Marissa Jo Cerar, the showrunner of Hulu’s Oprah Winfrey-produced series “Black Cake,” said that she felt “so much pressure” to make her collaborator happy.
“She’s Oprah. She’s an idol of mine,” Cerar told The Post.
“I used to write her letters when I was a little kid — something I’ve actually never told her. I wanted to make sure that she was happy and proud. This book [the show is based on] was on Barack Obama’s ‘Best Books of Summer 2022’ list. There’s so much pressure, but there’s also so much love put into [the show].”
Based on a best-selling novel by Charmaine Wilkerson, “Black Cake” is a multigenerational saga that tells the sprawling tale of a family filled with secrets.
The story begins in the West Indies in the 1960s. Covey (Mia Isaac), a 17-year-runaway bride who is half-Jamaican and half-Chinese, sprints on a beach at night.
In the present day, a gray-haired woman, Eleanor Bennett (Chipo Chung), sits contemplating her life on a beach in California.
After Eleanor dies, her estranged adult children — ocean scientist Byron (Ashley Thomas) and artist Benny (Adrienne Warren) — go to attorney Charles Mitch (Glynn Turman) to go over their mother’s estate.
To their surprise, it’s not a routine will reading. The lawyer gives them recordings of Eleanor telling her true life story, as she reveals that what her adult children thought they knew about their family’s origins was all wrong.
“Black Cake” shifts between past and present and jumps around various locations — from Jamaica, to the UK, to California — as it traces Eleanor’s life along with Covey’s and her adult kids’ reactions to Eleanor’s recorded revelations.
As a teen, Covey had a boyfriend, Gibbs (Ahmed Elhaj), but her alcoholic dad, Lin (Simon Wan), arranged her marriage to a local gangster, Little Man (Anthony Mark Barrow). At their wedding, Little Man is poisoned, and Covey takes the opportunity to fake her death and flee.
“The power of female friendships moved me so much across generations. To see a cast of main characters who were diverse — half-black, half-Chinese, queer, a Chinese immigrant in Jamaica, a black ocean scientist in Orange County — to see this group of characters as the leads of the story about their family history was so exciting to me.
“And it’s a fun murder mystery, so that we could have something as juicy and premium as ‘Little Fires Everywhere,’ or ‘Big Little Lies.’”
The show’s title comes from a Caribbean dish that also draws influences from British cuisine, marrying different cultures, just like their family is a melting pot as the show explains.
“I have never baked it, but I have eaten it,” said Cerar. “I had some great black cake in Wales, and I had it in Jamaica. Before reading this book, I had never heard of it. It’s an acquired taste.
“Some people really don’t like it, but when it’s good, it’s really good.”
This story originally appeared on NY Post