*Kellita Smith is one of Hollywood’s most talented and versatile actresses with a career spanning over two decades in film, television and theatre. She currently stars as Warner in the Syfy drama series “Z Nation,” and she plays First Lady Katherine Johnson in the nationally syndicated television show “The First Family” produced by Byron Allen’s Entertainment Studios. The role earned her a 2013 NAACP Image Award nomination for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
Kellita is best known for her breakout role as Wanda Mac on the hit Fox comedy series “The Bernie Mac Show,” and now the multi-hyphenated actress is hitting the big screen this Friday when “The Man In 3B” opens. EUR chatted with Kellita about her portrayal as Detective Anderson in the murder mystery that’s based on New York Time’s bestseller by author, Carl Weber.
On the big screen, Kellita has worked with a stellar list of A-list talent, including Sean Penn, who cast her in his film “The Crossing Guard” with Jack Nicholson. So we asked Ms. Smith, what attracted her to this suspenseful indie project.
Kellita: The Twist. When I read the script I was like, ‘Oh my god, this is great!’. Carl Weber, who is the author of this, and other crime mystery novels, has decided to take a few of these novels and turn them into film and TV shows. So this was the first script they sent me, and he actually wanted me to play one of the women on the stoop that live in the apartment building, and I wanted to play the detective because (it) would be a wonderful opportunity for the business to see that I can be a cop, not just some woman on the stoop with jokes – ya know I can do that.
The actors deliver emotionally charging performances in “The Man in 3B.” What was the on-set vibe like in between takes, more jokes than drama?
Kellita: Depends on the scene. In order to stay in that moment, respectively you allow for those actors to keep that momentum and that energy and oftentimes what we do is move to the side but then afterwards you celebrate because the energy of it is electric, and it reverberates, and you’re paying attention to it because you’re in the moment and the moment moves you too.
How did you get involved with “Sharknado 3: Oh Hell No!?”
Kellita: I laugh because it’s the only shot at nepotism in my career. The people who produced Sharknado produce the show I’m on right now, Z Nation, and what they thought to do was create a prequel, so it’s almost like establishing Roberta Warren in a film, and then fit her into the television series. They’re great. I love the Asylum.”
Most of your TV work has been in half-hour comedy, so what’s been most delightful about being a part of a hit zombie horror series?
Kellita: When I got the opportunity to audition for (“Z Nation), I wasn’t sure what it was about initially cause they only gave me so much material, and the material responded to me because of the writing and the heartfelt words that were able to come out of my mouth. That really stimulated me more so cause I didn’t know it was so action packed until I got there. Luckily for me and for them, I would dabble in martial arts and fencing in those downtimes as an actor. I had dabbled in Tae Kwon Do, a little bit of Judo and Cantonese style fighting ever since 1999, and so it kind went hand and hand for this, but the beautiful thing about being able to play this part is I get the drama and I get the action and there is the comedy. It’s like all three in one show.
You’ve mentioned that you’re a huge fan of “Law & Order SVU,” considering your previous roles playing an officer of the law, has Dick Wolfe hit you up for a future guest spot yet?
Kellita: No but could he! If I could just send him a clip, cause I get to do some really, badass stuff on Z-nation that really sets up for an action film. Not to knock the women on SVU, I think a sista would have to bring a little bit more sass and a little more kick ass. I do all my own stunts on Z Nation, so it would be nothing for me to do a Judo hit move. I think that would make an African American female character on his show different and electric. And that’s what I’m shooting for.
“The Man in 3B” arrives in theaters Friday, Nov. 6.