*Season 2 of the Starz original series “Boss” premieres Friday with new cast member Sanaa Lathan bringing all kinds of fresh challenges to Kelsey Grammer’s manipulative mayor of Chicago, Tom Kane.

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As previously reported, Lathan plays Mona Fredricks, a principled political adviser who eventually becomes Kane’s Chief of Staff.

“Mona is a very smart, politically savvy woman who grew up on the South Side of Chicago,” Lathan told us at the recent TCA press tour. “She grew up in a community that was very disenfranchised, and I believe that she pursued politics to be an advocate for those people in that community.”

Throughout the season, Mona supports residents of a housing project called Lennox Gardens (think Cabrini Green). “She’s really concerned about the community there and wants to make sure that they’re not abandoned,” said Lathan. “And I think Kane is really the only one who can do something about it, so when she has the opportunity to work with him, she takes it.”

(L-R) Actors Kelsey Grammer, Sanaa Lathan, Jonathan Groff and Tip ‘T.I.’ Harris speak at the ‘Boss’ discussion panel during the Starz portion of the 2012 Summer Television Critics Association tour at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on August 2, 2012 in Los Angeles

As for any sparks flying between Mona and the mayor, Lathan warns, “It’s really about the community. It’s not really about her admiration or devotion with him.

But…

“He takes a little bit more interest in me than is political,” she admits. “You will have to watch and see what happens.”

In an upcoming episode, Mona goes back to Lennox Gardens, where Kane believes she has a lot of influence, only to find out that the residents there no longer trust her. The scene was shot inside of Chicago’s real Cabrini Green housing projects. Below, both Kelsey and Sanaa describe what it was like to film there, and what the residents thought of Hollywood coming into their neighborhood.

“Boss” season 2 premieres Friday, Aug. 17 at 8 p.m. Watch the trailer below.