You can check out the article here. Vogue.com has the edited version of Halle’s interview online. You will have to buy the magazine to read the entire interview.
Actress Vonetta McGee passed away on July 9. The cause of death was cardiac arrest.
Vonetta appeared in what many folks called back on the 70’s blaxploitation pictures including Blacula, Shaft in Africa and Hammer. Vonetta also starred in Thomasine and Bushrod, The Eiger Sanction and Detroit 9000.
Vonetta was married to actor Carl Lumbly and she is survived by Carl, their son Brandon, her mother, Alma McGee, three brothers, Donald, Richard and Ronald McGee and a sister, Alma McGee.
Vonetta McGee, Film and TV Actress, Dies at 65
By MARGALIT FOX
Vonetta McGee, a film and television actress originally known for blaxploitation pictures like “Blacula,” “Hammer” and “Shaft in Africa,” died on July 9 in Berkeley, Calif. She was 65 and a Berkeley resident.
The cause was cardiac arrest, said Kelley Nayo, a family spokeswoman.
In “Blacula” (1972), Ms. McGee portrayed the love interest of Mamuwalde (William Marshall), an African prince who, after an ill-fated trip to Transylvania centuries earlier, re-emerges in modern Los Angeles as a member of the thirsty undead.
Reviewing the film in The New York Times, Roger Greenspun called Ms. McGee “just possibly the most beautiful woman currently acting in movies.”
In “Hammer” (1972), Ms. McGee appeared opposite Fred Williamson in the tale of a young black prizefighter. In “Shaft in Africa” (1973), the third installment in the private-eye series starring Richard Roundtree, she played an emir’s daughter.
Ms. McGee’s other films include “The Kremlin Letter” (1970); “Detroit 9000” (1973); “Thomasine & Bushrod” (1974); and “The Eiger Sanction” (1975), directed by and starring Clint Eastwood.
Lawrence Vonetta McGee, named for her father, was born in San Francisco on Jan. 14, 1945. While studying pre-law at San Francisco State College, she became involved in community theater. She left college before graduating to pursue an acting career.
According to a Los Angeles Times article, Vonetta McGee wasn’t fond of the term blaxploitation.
McGee was no fan of the “blaxploitation” label that was attached to many of the films featuring black casts in the ’70s.
That label, she told The Times in 1979, was used “like racism, so you don’t have to think of the individual elements, just the whole. If you study propaganda, you understand how this works.”
Although The Times reported that McGee “calls herself one of the lucky graduates of the black-film genre,” she pointed out that there was a difference between someone like Diana Ross and other potentially marketable black actresses.
“She has had the luxury of a studio behind her,” McGee said. “This is where a lot of us fell short. We all needed a certain amount of protection. But we were on our own.”
RIP Vonetta McGee.
She talks about her Facts of Life days, going to college and working with Tyler Perry. Kim played Tootie on The Facts of Life. I was a huge fan of this show back in the day.
by Tim Hayne
As an actress, Kim Fields spent most of her formative years in front of the camera. Now, she’s spending a lot of time on the other side of the lens.
The 41-year-old showbiz vet, wife to actor Christopher Morgan and mother to son Sebastian, 3, has been busy directing episodes of Tyler Perry’s hit sitcoms “Meet the Browns” and “House of Payne,” and offering advice to aspiring filmmakers as a panelist at this summer’s “Lens on Talent: Get Focused” film symposium and as a guest on the upcoming season of BET’s “Lens on Talent: A Johnson & Johnson Filmmaker’s Challenge,” which premieres September 12.
Fields sat down with Parade.com to talk about her child-star past, the underwhelming feat of turning 40, what it’s like to work with Tyler Perry, and why she has (almost) no regrets from her “Facts of Life” days.
Getting the acting bug at an early age.
“I was never pushed into the industry. I was a very shy child. I was not one to perform for friends and family at every get-together. When my mom [actress Chip Fields] started going to acting classes out here in New York, we couldn’t afford a baby sitter. And so she took me to the acting classes just because, well, what else was she going to do with me? And there were other kids there whose parents couldn’t afford sitters either. We would keep ourselves entertained by imitating what we saw them doing, and that kind of birthed acting classes for the younger kids. In that crop was Danielle Spencer, who played Dee on ‘What’s Happening.’ Her father was a ridiculously tremendous actor named Tim Pelt who we lost some time ago in a horrible car crash.”
I also remember Kim from her few appearances on Good Times. Kim’s real life mom, Chip Fields appeared in Good Times as Janet Jackson’s birth mom. Kim also starred in one of my all time favorite shows, Living Single. I still watch the reruns on TV One. Back in the late 70’s Kim starred in the short lived series Baby I’m Back.
It’s nice to read about a former child star who’s all grown up and doing very well in life.
You can read the entire Parade.com interview here.
Actress Phylicia Rashad loves mom roles. After playing Claire Huxtable in The Cosby Show and Lena Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, she continues her role as a mom next Tuesday when she stars as Violet Weston in the drama August: Osage Country at the Music Box Theatre.
