The amazing American Violet hits DVD today. Based on a true story, a single mother of three, Dee Roberts, is randomly arrested on bogus drug charges. Forced with the choice to either give in or to fight, she challenges an archaic, corrupt and racist Texas legal system, risking the freedom of herself and her family.
During the press for American Violet, where I interviewed Nicole Beharie and Xzibit, I also had a chance to sit down with the legendary Oscar nominee and Emmy winner, Alfre Woodard. One of the most interesting quotes she gave me was on advice for aspiring actors and telling video vixens with names like “Chocolata” to keep those legs closed.
You’ve been in this industry for a long time. Is there anything you had to work for that the young actresses of today take for granted?
“What I would say that exists now, with the 24-hour news cycle and just the rabid, insatiable appetite for being in people’s business — people are famous for total bullsh*t reasons now! But, those are the images that are flashed all the time. That person might get a role over a person who is actually gifted and trained like Nicole Beharie — she is being considered in the same breath as a video vixen is. Some studio says, ‘Well, more people will watch it if ‘Chocolata’ plays Sojourner Truth!’ [Laughs] Most of us who are over 40, maybe even over 30 — people may know things about us, but they don’t know when we ovulate. We learned how to close our legs when we get out of limos — whether you had your panties on or not.
“I would say to young actors, you really have to find – not even backdoor ways – windows, which haven’t been closed tight to get yourself in the room. People head off looking for people to act as leads in their movies to places where people are singing and dancing, but yet you’ve spent all this time preparing yourself. I would tell them don’t come to this hedonistic ball unless you come with training. All that other stuff will die away, it will fall and you just persevere. You have to know that you define who you are, you declare yourself an actor. You don’t wait for a magazine, newspaper or awards; you know who you are. Sometimes they might turn to you and recognize you, but don’t wait on it and certainly don’t depend on it.”
Tell it like it is, Alfre! Quick — email blast this to… well, you fill in the blank.