Could you shed some light about your pilot with Tia Mowry?
The pilot with Tia Mowry's called Instant Mom and she's a real, real party girl who marries a doctor and inherits three children, all kind of by accident because the mother had the kids but then again her mother gets sick so she leaves to take care of her mother and she ends up with the kids. And I end up a mother with a daughter who has children because of course I am glamorous, I will never be grandmother.
Do you think the American public is still having trouble with accepting a TV show with a musical concept like SMASH?
I think that it's just one of those things that is always evolving. Musicals have been around since the beginning of time. Musicals are not going anywhere and I think as you see how musicals especially the kind that we've been seeing televised have grown and have changed, this particular show is like you just said, taking it another step forward for the greater good. I love it. It's serialized. I love the characters. Every now and then though I look at something and I say, "I don't know if that would really happen," you know, what's going on with that director and the girl and they meet on the street. I said, "I wonder would that really happen." But I love it for the drama of it all.
You've been on several sets, on TV, movies and on the stage, how does the SMASH set differ from all of those? What makes SMASH stand out for you?
First of all it was great to be there. It was great to know that there were so many little - well okay let's put it this way, in L.A. you walk into these sparkling stages that have their own ghost and all of that but we were literally shooting in a tricked out warehouse in Queens and I was like oh my goodness. If you would drive by this building you would never know all of that magic was taking place inside of those doors. So I was just like oh my goodness. That was the one thing. The next thing would be the hours. I mean, it was like - it was an intense schedule, a really intense schedule and it was all day baby. But I did love it. It felt good. It was like a hot shot of adrenaline and then you got to sing too. Oh it was great. Great wardrobe, great set, great songs, great cast. I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed it so very much.
Are you still involved in theater?
I would love to be involved in theater much, much more but there seems to be lesser and lesser roles for woman of color and that has been a great challenge because sometimes I feel like I'm being shut out of an industry that I absolutely love because there just seems to be a lack of roles unless there's a specialty piece of theater developed and that's hard.
With such a successful career in stage, television, music, what advice would you give someone who wants to follow their dream?
You know what, I've got to tell you I graduated from Rutgers University and we now are home to one of the leading theater arts programs in the country in the Mason Gross School of the Arts and I was one of the first students there for that. And part of my whole learning experience I reached out to every theater festival there was. I did as much acting as I possibly could have. I got into some of the best classes that I could find.
I'll never forget winning the Irene Ryan Theater Festival Award for acting and I write about that in my book Redefining Diva, about what it was like as a young person going Out There trying to pursue your dreams. And it's not always easy because there's so often a lot of people around you want to tell you why you should not pursue your dream. So it sometimes takes a great deal of heart to go for it, to try, to practice, to learn, to discover new things. So I say if you can do that as a young person that's what's going to give you the foundation you're going to need to carry on in this business because this can be a lowdown rough business baby and it is not for the faint of heart.
Why do you feel you play such strong motherly roles over your career?
I think because I've had an excellent example of a mother in my life and it's not just a mother as mentor, female mentors in my life. I often write in my book Redefining Diva the women that came before me were so wonderful in sharing what they had learned with me that it just - oh it just helped me in ways that I see coming true now about holding on in times of disappointment, celebrating in times of true happiness. Those are learned things. Those are learned choices, the choice to be happy no matter what is going on. I have a great mother in my own mother, a strong West Indian woman, Jamaican to be exact, and I had an incredible grandmother from the south. Both sides of my family were full of the most incredible women. So I really think my ideals of motherhood come from the mothers that have been placed in my life.
I'm sure most of your scenes are with Jennifer Hudson on SMASH but was there anybody else you got to share a scene with that you particularly enjoyed?
Megan Hilty! Megan and I worked together before on a workshop musical called It's On and we had such a ball working together. And when I got to the set she was like, "Oh my God are we going to get to do this musical together?" So she and I are really hoping that the musical goes and who knows, in her hiatus we might be able get that musical on its feet. We had such a ball so it was great to see her and work with her even if it was just a little bit.
Do you think SMASH will help rejuvenate people's interest in going out to the theater more, being that it's on TV?
Absolutely. People love the theater. They love the theater. So I think this is absolutely bringing more interest to the show. And I look forward to the next thing will be SMASH the musical on Broadway.
You never know.
Oh baby, stranger things have happened but I can tell you I would BET on that!
On tonight's episode of SMASH titled 'The Song', Derek (Jack Davenport) calls in help for a special event, but Jimmy's (Jeremy Jordan) pride might get in the way of a huge opportunity Karen (Katharine McPhee) orchestrates for him and Kyle (Andy Mientus). Peter (guest star Daniel Sunjata) challenges Julia's (Debra Messing) pride as they continue to work together. Meanwhile, Ronnie (guest star Jennifer Hudson) struggles to assert her independence from a powerful mother (guest star Sheryl Lee Ralph), as Eileen (Anjelica Huston) finds herself at a moral crossroads with huge ramifications for "Bombshell." Christian Borle and Megan Hilty also star. Jennifer Hudson, Sheryl Lee Ralph and Daniel Sunjata guest star.
The episode airs tonight, February 26 at 10 PM on NBC.
Photo credit: Will Hart/NBC
Caryn Robbins is a features editor for BroadwayWorld, covering TV, flm and the best of Broadway theater. |