Rutina Wesley

*Actress Rutina Wesley is surprised that she’s recognized by people wherever she goes in the world. No surprise here, as she’s one of the stars on the red-hot HBO series “True Blood.” Playing Tara Thornton, the no nonsense ‘reality chick” who along with her best friend Sookie Stackhouse, navigates the crazy vampire town Bon Temps, Louisiana, Wesley is on the verge of becoming a household name.

The daughter of a Las Vegas tap dancer and showgirl, Rutina grew up with show business in her blood. After attending  the Las Vegas Academy of International Studies, Performing and Visual Arts, she went on to the prestigious Julliard School, before making her acting debut in the David Hare‘s Broadway play The Vertical Hour, directed by Sam Mendes, alongside Julianne Moore and Bill Nighy.  In 2007, the actress made her feature film debut as the star of the Paramount film, “How She Moved,” before scoring her role on “True Blood”.

The Robertson Treatment caught up with Rutina to talk about her rising star and to get the scope about “True Blood’s new season.

Robertson Treatment: What makes “True Blood” so popular?

Rutina Wesley: It’s reality meets fantasy. That means anything can happen at any time. And that creates the drama and the comedy, and, sometimes, the ridiculousness of it all. Sometimes it’s like, Really? Am I watching what I think I’m watching? Yes, you’re watching an orgy in the middle of the woods and people are really enjoying themselves. And people can’t help but just watch

RT: What can we expect from your character this season?

RW: Tara goes on an incredible journey this year.  Alan Ball has said that this season is all about identity – finding who you are, maybe even WHAT you are, and how you fit into this world.  Tara is, above all, a survivor – so you’ll get to see her continue to fight for survival and find her way. She’s a little unstable right now because of everything that happened to her at the end of Season 2, so she’s got quite a journey ahead of her and hopefully she’ll realize that she has value and can love herself.

RT: Do you feel your character represents a departure for an African American actor?

RW: I think it would be easy to see her as the ‘angry black woman’/best friend but she is so far from some of the African American stereotypes we’ve seen on television.  Yes, she speaks her mind and is affirmative but she’s also very smart and underneath it all there is humanity and vulnerability.  She’s a little girl who’s like everyone else and seeks love and validation, even if sometimes she looks for it in the wrong places.  I think of her as the truth on the show…she’s the human reacting to all these supernatural creatures as any human would react if this were real life and not television. And finally, she is an African American woman living in a small town – some of my favorite scenes were the scenes in Season 1 where Tara would confront the racial stereotypes and not let bigotry go unnoticed.

RT: What’s the fascination with the vampires, werewolves and the occult?

RW: I think it’s a lot of fun and people enjoy being taken out of reality and escaping to this fantasyland that Alan Ball has created.  I think humans living and interacting with these supernatural beings makes for good drama… It’s reality meets fantasy and anything and everything is possible. There’s a freedom that I think we love because we don’t always get to be as free in real life…I know I enjoy getting to play it!

RT: What other projects are you working on?

RW: Just working on finishing up filming Season 3 – this season has been so demanding, I can’t think of anything beyond what I’m filming the next day!

BEST BETS: MUSIC

“South Africa” – (Putamayo World Music)

Just in time for the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, the Putamayo label celebrates this nation’s rich culture with an impressive compilation, “South Africa” that perfectly captures an amazing array of music diversity. Featuring tracks by music legends, Miriam Makeba, the Soul Brothers and the Soweto Choir, alongside newer acts likes Mahube and Blk Sonshine, the CD will offer music lovers with a great celebration of this unique country.

Grade: B+

AUTOMOTIVE SPIN

2010 Mercury Milan Hybrid

As consumers grow more accepting of green technologies, Mercury is right on time with their 2010 Milan Hybrid. Impressive to look at and drive, the Milan’s improved hybrid technology provides a fine example of why today’s drivers can remain confident. This ride is smart, sexy and offers an overall solid driving experience.

Wow Factor: Drivers will become totally infatuated with Ford’s key cabin technologies – the Sync and Sirius Travel Link systems that shows traffic congestion and incidents on nearby freeways, but also weather conditions. For my drive, this feature was especially on the mark and certainly added to my driving experience.

Ride: One of the biggest challenges with hybrid vehicles is the somewhat jagged way in which they transition from gas to electric and back again. The Milan thankfully overcomes this challenge with smooth transitions, coupled with a strong and consistent energy feel.

Comfort: The Milan features an attractive interior design of soft-touch materials and convenient controls that really enhance your on-the-road experience. Another plus is the SYNC voice-activated infotainment system and the Smart Gauge interface, which coaches drivers toward fuel-efficient behaviors.

Spin Control: With a base price starting at around $34,000 and a solid fuel efficiency ranked at between 34 & 47 mpg in the city and 31 to 41 mpg on the highway, the Milan is an attractive ride that will appeal to various driving demos. It’s smart, sexy and reliable – a triple threat combination for any ride.

Grade: B

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