TruthIsI: Thank you Jenifer for taking time with us today. I love your role in films such as: “What’s Love Got To Do With It,” “The Brothers,” “Madea’s Family Reunion,” “Meet the Browns,” and so many more. You have a cameo role in an upcoming film titled "Hereafter." What was it like working with Clint Eastwood as the Director?
JL: Clint Eastwood is an icon and a legend. He did not present that to me when I stepped on the set. He presented a very classy, warm, and easy going guy. He has an ability to put actors at ease. He trusts the artist. That’s really important, because when you feel like they trust you, then you can relax and do your job. I will say this and I rarely say it, I was very proud of my work in this film, because I was allowed the space and the room to create.
TruthIsI: As you know, S.T.A.R. Foundation mentors to female high school aged youth regarding respect and healthy living (which incorporates HIV & STD prevention). We hear a lot of our youth stating that they want to be an actress, singer, dancer, (working in the entertainment industry), etc. Some of our youth feel that they may need to compromise their morals, ethics, or physical appearance to do so. What advice would you give to our young ladies who think this way? What advice would you give to girls to access their inner strength and tap into their “girl power?”
JL: A lot of times, I don’t want to say anything to these girls. I want to just listen to what they have to say, because sometimes that’s how they got where they are ... no one would listen to them.
Tell them to get their education. I went and studied acting and that’s why I’ve been so successful at it. I trained first! I’m able to do comedy, television, theater, and film. They can become diverse when they honor the true self. If you really want to be an artist, then the journey is within to become that; it’s not what you do, but it’s who you are doing it.
TruthIsI: I heard that you had “humble” beginnings. During your earlier years, you weren’t always in the best financial situations. Can you shed a little light on that, and encourage those who find themselves in similar predicaments? They feel that life, as they know it, is “over” and can’t get any better …
JL: When you look in the mirror, you have to want more. But then you have to have the courage and the strength to work for it. You have to take steps. The elevator to success is broken. You have to experience by experience and build a foundation to stand on.
The main focus has to be what really makes you happy! You can’t be happy unless you’re healthy! Take care of yourself.
We’re living in a world where everything is at our disposal; it’s right there. Leave the excuses at home!
Get up everyday and go for it! Everyday put a smile on your face when you wake up. Put a smile on your face whether anything is funny or not (smile anyway) … I dare you to do it, and see that your day don’t go better. It’s day-by-day and step-by-step. It’s not trying to get to the end, it’s the journey itself. And, it is a long and winding road, but go on and go down there anyway.
Just go for whatever it is that you love. The ticket is what makes you happy, and do whatever it is in your power to be able to do that. Don’t have so much pride that you can’t take a job at McDonald’s in order to get a ticket to somewhere you want to go.
TruthIsI: About Jenifer the actress, what is your most memorable role to date and why?
JL: What’s Love Got to Do With It … I was very focused in the role. I did a considerable amount of work on the role, and I think the results were really wonderful. I don’t say it often, but I was very proud of that performance, and the other one would be “Jackie’s Back” … that made me happy too. It was the first movie I starred in, and it was my own movie. It was really funny … it made me very happy!
TruthIsI: “What’s Love Go To Do With It” was not a comedy, but you made people laugh regardless. You were hilarious in the film …
JL: That humor comes from reality. You know, the truth is funny. We all have a mother or aunt that talks like that ... “I’m the only sinner in this house.” That’s when people really fell in love with me, because I reminded them of somebody that was in their family. You know the role on Fresh Prince, and playing Tupac’s mother … I’m the black mother of Hollywood.
TruthIsI: You portray both on/off screen to be a strong woman. What do you admire most about yourself as a woman and why?
JL: Well, that I stopped pointing the finger. When I learned to point the finger at myself and take responsibility for my own choices in life; that was when I began to start to love and respect myself. You have to look in the mirror and say, “I made that choice, now let me take responsibility for it.” Deal with the consequences, feel the feelings and keep it moving! Let me tell you something … the sun is going to rise in the morning and it’s going to set in the evening without making a sound. Now what you do in between that time … what you do in between all that glory and majesty is your business.
TruthIsI: Now, about the cause: Do you know anyone close to you who has died of AIDS? What has your experience or outreach been in the community with this issue?
JL: Jesus yes! I’m at an AIDS fundraising benefit at least every two months. I’m a major advocate for HIV/AIDS and breast cancer … finding a cure.
Young ladies, respect yourselves. Look in the mirror and say: I don’t want to throw my body away today; I’m beautiful! I don’t need someone else to tell me I’m beautiful. Even if I don’t think my hair looks good today, I’m still a beautiful person! I’m important. I’m special. I’m needed. People honor me. Even if my hair doesn’t look good today, I’m still beautiful inside. I don’t want to hurt myself!
TruthIsI: Thank you so much Jenifer and thank you for your support!
|Jenifer Lewis & Matt Damon in Hereafter|