*Award-winning actress Lynn Whitfield is a busy bee these days.
She has two major projects brewing, one of which is in progress, and the other happens this Friday, April 26.
In “My Brother Marvin,” a stage play that explores the family drama of legendary crooner Marvin Gaye, Ms. Whitfiled plays the role of the matriarch (Alberta Gaye). The production, even its name, originates from a book of memoirs written by the singers’ baby sister (Zeola Gaye). Currently, Whitflied is on the second leg of the tour, which features and ensemble cast of seasoned performers, including the play’s director (Clifton Powell)
On the flip side, select theaters across the country will soon feature Whitflied’s new film, “King’s Faith.” It tells the story of a wayward 18-year-old, Brendan King (played by Crawford Wilson), who finds a home away from the streets when he’s adopted by a grieving mother and her husband (played by Whitfield and James McDaniel). The release date falls this weekend, in time for May—National Foster Care Month.
During a recent interview with EURweb’s Lee Bailey, the gorgeous 59-year-old (05-06-53) polished veteran opened up about playing the role of a mom twice over, as well as her thoughts on the significance of both projects.
What was appealing to you about the role of Alberta Gaye and the overall tone of the play, “My Brother Marvin?”
Who doesn’t love Marvin Gaye? He is the foremost American Icon musically and internationally. All of his music is still expressed today as it was when he first did it which of course makes him a bona fide classic and iconic person. I was just thrilled to be part of it, and it’s been a pleasure bringing his mother’s spirit to life on stage.
In your own words, what kind of relationship did Marvin have with his mother?
At the forefront of the family’s issues is addiction. Alberta was a woman who brought piece to the family and really wanted to keep her family together but almost at any cost. In one way she’s an angel and in another she’s what they call an enabler.
How did you prepare for the role?
I called upon things that I know from my own family and from other families. We’ve lost so many iconic entertainers to addictions and the pressures of being in the world of entertainment and music. I was able to put myself in the position of those family members, though I haven’t experienced it at that level myself. Who doesn’t love their kids, you know?
Did you ever get a chance to meet Marvin?
“I saw him perform once but I never met him. He, Marilyn Monroe and Jackie Kennedy—they are the ones where its like “oh my god!” “How did I not meet these people?”
What are your thoughts on Zeola Gaye’s memoirs?
Zeola was there all along. She knew his [Marvin] mother and father and saw him as a teenager growing up.Through his two marriages and into the end of his life Zeloa was there. So her memoirs are really interesting from that perspective. It’s a real family persons’ view of his life.
Are you doing any singing in the play?
I’ll be doing a wee bit of a little ditty (she said chuckling). But I’m there for my acting abilities more.
What cities are next on the schedule?
We’ll be moving in to New York (Newark – this weekend: 04-26-13) and Oakland (05-17-13) then Los Angeles (05-23-13). It’s a very entertaining show. (Editor’s note: get ticket info at Ticketmaster.)
What can the audience expect?
The end is tragic But there was a lot of love and a lot of laughter in the household as well.
Congratulations on your latest film, “King’s Faith.” Can you talk about your role as Vanessa Stubbs?
Vanessa Stubbs is a Wife and Mother who is grieving the death of her own son and she and her husband take in a foster son who is aging out of the foster care system. He’s a white young man from the wrong side of the tracks. The story is also about her conflict in not wanting anyone to take the place of her son. She’s still honoring him and feels that perhaps she’s been abandoned by God and her son. She also works out her own emotional kinks through the piece. I found it to be a really interesting character. At the end of the day when one can pull themselves up by one’s bootstraps and reach out and help someone else it helps to lighten your load and some strange way.
In the film a white teen is adopted by a black family. What are your thoughts?
Usually it’s the reversal effect. A white couple of some kind of means takes in a black child from the wrong side of the tracks. To me, it actually makes the film more interesting and gives it a deeper meaning. Our country deals with so much polarization. But at the end of the day we’re all in this together. So if we can get past differences of religion and race and sexual preferences and economic differences and work together, then we’re all the better for it. Sometimes when we do things outside of our comfort level we grow
The movie drops during National Foster care Month. What should parents take home after watching?
I hope foster parents who are already in the system, particularly the ones who are doing a great job, will receive this a kind of a thank you note for what they do because it really shows you what a difference it could make in a young persons life to have good foster parents. And for people who may be considering it, I hope its an encouragement to really look into it and take a leap of faith and do it. There are so many children, particularly older kids, who aren’t considered as desirable who need a good home and a good start into their young adult lives. In general terms, I hope it encourages people to remember the old adage “you are your brothers keeper.”
Switching reels, have you caught on to the social media craze – do you have a twitter account?