Academy Award-nominated and Emmy Award-winning actor Alfre Woodard sat down with The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk in the latest episode of “At Home With The Creative Coalition,” a podcast featuring unplugged and uncensored conversations with today’s biggest stars. In the newest episode, Woodard opens up about art, activism, being a Black actor in Hollywood, and more. Highlights below.
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At Home With The Creative Coalition: Alfre Woodard: Don’t Fight The Butterflies on Apple Podcasts
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Highlights from “At Home With The Creative Coalition” featuring Alfre Woodard —
On her experience as a Black woman when she first started in the entertainment industry:
“There are some people you could lock them at the bottom of the ocean in a trunk with a chain around it, and they will still find a way to shine. They’ll still find a way to bring their gifts forward. That’s the legacy of my generation, the generations before me. So part of that, the way I was raised, was if I said to my father, ‘Oh, well I’m going to run for Secretary of Sergeant Arms because there’s a guy that’s going to run for president, or there’s a white guy that’s gonna try to be the head of this,’ he’d say, ‘Well then, you’re just going to have to figure out a way around him, huh?’ Whatever you wanted, you could get it. So I did well when I went in, and people would say things to me like, ‘You know, we’re looking for an attractive young Black woman.’ Or, ‘We’re looking for a cute Black girl.’ And those were people who were my reps saying stuff like that to me! And it’s like you didn’t take it personally. It’s like, ‘Okay, how am I going to get what I want? How am I going to do it?’ And one of the things you learn in the south, especially as a woman and, particularly, as a woman of color and a Black woman is you know how to read people […] So I’m not worried about all the opportunities I don’t get. I’m not worried about what Meryl, and Sigourney, and Michelle and everybody else is. If I carried that kind of load on me, I would be bitter, I’d have wrinkles. Nothing is going to take away the freedom of expression I have when I work.”
On being told she looked “too African”:
“I couldn’t even get a commercial agent. Everybody would tell me that I looked too African back then. And one of the funniest things is that I’m probably the only person over 60 or even 55 who was in Hollywood at the time who wasn’t in ‘Roots.’ But I got told I looked like an African instead of an African American. They said that’s why I wasn’t working.”
On why she uses her voice to advocate for causes she believes in:
“It’s a choice, in a way, because everybody can make the choice every day. But it’s not a choice for me also because of the way I was raised. It’s like if I know how to speak a language, I’ve got to work not to speak or think in that language. And the language that I was raised in is that inextricability of peoples. My parents raised me that way.”
On the moment while shooting “Desperate Housewives” that left her co-star Mehcad Brooks thunderstruck:
“I don’t want to talk about Betty Applewhite and ‘Desperate Housewives’… I got told by a director there — very early on, and it was when Mehcad [Brooks] and were in a scene. We had this scene, there’s a ‘for sale’ sign outside, and we — it was our first scene together […] The director said, ‘Don’t look around, don’t look at each other. Just both of you keep your eyes on the ‘for sale’ sign and just say the words, say the whole thing this time.’ And I said to him, ‘So why are we, what’s our intention? What should we be thinking when we’re looking at that sign?’ He said, ‘Try not to think anything and that way I can use it wherever I want to.’ And I said, ‘Okay.’ And then Mehcad was thunderstruck. He was a trained actor, and it was his first big thing. I said, ‘Frankly, you know what? Ef it. It’s their time.’”
More about “At Home With The Creative Coalition”
Hosted by The Creative Coalition CEO Robin Bronk, “At Home With The Creative Coalition” brings listeners intimate portraits, key moments of discovery, and “art and soul” conversations with iconic entertainment industry personalities from the big screen to the boardroom, from L.A. to D.C. Listen now at http://thecreativecoalition.org/podcast.
Upcoming guests include Griffin Dunne (“This Is Us,” “Dallas Buyers Club”), Willie Garson (“Hawaii Five-0,” “White Collar”), New York Times Bestselling Author Susan Isaacs (“Compromising Positions,” “Takes One to Know One”), Eric McCormack (“Will & Grace,” “Travelers”), Haley Joel Osment (“Future Man,” “Entourage”), Yolonda Ross (“The Chi,” “How to Get Away with Murder”), Reid Scott (“Why Women Kill,” “Veep”), Matt Walsh (“Veep,” “UCB Comedy Originals”), and Constance Zimmer (“Condor,” “UnREAL”).
Previous guests include Jason Alexander (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Harley Quinn,” “Saturday Night Seder”), David Alan Basche (“The Exes,” “United 93”), Asante Blackk (“This Is Us,” “When They See Us”), Carly Chaikin (“Mr. Robot”), Wilson Cruz (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “My So-Called Life”), Alan Cumming (“Briarpatch,” “Instinct,” “The Good Wife”), The Creative Coalition President and actor Tim Daly (“Madam Secretary”), Lea DeLaria (“Orange Is the New Black”), Jim Gaffigan (“Tesla,” “The Jim Gaffigan Show”), Judy Gold (“The Other F Word,” “Nightcap”), Clark Gregg (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” “The Avengers”), Jason Isaacs (“The OA,” “Star Trek: Discovery,” “Harry Potter”), Richard Kind (“Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Big Mouth,” “Gotham”), Chad Lowe (“Supergirl,” “Life in Pieces,” “Pretty Little Liars”), AnnaLynne McCord (“Nip/Tuck,” “90210”), Wendi McLendon-Covey (“The Goldbergs,” “Reno 911!”), Katherine McNamara (“Shadowhunters,” “Arrow”), Rob Morrow (“Billions,” “The Fosters”), Kathy Najimy (“Hocus Pocus,” “Sister Act”), Bill Prady (“The Big Bang Theory,” “Young Sheldon,” “The Muppets”), Jessica Queller (“Supergirl,” “Gossip Girl”), Anthony Rapp (“Star Trek: Discovery,” “Rent”), Alysia Reiner (“Better Things,” “Orange Is the New Black”), and Julie Taymor (“The Lion King,” “Frida,” “The Glorias”).
More about The Creative Coalition
The Creative Coalition is the premier nonprofit, nonpartisan 501(c)(3) social and public advocacy organization of the arts and entertainment community. Founded in 1989 by prominent members of the creative community, The Creative Coalition is dedicated to educating its members on issues of public importance. Actor Tim Daly serves as the organization’s President. The Creative Coalition also creates award-winning public service campaigns including #RightToBearArts to promote the efficacy of the arts. For more information, visit https://thecreativecoalition.org.