Greenleaf’s Merle Dandridge Getting Back on Track for Disney on Broadway & Staying Fit in Quarantine with Beachbody’s Work Creator, Amoila Cesar

Written by: Shaka Smith – April 23rd, 2020 11:39am pst

Photo Credit: OWN


Merle Dandridge, star of Greenleaf on the Oprah Winfrey Network sat down with Fit Club’s Shaka Smith and Fallon Mercedes to discuss the June return of the series, Disney on Broadway, mental health, getting back in shape and staying that way through quarantine with her trainer,  Amoila Cesar. 

Photo Credit: OWN

Dandridge was one of the Broadway actors whose performance in Disney on Broadway raised over $600,000 for the Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS COVID19 Emergency Relief Fund. Dandridge spoke of the ability to raise funds for PPE, ventilators, meals, work assistance, etc. as a gift. It has been underscored by Broadway’s own Nick Cordero’s Covid battle. Dandridge described her admiration for his wife, Amanda Kloots, who has rallied the community behind the #WakeUpNick social media tag, noting community is “something we all need right now”

Photo Credit: Tiziano Lugli

Dandridge couldn’t hold back her excitement about the return of Greenleaf, the OWN produced show in which she has starred since 2016, describing it as mind blowing. Careful not to reveal too much, she admittedly loves all the fan speculation regarding where Greenleaf left off, and said fans can expect more of the elements that have kept them wondering throughout the season. 

However, fans can be sure to expect a first episode full of emotion, so much so, after filming the episode Dandridge immediately took a vacation to reset mentally. She has been so intertwined with the character, she found her own personal growth in areas the character had not reached upsetting. She had to let “Grace off the hook” for making mistakes and trust that the character will also learn, fall down, get back up and grow. 

Dandridge, however, held nothing back when it came to praise for the workout she has credited with getting her back in shape and disciplined during quarantine. Joined by Amoila Cesar, trainer and creator of The Work, an intense 6 week fitness program, Dandridge revealed seeing just a clip of his workout, had her for the first time sliding into the trainer’s DMs to get direct instruction. Two days later, they were in the gym. Cesar candidly and hilariously described his worry on the first day of training, but Dandridge’s consistency paid dividends. 

Photo Credit: Beachbody

In discussing fitness failure, Dandridge recounted the start of training with Amoila as a low point physically. However, she described failure as a “strengthening and a character driving tool” that has been “a catalyst for the greatest change and move forward in [her] life.” Cesar echoed those sentiments, identifying he had to work on managing his own expectations and celebrating the small wins on the way to bigger goals. He counseled, this process began with asking himself the hard questions and those seeking to make a change must not be afraid to ask the hard questions to get to the level of achievement they’ve set for themselves. 

Greenleaf returns on the Oprah Winfrey Network in June. For the full episode and for more great content on health and staying fit, be sure to check out Black Hollywood Live’s Fit Club.

If you love Merle Dandridge, Greenleaf, and Black Hollywood Live Fit Club, share this article with a friend.  Tune in daily to Black Hollywood Live and our sister network AfterBuzz TV articles and aftershows for the latest news and info on the world of entertainment.



Shaka Smith

Fallon Mercedes 

About The Author:

Shaka Smith is an actor, host, fitness expert and attorney from Miami. A Princeton graduate, upon arriving in Los Angeles he began landing roles as a fitness model and competing in fitness competitions.

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