Yetide Badaki plays the goddess Bilquis in American Gods (Paul Butterfield/FilmMagic/Getty)
The Nigerian-born American stars in the Neil Gaiman fantasy series as Bilquis, the legendary Queen of Sheba and ancient goddess of love.
Interviewed by Digital Spy ahead of the third series, Badaki spoke of how the “empowering” role helped her find the freedom to be open about her own sexuality.
“I feel like this show is always willing to have these conversations, and always willing to open it up,” she said. “I’ve experienced personally how that kind of open discourse allows for personal freedom.
“I came out as bisexual last year. I would say it’s very much thanks to this show, and the discussions they’re having.”
As she approached the role Badaki found a sense of symbiosis with her character and often found herself asking: “What would Bilquis do?” The discussions she had as she explored this question helped her to “own” her sexuality.
“I was so happy to be having conversations about sexual empowerment and sex positivity, because I think there is so much that goes on in the silence, in the darkness. That’s where things go in the cracks,” she mused.
“But when we are able to own our own sexuality, and actually have conversations around it, that becomes something that’s healthier for everybody involved. I always say that regression comes from repression.
“When you’re actually able to face whatever it is, that’s when growth and evolution can occur. So that’s been something that I’m very proud to be a part of.”
She hinted at what’s to come from season three of American Gods, promising viewers will see “more than one side” to Bilquis – and even a major fight scene.
“I love that we are cementing this idea that love is not passive. It’s not just something that rolls over,” she said. “There is a lot of fire behind love, and there’s a lot of passion behind love. And that love does work to move things forward.”