blazing a trail for more Black queer actors

BMF, or “Black Mafia Family,” is an infamous drug trafficking and money laundering organization founded in the 1980s by brothers Demetrius “Big Meech” Flenory and Terry “Southwest T” Flenory. Together, these two created one of the most influential crime families the United States has ever seen. In 2021, Starz’ and executive producer rapper Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson brought their story to life, transporting viewers from their homes into 1980s southwest Detroit.

Now, in its third season, BMF is going down south to early ’90s Atlanta, Georgia, where Big Meech plans to extend the BMF empire, while Terry maintains business in the “D.” But standing in his way is Henrietta “Henri” Andreas. Played by actor Ren King (they/them), Henri is an arrogant, magnetic drug kingpin balancing a politically connected family, a gender identity journey, a tight grip on ATL’s drug scene, and an even tighter grip on a flamethrower, as seen in the trailer below.

INTO spoke with King for our Get INTO It series where they dive into what makes their character Henri tick, the queer celebs who helped them come out, and how this season of BMF expands how we view chosen family.

Congrats on joining BMF season 3, Ren! You play the character Henri, a drug kingpin in a class all by herself in an male-dominated world. How would you describe Henri? 

Henri is one of the first of her kind and true trailblazer in the world of BMF. She’s a complete hothead with a thirst for legacy, respect, and belonging, and isn’t afraid to let some heads roll to quench that thirst.

Business aside, Henri is expected to navigate her own identity journey. What do you hope other Black queer people take away from watching Henri’s story unfold? 

I want Black queer people to know that the rage and frustration that comes with desiring to be seen as their full selves is incredibly valid and powerful, that chosen family can give you the visibility that blood family may not. How Henri chooses to channel her rage in her own personal struggle is not anything I would ever suggest or condone. I feel Henri might’ve had a nicer attitude and outlook if she had some community who accepted her fully.

Many queer folks can pinpoint different celebrities who helped them with their queer awakening. Which queer celeb helped you along the way with your own coming out process? 

I gotta give it up to my big 3: Tracy Chapman, RuPaul, and Janelle Monáe.

INTO is all about pop culture. What queer pop culture moment defined your childhood?

The kiss between Madonna and Britney Spears at the VMAs was one of the first times that a lightbulb went off in my head.

Coming back to your new show, were there any special guest stars on BMF that you were starstruck by? 

This show has so many legends of Black entertainment, so it’s impossible for me to choose only one. Christopher B. Duncan, Russel Hornsby, Kelly Hu, and LaLa Anthony were the people who I always hoped I’d run into at the makeup trailer or crafty if I didn’t have scenes with them. Absolutely wild that I’ve watched all of their work for years and now they’re my co-workers.

There are plenty of iconic people who have graced BMF; however, If we gave you a budget to produce a biopic about your favorite queer icon, who would it be, and what would be the Oscar-winning scene?

This is a really hard question, but I’m going to have to say Donna Summer. The music, the hair, her cultural impact on disco and club culture–I think there couldn’t be just one scene that would win the Oscar. Though if I were directing it, there would be a massive dance number to “Love Is In Control” at Studio 54. 

Lastly, what do you hope BMF fans take away from season 3?

I hope the fans will come away with an impulse to build their own chosen family and to remember the full adage of blood being thicker than water: “blood of the covenant is thicker than the water of the womb.” BMF is all about expansion this season and that includes expanding how we think about familial relations.

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