Monday, January 25, 2016

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WENDELL PIERCE ON HOLLYWOOD’S RACISM, AFRICAN SELF-DETERMINATION IN THE FILM BUSINESS, AND WHY HE NEARLY QUIT THE WIRE (MF GALAXY 062)

THE CRAFTS OF SCREEN VS. STAGE ACTING, THE RESPONSIBILITY OF AFRICAN CELEBRITIES IN THE US, WHY ANTWONE FISHER FAILED AT THE BOX OFFICE, AND WHY HE SAYS ISHMAEL REED IS RIGHT ABOUT THE WIRE

Best known as Detective Bunk Moreland on HBO’s The Wire, stage and screen actor Wendell Pierce has appeared in over 30 films and more than 50 television shows. He’s also an outspoken commentator on racism in US life, politics, and entertainment, and a social and economic justice activist for the people of his home town, New Orleans. He was also a top fundraiser for Barack Obama’s 2012 presidential campaign.

Way back in 2008, Wendell Pierce came to Edmonton to shoot “Something with Bite,” the werewolf episode of the horror anthology Fear Itself produced by Lion’s Gate, written by Max Landis, who later wrote Chronicle, and directed by Ernest Dickerson, best known for Juice and Never Die Alone.

Pierce and I had a wide-ranging discussion in which he discussed:

* How he deals with disappointment about his acting performance
* The craft difference between acting for the screen and acting for the stage
* What the “domino effect” is in acting and how to use it
* Representation of Africans in US entertainment, in 2008 comments that are completely relevant to the 2015 US Academy Award nominations
* His commitment to working on films by independent African artists
* The responsibility of African celebrities in the US
* Why the superb film Antwone Fisher failed at the box office
* His opinion of the brilliant writer Ishmael Reed, who is one of the most outspoken critics of The Wire, and why he frequently considered quitting the series, and
* His analysis of the so-called War on Drugs, privatisation of education, and the US Prison-Industrial Complex

I recorded today’s never-before-aired interview with Pierce on April 30, 2008. We sat in the lobby of the downtown Sutton Place Hotel while he waited for his ride to take him to set. I began by asking him about his approach to the craft of acting.

And now on MF Galaxy, my conversation with Wendell Pierce.


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