Teenager Luke O’Neil sometimes feels lucky in Everything Sucks!, the Netflix series that looks at the timeless issue of adolescence in the very culturally specific moment of 1996 America. (In a town called Boring, Oregon, to get even more specific.) But Luke (Jahi Di’Allo Winston) really starts out each day lucky — his mom Sherry loves him with the kind of devotion they write TV shows about.
Luke’s mom Sherry O’Neil is portrayed by the incandescent Claudine Mboligikpelani Nako — and it isn’t just viewers who find Luke’s single mom enchanting. Sherry begins an affair with the father — Ken Messner played by Patch Darragh — of one of Luke’s classmates. (She’s actually not just a classmate, but his big time crush.) Nako attended the University of Wyoming and apprenticed after college at the rigorous Actors Theatre of Louisville. A long stint on stage in Seattle saw Nako act in such famous plays as A Raisin in the Sun and The Crucible. She also won major praise for her portrayal of Efua Kuti in My Heart is The Drum (see below). Nako has transitioned to the screen from the stage gradually. She has appeared on TV’s Grimm and she’ll appear in film Sadie, due out in March of 2018. If Nako looks too young to be Luke’s mom on Everything Sucks!, that’s because Sherry had Luke when she was a teenager. Everything Sucks! debuts on Netflix on February 16.