[INTERVIEW] Phylicia Rashad: A Director's Life<br />

[INTERVIEW] Phylicia Rashad: A Director's Life

Our favorite TV mom talks new projects, her daughter, and tolerance for contemporary television

by Sergio Mims, June 27, 2012

[INTERVIEW] Phylicia Rashad: A Director's Life<br />

Show watching us put it together and work. She watched my sister Debbie work. She was exposed to my sister’s academy as a pre-teen and that was all about work. She’s always been involved in a work ethic, in a work level and that has been of great interest and joy to her. She enjoys working.

EBONY: And what was it like to finally work with her on that Lifetime Channel remake of Steel Magnolia coming out soon?

RASHAD: It was beautiful. It was absolutely beautiful. It was beautiful to see her so natural and so free. To see her so comfortable and to see her holding it down— and earning that respect from everybody.

EBONY  Was it always in the back of your mind that maybe one day you would have a chance to work with her on a project?

RASHAD: No. What was in the back of my mind was something else she said as a little girl. She said: “Mommy, when I grow up we’ll be best friends and laugh all the time.” That’s what she said.

EBONY: Talking about acting, do you prefer acting on the stage or in film or TV?

RASHAD: It’s all the same to me, it’s acting. It is what it is. You have to prepare. You have to prepare or decide to prepare the same way though the methods may be different. But what I do love about the theater is the time that you have to rehearse.

EBONY: Have you even done anything where you say to yourself, “That was great, I can’t do it any better than that!”?

RASHAD: No, no. It’s always in the back of my mind, “It could be better.”

EBONY: I guess I can’t avoid bringing up The Cosby Show, but let me put it in this way: there’s never been another TV show that has come close to replacing it after all these years. Everything has gotten louder, cruder and more stereotyped. Is that a conspiracy or a reflection of society today?

RASHAD: It’s a lack of imagination and understanding.

EBONY: But you can argue that always been the case about television or movies.

RASHAD:  It’s a lack of imagination and understanding. With imagination and understanding things are different.

EBONY: And you are tolerant about TV today?

RASHAD: I believe that [TV]  is beginning to change. I think it’s getting ready to shift, I had a talk with Brandon Tartikoff (the late head of NBC programming during the 1980’s) about the time when The Cosby Show was coming to its conclusion and he said: “It’s getting bad, he was talking about the state of television, and it’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.” He told me that years ago and he was very right.

There are some wonderful things on television right now. I love Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire, Scandal, Luther. Wonderful things on television and wonderful things coming up too. It’s not done yet.  This stuff comes in waves. There was a time when I couldn’t watch sitcoms for a while because it was just cacophony, it was just noise.

EBONY: My theory is that a lot of bad TV and movies today are created by people who haven’t lived a life where they gone out and seen the world, had other types of jobs and met other kinds of people. John Huston had been a boxer, a soldier in the Mexican army and a screenwriter before directing films, Victor Fleming, who directed Gone with the Wind, had been a car mechanic, for example.

RASHAD: It’s a lack of imagination and understanding. But you know what? People do what they know to do and they do the best they can. People are just doing what they can. Things have a way of moving to the left, and then they move back to the right before somebody finds themselves in the center. That seems to be the nature of the creative world. It’s not stagnant. I don’t get upset about it.

So if there something worth watching on television and I have time to watch it and I’ve competed my tasks, I can get myself to that. If there’s nothing to watch; I know how to entertain myself. I don’t have to get upset about it. If there are no films or plays of interest to me, I don’t go.  I know how to go to a museum or a library or pick up a good magazine or I can watch the sun set. I know how to live. There’s a whole creation out there full of magic and wonder to be explored. And besides that I have good friends I can sit down with a glass of water and laugh.

EBONY: Glass of water?  You mean wine…

RASHAD: No water! (laughs)

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