‘Clipped’ Star Cleopatra Coleman Says Finale ‘Speaks to the Power Structures of Our World’

Note: This story contains spoilers from “Clipped” Season 3, Episode 6.

The final episode of “Clipped” sees the Clippers headed to the playoffs, as Shelley Sterling (Jacki Weaver) looked for a buyer for the team and Donald Sterling (Ed O’Neill) conducted his infamous “apology” interview with CNN’s Anderson Cooper. The conversation went off the rails, with him accusing Cooper of being “more of a racist than I am” and yelling about Magic Johnson having AIDS.

After watching the interview and talking about selling the Clippers with her lawyer Pierce O’Donnell, public relations representative Seth Burton and friend Justine, Shelley revealed she’d revised the family trust so Donald could be removed as a co-trustee if he was found incompetent. After being tested by a doctor, Donald and Shelley are told that he has Alzheimer’s Disease. Meanwhile, Doc Rivers (Laurence Fishburne) told his players to block out the noise from the Sterling interview and focus on winning the playoffs, but they end up losing.

Shelley and Donald proceeded to meet with Steve Ballmer about an offer to buy the Clippers for $2 billion, which the latter rejected and said he won’t sell the team. Pierce O’Donnell urged Shelley to use the revised family trust to her advantage. While Donald quickly caught onto the plot and sued both Shelley and the NBA, he was ultimately removed and replaced by Ballmer.

Later in the episode, V. Stiviano (Cleopatra Coleman) met with her lawyer, revealing she’s running out of money and at risk of losing her house due to a lawsuit with Shelley. Upon entering the court house, V. saw Shelley and told her that if Donald were there, he would take her side. But he immediately followed in behind Shelley, taking her hand as the couple walked into the courtroom.

“This is her house of cards tumbling down. She finally got everything she wanted, which is what you see in the episodes that preceded it. She thinks ‘I did it, I made it, I’m going to be the next Kim Kardashian.’ And then it just starts to devolve,” Coleman told TheWrap. “That’s one of those moments where you see her realize she’s not powerful in this situation.

“Ultimately, the way that the world is structured is not for people like her to win. And that’s when her fantasy starts to fall apart personally for her,” she added.

Cleopatra Coleman (Dana Boulos)

In the end, Stiviano lost the court case and her house. Before exiting her home, Stiviano scratched the words Sterling Properties into the wall using a Clippers bottle opener. Coleman revealed that director Michael Blyden had her enter the empty duplex for the first time when the cameras were rolling for a more authentic reaction.

“I walked in with my roller skates in hand and was able to just discover the empty space and find my kid’s toy and try to put together this moment of grief… They shot it all handheld so that I wasn’t restricted, [so] they were able to just follow me around,” Coleman explained. “We have the paparazzi photos of her leaving, which is why we decided to put it in the show. There’s photos of her leaving the duplex, but we don’t know what happened inside so the [scratching Sterling Properties into the wall] was just fiction.”

Coleman added that her performance in the scene was inspired by watching Cate Blanchett in “Tár.”

“There’s a scene where Lydia Tár is playing the organ and she’s told to be quiet and there’s this ridiculous moment that happens in the film where it’s half-funny, half-tragic, very childish,” she said. “We wanted like a bratty weird moment, and that’s when I scratched Sterling Properties into the wall. It was really different in tone for the rest of the show, the earlier parts of my performance. I was just so excited that Michael wanted to be so creative and so out of the box… I was really game.”

While celebrating the sale of the team, Justine learned that Shelley did not intend to divorce Donald, despite her lawsuit, and that she gave V.’s house to her housekeeper. A confrontation between Shelley and Justine was interrupted by Doc, who thanked Shelley for buying his lunch but gave it back to her after pointing out that despite selling the Clippers, she and Donald still benefit from them.

“You don’t own him,” Justine told Shelley.

The show then moved to V. watching her children wash the side of a car covered in graffiti to help make ends meet, which prompted her decision to return to working for Donald Sterling. While carrying cups of coffee toward the house, her lawyer told her about a podcast asking her to share her story — a reference to the ESPN 30 for 30 series that ‘Clipped’ is based on — but she declined. After signing for a package, she’s last seen sitting on the Sterlings’ doorstep. Meanwhile, the Sterlings act as if everything was normal, though Shelley is still privately disturbed by the tape.

“Those last moments represent the systems of power in our world and how they are somewhat inescapable, unless we fundamentally change as a society. The fact that it’s real is just even more sobering. That’s the thing about true stories. They’re not always satisfying,” Coleman said. “The fact that we ended it there really does speak to the power structures of our world, and that there are Donald Sterlings all over the place and the world is built for them to win.”

All episodes of “Clipped” are available to stream now on Hulu.

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