This week is Diandra Lyle’s week for three huge reasons. First, the actress appears in her very first episode of Peacock’s Bel-Air. Second, her Disney Channel series Secrets of Sulphur Springs returns for its third season. And maybe, most importantly, the third reason is it’s her birthday today! Add her recent guest starring appearance on NBC’s Quantum Leap into the mix, and the Iowa native has a lot to celebrate.
Her acting story starts out in an entirely different universe. She was a recreational therapist. But when that door closed, she opened the door to a new purpose: acting. “I didn’t have traditional training like my fellow actors,” Lyle explains. “It was just a matter of getting into classes to hone my instruments. To learn the craft to the best of my ability and to keep learning. Because with anything I respect, you have to give it time. You have to honor it. It was definitely a career change.”
This career change doesn’t mean she abandoned her psych roots completely, however. “Just understanding psychology and human nature is key for acting. It really is. Because that’s all we’re doing, right, is living and understanding and empathizing and communicating.”
Her earlier television appearances include The Haves and Have Nots, Bones, The Young and the Restless and General Hospital. But, watch out, she’s collected a serious amount of credits recently, on streaming platforms, cable and broadcast TV.
Lyle’s Bel-Air character, Erika Baker, is looking like she’s going to cause trouble now that the show is midway through its second season. So Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv might need to proceed with caution since they have history with the attorney. “[Erika] is a high-powered attorney. She went to college with Uncle Phil and Aunt Viv. She and Viv were best friends,” she reveals. “She’s coming back into the fold 20 years later. And she may, or may not, stir up a little drama.”
The actress is beyond happy to be part of the show having grown up watching Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, the hit sitcom that inspires this streaming drama.
“Magic is the one word I keep coming back to when I think about my experience with Bel-Air. From day one, I was welcomed with open arms. I felt like family from the beginning. So that really is a big testament to the cast and crew,” she says.
She also appreciates the way the show has flipped the script on the late great comedy that starred Will Smith. “What they’ve done with the show is really amazing because all the characters still have all the same isms of the original characters. And then you have the storylines that are parallel to what happened in Fresh Prince. But they’ve made it their own. And it’s impressive.”
Look for Lyle’s character to appear on Peacock’s Bel-Air for much of the rest of the season.
SECRETS OF SULPHUR SPRINGS, DISNEY CHANNEL & DISNEY+
Tonight, the third season of Secrets of Sulphur Springs rolls out on Disney Channel. In the supernatural series, Lyle plays Jess Dunn, the mom of Harper and Topher.
“There’s really not too many shows out there where kids and adults can both enjoy it. I tell this to people all the time who are not familiar with it,” the actress explains. “I say look, if you watch it, don’t be surprised if you like it. They do a really good job of keeping it unpredictable with the twist and turns.
“I’ve heard people say this is our family show. This is our favorite show,” she continues. “I got my dad to watch it and he loves it and I love hearing that.”
She feels she and her Sulphur Springs character have a lot in common. “I’ve been a single parent for a long time and she’s a single parent,” she reveals. “She’s strong and she has her stubborn side and I do too. And she’s mama, but she still has her playful, sassy side. And that’s who I am. But I love that because I think it’s important to show that type of parenting where you’re devoted, you love your kids, you’re going to protect them. You’re not going to take any mess, but you’re still going to have fun and just be real with them.”
Two episodes of Secrets of Sulphur Springs premiere on Disney Channel tonight while the first two seasons are available on Disney+. “I will say this. In season three, they leaned into the spookiness and the horror even more. It’s going to get some people and by the end of the season, there’s going to be some tears. When we did the table read for the season finale, it was emotional. It’s going to be a really strong season. It’s going to be good.”
QUANTUM LEAP, NBC
Lyle is the epitome of Guest Star Goodness in an episode of Quantum Leap called “Ben Song for the Defense.” In it, the actress plays ADA Vicky Davis, a prosecuting attorney in the 1980s (hence the big hair) and the partner of Aleda, the woman Ben (Raymond Lee) temporarily takes over, who’s a defense attorney.
“Becoming that role… it was written well, it was surrounded by a host of talent,” she says. “The people that I played opposite were amazing, which made it easier to step into that role in those scenarios. I really enjoyed it. I really loved that character. It was special.”
“They did a really good job of creating so many different challenges,” she continues. “There were all these different dynamics happening. So just to navigate that, but to humanize her and really humanize the relationship she had with her partner was just beautiful. And when I watched it, I didn’t feel like it’s me up there. I just feel like it’s the character. I felt connected to Vicky and Aleda and I felt the love between them and for what they do, the legal word. It was just a special project and a special role to be involved with. I’m really glad I had this opportunity.”
The opportunity involved working opposite Quantum Leap star Raymond Lee. “Ray was in it a thousand percent. He has his ears pierced anyway, so those were nothing. But the heels. Our heels were pretty short. He would slip out of those pretty quick and put on his slippers. But you know, he had the pantyhose on and we took some fun pictures together in our little outfits and he’s just such a good sport. He embraces it. So he’s just an amazing person overall.”
In addition to acting Lyle has directing aspirations. But for right now she’s booked and busy simultaneously appearing on Peacock’s Bel-Air and Disney’s The Secrets of Sulphur Springs starting this week.
Header photo courtesy of Diana Ragland.
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