Phylicia is the third actress to play Violet. The first two actresses, Deanna Dunagan and Estelle Parsons, were white. Phylicia will bring a new look to the Weston family.
Motherhood Becomes Her, Quite Often
By FELICIA R. LEE
PHYLICIA RASHAD is a mother who gets around. She killed her own children in a jealous rage as Medea. She bought a house in a hostile white neighborhood then persuaded her offspring to live there as Lena Younger in “A Raisin In the Sun.” And she juggled a law practice, five children and a mischievous husband without breaking a sweat as Clair Huxtable on the NBC sitcom “The Cosby Show.”
This soft-spoken, slyly humorous actress has fashioned a celebrated career out of playing mothers. Beginning Tuesday, at the Music Box Theater, she takes on the role of Violet Weston, the brittle, uncensored drug-abusing matriarch of an Oklahoma family in the drama “August: Osage Country.” In a notable flourish of so-called nontraditional casting, Ms. Rashad inherits a white stage family of three daughters, a husband, a sister and other relatives.
“People are more alike than we could ever be different,” Ms. Rashad, a real-life mother of two, said in an interview, taking on the question of whether a racially mixed Weston family is different from an all-white Weston family. “And there are all kinds of nuances in families, most of which we just don’t explore in film and television, onstage or, let’s face it, in life.”
I can’t believe that Ms. Rashad will be 61 years old next month. She looks great.
Check out the entire article here.
I saw a commercial a couple of weeks ago and thought I was seeing things. I saw that Jada Pinkett Smith will be starring in a new tv series. I was thinking, a black actress in a leading role on television? Yes I know it’s the 21st century but have you taken a good look at television lately? The new tv show is called Hawthorne and you can catch it on TNT. By the way Jada is also an executive producer for the show. Go Jada!!
According to the TNT website:
Following in the footsteps of Kyra Sedgwick in The Closer and Holly Hunter in Saving Grace, Jada Pinkett Smith (The Women, The Matrix Trilogy) is the latest actress to bring her talent to TNT’s arsenal of strong, complex female characters. In this character-driven medical drama told from the nurses’ point of view, she stars as Christina Hawthorne, the forceful-yet-caring director of nursing at Richmond Trinity Hospital. When a patient’s care is at risk, she will not hesitate to violate hospital protocol, defend her staff against egotistical doctors or firmly stand up to apathetic administrators who seem to have forgotten a hospital’s true purpose. Recently widowed, she also has to take on her equally important role as a mother to a willful, rebellious teenage daughter. Pinkett Smith heads a diverse cast that includes David Julian Hirsh (Lovebites), Michael Vartan (Alias), Christina Moore (90210) and Suleka Mathew (Men in Trees). She also serves as executive producer, along with Emmy®-winning creator John Masius (St. Elsewhere, Providence, Dead Like Me) and Jamie Tarses (My Boys).
By Gary Strauss
Jada Pinkett Smith is a film star, heavy metal rocker and mom. So why return to series TV for the first time since the early 1990s in TNT’s HawthoRNe (premieres June 16, 9 ET/PT)?
“I needed a lab where I could learn about story structure, it was a role I hadn’t had an opportunity to play, and it was a three-month shoot. All the pieces fit,” says Pinkett Smith, whose Christina Hawthorne is a hospital nursing director.
“Most medical dramas focus on doctors; this is about nurses,” she says. “There’s also comic relief, but it’s quirky.”
Pinkett Smith said she was drawn to the series by producer Jamie Tarses and creator John Masius, who wrote for St. Elsewhere.
St. Elsewhere was a very good show. I’m looking forward to watching Hawthorne which premieres on June 16.
Emmy award winning actress Bea Arthur passed away last Saturday. The 86 year old actress died of cancer.
Bea starred in the groundbreaking 70’s series Maude. I own season one of Maude. It was a great show. I was a youngster when Maude made it’s debut yet I’m surprised my mom let me watch the show. It was very controversial. My mom was such a huge fan of All In The Family that she probably didn’t mind having me watch Maude. Maude was a spinoff of All In The Family and it was produced by Norman Lear who also produced All In The Family, Good Times, Sanford & Son, One Day At A Time and The Jeffersons. All shows that I have enjoyed.
Bea won two Emmy Awards. She won for Maude in 1977 and for The Golden Girls in 1988.
Bea Arthur, Star of Two TV Comedies, Dies at 86
By BRUCE WEBER
Bea Arthur, who used her husky voice, commanding stature and flair for the comic jab to create two of the most endearing battle-axes in television history, Maude Findlay in the groundbreaking situation comedy “Maude” and Dorothy Zbornak in “The Golden Girls,” died Saturday at her home in Los Angeles. She was coy about her age, and sources give various dates for her birth, but a family spokesman, Dan Watt, said in an e-mail message she was 86.
