*It’s been more than two decades since Lynn Whitfield famously sashayed half-naked in one of her numerous standout made-for-TV movies, “The Josephine Baker Story.” On Saturday (Aug. 25), the veteran actress returns to the small screen – this time as a dying mother of 37-year-old twin sons in the GMC original movie, “Somebody’s Child.”
“It was a very interesting invitation [to play the role] because these were very large sons,” Whitfield, 59, said at the recent TCA press tour.
One of them, Douglas, is played by strapping actor Michael Jai White. The story unfolds after Whitfield’s character Constance Rivers and Douglas open their hearts to an ex-convict named Benjamin Sparks (Byron Minns). Facing a losing battle with kidney failure, Constance reveals on her death bed that Douglas and Benjamin are actually fraternal twin brothers who were separated at birth – setting off a mix of anger and resentment among the brothers.
Whitfield says her role is a far cry from Josephine Baker.
“Hailing from swinging in a banana skirt topless to being this grandmama and mother and sick and dying, what I did was…I had to find a way to map out this character, and what I decided was that my road map was love,” she said. “So just to love these people and to have dignity in the light of crisis, once I saw that there was something I could work on, the exercise as the actor, that actually I could enliven something and really bring it to the screen and make it believable, then I accepted the invitation.”
Since “Josephine Baker,” Whitfield has starred in nearly two dozen TV movies, from “The Women of Brewster Place” to Disney’s “The Cheetah Girls”; not to mention scores of feature films – most notably “Eve’s Bayou” and “A Thin Line Between Love and Hate.”
Below, the actress tells us why television is her preferred acting venue these days.
“Somebody’s Child” Premieres Saturday, Aug. 25 at 7, 9 and 11 p.m. and again on Sunday, Aug. 26 at 7, 9 and 11 p.m. Watch the trailer below.