I'm very committed to its educational institutions, including my alma mater Central Falls High School's drama program, because I know that's what got me my start. I do everything I can to keep it alive since it made me feel like I had something to give to the world. I also support the Segue Institute for Learning, a charter school in Central Falls run by a friend of mine that my niece attends. I'm committed to that because of its proven results. They have the highest math scores of any charter school in Rhode Island.
We're in crisis mode as black actresses. It's not only in the sheer number of roles that are offered and that are out there, but the quality of the roles. The quality - and therein lies the problem. We're in deprivation mode because me, Alfre and Phylicia, we're in the same category. Whereas if you take a Caucasian actress, you have the one who are the teens, in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s - they're all different. There are roles for each of them. But you only have two or three categories for black actresses.
Sometimes you take a job for the money, sometimes you take it for the location, sometimes you take it for the script; there are just a number of reasons, and ultimately what you see is the whole landscape of it. But I can tell you from behind the scenes - that's what it is, as an actor.
I didn’t see myself any different from my white counterparts in school. I just didn’t! I thought I could do what they did. And what I didn’t do well, I thought people were going to give me the opportunity to do well, because maybe they saw my talent, so they would give me a chance. I had no idea that they would see me completely different.
I heard about the book and I said, ‘Oh my god, I’ve got to read this book,’ and I didn’t know that a white woman wrote it. Nobody said that to me, they just said, ‘The Help – Oh my god, you’ve got to read it.’ Everyone failed to mention it was a white woman, I think, because nobody really wants to talk about race.
I worked in television; I’m the Failed Pilot Queen, I’ve done so many television shows, pilots, theater … when you do it for so long, I’m telling you, you get to the point where it becomes varied because you take what’s available for a number of reasons. It’s just an occupational hazard.
It’s like any great medicine that works. It tastes absolutely lousy going down, but ultimately helps and heals you. And that’s what Juilliard was. Juilliard is classical training. They don’t really want to focus on what you do well – that’s what got you into the school. They’re training you to do other stuff well, which may not come easily to you.
Sometimes you take a job for the money, sometimes you take it for the location, sometimes you take it for the script; there are just a number of reasons, and ultimately what you see is the whole landscape of it. But I can tell you from behind the scenes – that’s what it is, as an actor.