Today I took part in a lifestyle blogger conference call with the ever so talented and fabulous, Phylicia Rashad (Yes, that one! **Swoon**). She was everything I imagined her to be–eloquent, funny and real. She discussed her role as co-star Common’s mother, Ella McKnight, in the upcoming film, Just Wright, how she selects acting roles, fashion and her love for hip-hop.
How she prepared for her role as a basketball mother
People always ask about the Claire Huxtable character in everything that is done. How does she compare to me as a person? How is she different from this particular mother? The thing about being a mother is just being a mother. For me, it isn’t rocket science. Being a mother is heartfelt, whether you are a good one, or a bad one. (In Just Wright) the mother understands that the son is a man, and he’s still the son. I can say that for myself: My son is a grown man, but he’s still my child. Mothers just feel that way. It doesn’t change.
Why you should see Just Wright
This was a great film to be apart of. The chemistry of all the people who worked on this film transferred onto the screen. It’s a film that satisfies so many people, and you can take anybody in your family to see it.
Her feelings about hip hop after working with Queen Latifah and Common
Oh, I like em! (Queen Latifah and Common) …..(On hip-hop) I don’t like crass language. It says to me that someone is without poetry. If you want to hear poetry, go back and listen to the blues. ‘My baby done left me.’ Aww, baby, now I like that. I like the musicality (of hip-hop). I think we need to offer our young people musical instruction. And how the rest of the world rejoices in it (hip-hop) is really something to see. You see people in Japan wearing their hats backwards and pants down. Don’t tell me people don’t have influence. People have influence. Young people are influential.
On how she selects acting projects
I look to see if there’s truth in it, you know. I look to see if there’s something that resonates with me. If it isn’t in the characters themselves, it might be in the form of whatever work that is–the genre. Also, I look at with whom I will be working. And sometimes I work with people I have not worked with before, and it’s always exciting.
Her first thoughts about her character, Lena Younger, in the screen adaptation of A Raisin in the Sun.
I didn’t see that character in a woman. Does that make sense? A woman–the woman. The woman who loves a man in every way a woman can–and only that one man…what that means. It’s hidden in the writing, but with Kenny Leon, the director, I was allowed to explore that. And that’s why he wanted me to play the role because he said I’d do something different.
How she keeps her signature youthful glow
Sleep is your best friend–sleep and water. I don’t drink and I don’t smoke. Products? I use Spahtika!
On First Lady Michelle Obama
She is so completely comfortable in her skin. There are a great number of people who look at her with appreciation and respect. I think she represents our country very well. The American woman is about intelligence–about mother and wife. She is woman and she is that so naturally.
Her style and why she’s not a shopaholic
I look at the way a garment makes me feel. I’m big on comfort. It’s not about being pinched up and pulled together–feeling like a truffed up turkey. Oh no, that will never do. I like garments that are extremely feminine. I like things that just grab you and say, “Ooh, take me!” I see garment and think, ‘I’m never gonna see that again. I’m gonna get that.’
I don’t go shopping every month, or every week. Sometimes I don’t go shopping for a whole year because I’m not that kind of person and because I have so many lovely things that I can interchange them. I like to create a look. I like to take something from here and over there and back yonder, and put it together. That’s fun.
Reflections on the late singer/actress/activist Lena Horne
She was an amazing human being. She was as fiery as she was beautiful, and that fire was a fire of intellect–very keen intellect. She thought deeply about everything she did, and she felt deeply about everything she did. She was a person who was very loyal and devoted in her friendships. She loved her family deeply. She was a woman who endured more than we’ll ever know. I consider myself very privileged to have met her and to have spent time just talking with her.
Be sure to check Ms. Rashad out along with Queen Latifah, Common and Paula Patton in Just Wright, May 15.
*Photo courtesy of 42 West PR