*Lorraine Toussaint stars as civil rights leader, Amelia Boynton Robinson, in Ava DuVernay’s life changing film, “Selma.”

EUR talked with the actress about activists, unarmed black men, and portraying the first African American woman in Alabama to run for Congress.

selmaEUR: What parallels do you see between “Selma” and current events (like Ferguson and Staten Island)?

Lorraine Toussaint: Obviously we have a long way to go. As far as, we have gotten from actually being able to walk into the ballot box and vote (and may I suggest that we REALLY take advantage of that because people have died for that). Here we are still fighting for the rights of young black men and their safety and well-being.

selmaEUR: Why should people go see “Selma?”

Lorraine Toussaint: There were so many assumptions about Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X (played by Nigel Thatch), Diane Nash (played by Tessa Thompson), and the movers and shakers that were at the core and forefront of this extraordinary movement. You get to know them as people…they were so young. They were in their twenties and early thirties when this was going on. King was 27-years-old when this started…you can’t imagine that. You think of him as this iconic legend but he was a man. That’s the thing Ava DuVernay (director) really went after…you get to meet these people as human beings, they weren’t historical characters back then. They were young and flawed. You would think that they were all united but they were at odds with each other, often about what to do, where to go, and how to do it.

selmaEUR: The character you portray is still alive…

Lorraine Toussaint: Mrs.  Amelia Boynton Robinson, is 103-years-old, and just celebrated her birthday in August! When we were in Selma, Alabama, I had the opportunity to go visit Mrs. Amelia and its extraordinary to walk into a room with a legend that is just a woman. There were pads when I was hit and fell to the ground…and while I invested all of myself into some of those really horrific moments…nothing can touch the fact that this woman was jailed countless times, beaten countless times, harassed ,and hospitalized numerous times. This beautiful, frail, strong, resilient body really took the blows for us. I was extraordinarily humbled and honored to meet Mrs. Amelia and certainly to play her.

“Selma” will be in select theaters Christmas Day, 2014 and everywhere January 9, 2015. To find local listings click here.