ACTOR + POET SONJA SOHN ON KIMA GREGGS, THE WIRE, THE POETRY SCENE, THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE + BEING A BADASS (MF GALAXY 077)
LET THE WRITER BE THE BOSS, RACIAL INCLUSION + ALIENATION, GREGGS WAS A KITTEN NOT A DOG, WALTER MOSLEY, DAVID SIMON + BEING THE MORAL COMPASS
Although best known for her role as the Baltimore homicide investigator Kima Greggs, Sonja Sohn is also a performance poet; her second film role was in Marc Levin’s 1998 indie film Slam, which she also co-wrote. She went on to appear in John Singleton’s Shaft reboot, and in Martin Scorcese’s Bringing Out the Dead. Of combined African-American and East Asian heritage, she won a 2008 television supporting actor Asian Excellence Award for her work on The Wire.
In 2008 she campaigned for Barack Obama, and in 2009 she founded reWIRED for Change, a Baltimore-based NGO that seeks to help at-risk youth. In 2011, she won the Woman of the Year award from the Harvard Black Men’s Forum.
In today’s episode of MF GALAXY, Sohn discusses:
- How she as a writer responds to the scripts she’s given to act
- The experience of inclusion in and alienation from African Americans and Asian Americans
- How her character Kima Greggs was a badass at work but a kitten at home
- Her opinion of author Walter Mosley’s self-appointed mission to create what he calls Black Male Heroes, and
- How The Wire characterises African American women
Sohn spoke with me by telephone on September 11, 2008. She began by discussing her experiences and influences as a poet, and the poetry scene in the US as she knew it in 2008.