Friday, May 6, 2011
ANGELA BASSETT ON MOTHERHOOD AND CAREER
Love is all we need. It’s a mantra that many abide by — myself included. It also lies at the core of Sony Pictures’ latest romantic comedy, Jumping the Broom. Starring Laz Alonso as Jason Taylor, Paula Patton as Sabrina Watson, and a host of other Hollywood favorites, the film focuses on the ability of love to overcome obstacles, and in this case lead soul mates Taylor and Watson down the aisle and into wedded bliss.
While Alonso and Patton rightfully receive top billing as the film’s main stars, none of this would even be possible had it not been for the presence and participation of Angela Bassett. With Hollywood’s reluctance to place any major money behind black films not helmed by Tyler Perry, the producers for Jumping the Broom were compelled to operate on a shoestring budget. With limited resources, their only hope was to convince a major star to sign on for peanuts and pray the tactic would entice other stars to do the same.
Enter Bassett, stage left.
Once she reduced her rate and was officially on board, the floodgates flew open. Soon after Bassett came on board, Loretta Devine, Mike Epps, DeRay Davis, Tasha Smith, Meagan Good and Pooch Hall all agreed to do the same for the sake of completing the project. As my old basketball coach would say, “teamwork made the dream work.”
But that type of sacrifice for the sake of success isn’t new to Bassett. As a devoted wife, and the proud mother of two, Bassett’s life is buoyed by the principles of faith, love and sacrifice — three elements that were absolutely necessary to make Jumping the Broom work.
During a recent visit to Beverly Hills, we sat down with Bassett to explore those themes and the importance they play in defining who she is in her most critical roles — wife, mother and artist.
Excellent work in Jumping the Broom. Are you excited to see this type of film come out without it being tied to Tyler Perry?
I don’t think I looked at it that way. I just saw a really good script that I fell in love with. Once the great script was in place, I was committed to doing this movie and making it the best that it could be.
Most would consider this to be a faith-based film considering T.D. Jakes’ attachment to it. Do you look at it in that light?
No I wouldn’t. Salim [director Salim Akil] didn’t concentrate on that while we were making it. Of course, if you are person of faith, then you can draw things from the film. But it wasn’t a church movie. The characters, however, do have a faith in God, and God’s ability to lead them to that mate. So there definitely is an element of the film that possesses that … it was the characters’ desire to be patient until they found someone to share their life with.
What are your thoughts on the power of love, and its ability to conquer all?
Love will take us through. I think that love and good sense are extremely important. When I got married, I was all in love, but then came life intruding in, and sometimes it’s difficult. I even asked that question during my first year of marriage. I would look at my husband [actor Courtney Vance] and ask, ‘did we do it too quickly?’ Those words seriously came out of my mouth, so I was beginning to doubt. But my husband was strong in his resolve. He kept reminding me that people go through this, and that we were going to be OK. Life was never going to be flowers and butterflies the whole time, and so we used love and commitment to conquer all that stood in front of us.
So you were a pessimist?
No, I’d like to think I’m more of a realistic optimist … or an idealistic optimist. I really try to be optimistic about life. Some trials can be really heavy, but that’s why you have the two of you. And you have to work it back and forth. Sometimes it’s on me to be the strong one.
Describe the moment when you knew that you had found the one.
I just had a sense of peace. There were no questions in my mind or heart. I just looked at him and knew that he was a kind person whose core burned pure. Now he makes mistakes and so do I, but I always try to do the right thing and I feel like I’ve found someone who tries to as well. And it doesn’t hurt that he’s really cute too.
What else attracts you to your husband?
Well, I think his heart is in the right place when it comes to me. And I honestly believe that he sees me and is interested in me, and not just what I do. Because I’m not always acting. Sometimes I have to let my guard down and be vulnerable. He sees that and still accepts me.
I just shot a pilot for a show called “Identity” and the premise is that inside of each of us, there is more than one of us. So you might look at me and see this face and it looks like I’m happy, but moments before I arrived here, I could have been at home crying my eyes out. All of that is to say that I have different moments where I could be experiencing indecision, doubt or whatever, but through it all he still accepts and loves me.
Let’s talk about motherhood. We’ve talked about the bond between husband and wife, but describe the bond between you and your children.
I feel like a lioness. I was up with them this morning, and they asked me to sit in between them. So I sat in the middle and they buried their heads into me, and we just had such a special moment. I’m the one they do that with … now, they could do it with their dad, but he’s more of the disciplinarian. So I just enjoy those moments. I really try my best to encourage them to love each other and be there for each other. And I just pray that they take the lessons that we try to instill in them, and just try to be better people. I always tell them to leave places better than how they found them. That’s what I try to do in my own life, and that’s the one thing that I hope they always strive to do … I want them to leave this world better than they found it.