The cause was cancer, Mr. Watt said.
Ms. Arthur received 11 Emmy Award nominations, winning twice — in 1977 for “Maude” and in 1988 for “The Golden Girls.”
She was a seasoned and accomplished theater actress and singer before she became a television star and a celebrity in midcareer, and she won a Tony Award in 1966 for playing Angela Lansbury’s best friend, the drunken actress Vera Charles, in “Mame.”
But while she was successful on stage, on television she made history. “Maude,” which was created by Norman Lear as a spinoff from “All in the Family,” was broadcast on CBS during the most turbulent years of the women’s movement, from 1972-78, and in the person of its central character, it offered feminism less as a cause than as an entertainment.
Maude Findlay was a woman in her 40s living in the suburbs with her fourth husband, Walter (played by Bill Macy), her divorced daughter, Carol (Adrienne Barbeau), and a grandson. An unabashed liberal, a bit of a loudmouth and a tough broad with a soft heart, she was, in the parlance of the time, a liberated woman, who sometimes got herself into trouble with boilerplate biases just the way her cultural opposite number, Archie Bunker, did. She was given a formidable physicality by Ms. Arthur, who was 5 feet 9 ½ inches and spoke in a distinctively brassy contralto.
The show was considered a sitcom, but like “All in the Family,” it used comedy to take on serious personal issues and thorny social ones — alcoholism, drugs, infidelity.
“We tackled everything except hemorrhoids,” Ms. Arthur said, sounding much like Maude, in a 2001 interview with the Archive of American Television, a collection of video oral histories compiled by the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences.
In the show’s first season, Maude, at the age of 47, learned she was pregnant; her distress was evident.
“Mother, what’s wrong? You’ve got to share this with me,” Carol says. Maude’s response is typical, with barbs aimed both inward and outward, delivered by Ms. Arthur with a flash of simultaneous anger, despair and humor: “Honey, I’d give anything to share it with you.”
The two-part episode was broadcast in November 1972, two months before Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court case that made abortion legal nationwide, was decided. By the episode’s conclusion, Maude, who lived in Westchester County in New York, where abortion was already permitted, had chosen to end the pregnancy. Two CBS affiliates refused to broadcast the program, and Ms. Arthur received a shower of angry mail.
“The reaction really knocked me for a loop,” she recalled in a 1978 interview in The New York Times. “I really hadn’t thought about the abortion issue one way or the other. The only thing we concerned ourselves with was: Was the show good? We thought we did it brilliantly; we were so very proud of not copping out with it.”
“The Golden Girls,” an immensely popular show that was broadcast on NBC from 1985-92 and can still be seen daily in reruns, broke ground in another way. Created by Susan Harris (who wrote the “Maude” abortion episode), it focused on four previously married women sharing a house in Miami, and with its emphasis on decidedly older characters, it ran counter to the conventional wisdom that youthful sex appeal was the key to ratings success.
RIP Bea Arthur.
The Baltimore Sun has an interesting article about actress, writer and stand-up comedian Aisha Tyler who’s on tour to promote her new DVD, Aisha Tyler: Is Lit: Live at the Fillmore. She’s been in D.C. at the D.C. Improv Comedy Club since Thursday and tonight is her last night.
Aisha Tyler performs at DC Improv Comedy Club
Actress and comedian’s accomplishments run the gamut
By Sam Sessa
April 9, 2009
Actress and comedian Aisha Tyler has set several records – some serious and others silly – in her budding career.
First, the notable: Tyler was the first black female host of the celebrity-gossip TV show Talk Soup and played the first recurring black female character on the smash-hit sitcom Friends.
Now, the wacky: Tyler, an avid gamer, was both the first female and the first black American to earn a spot on the exclusive seven-member Halo Council, a group of video game fanatics. And she jokingly contends that for years, she was the only black female snowboarder in the history of the sport.
“I’m quite confident I was the only African-American female snowboarder in the world,” she said. “I’m sure I’ve been surpassed by now.”
At the moment, Tyler is taking time off from acting – and snowboarding – to focus on her stand-up act. She performs Thursday, Friday and Saturday at the DC Improv Comedy Club in Washington in support of her new DVD, Aisha Tyler: Is Lit: Live at the Fillmore.
At 38, Tyler is a true renaissance woman. She has written for magazines such as Glamour and Jane and, in 2004, published a book titled Swerve: A Guide to the Sweet Life for Postmodern Girls.
A San Francisco native, Tyler was 10 when her parents split up. She was raised by her father and went to Dartmouth College. After a short stint at a California advertising firm, she decided to pursue stand-up comedy.
Her comedy tour stretches through early August and takes her across the country, up to Canada and back down to the U.S.
You can read the entire article here.
I’ve been a long time fan of Aisha’s. I like that she’s different and her own person. I use to watch her on Ghost Whisperer until they killed off her character. I stopped watching the show after that.
Check out Aisha’s writing at the Huffington Post.