Feb '00
Obba Babatunde - More than just an Actor

(Feb : Main Page * Features * Reviews * Gallery ) Current Issue * Archive
 
Obba Babatunde
Interviewed by Shelby J. Jones Sandwiched between shooting Dawson's Creek, reviewing scripts and filming an episode of The Outer Limits in Vancouver, the multitalented Obba Babatunde is hard to keep up with. I managed to spend a little time talking with the multitalented Babatunde and discovered that he is a thespian who truly defines the word. With the performing talent of Sammy Davis Jr., and the business acumen of any Hollywood heavyweight, Obba is poised to grab us, entertain us and leave an indelible impression with performances from his soul.
SJJ
Obba, you are not simply an actor - you are an entertainer. What are your favorite vehicles for expressing your talents?
OB:
I would say that I am cut from the same cloth as many of the entertainers I grew up watching. Great talents like Sammy Davis Jr.- a man who did it all and did it all great (singing, dancing and acting) giving a great deal of focus to detail in each area of the craft. He mastered all that he set out to do through study, practice and dedication to the art form. I would not say that I have a favorite area because I have a healthy respect for each be it on Stage, the small screen or the big screen. Each has its own special joys.
SJJ
I'm gonna ask this one just to get it over with. How was it filming Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (see review) with Ms. Berry?
OB:
There have been some tuff jobs in the past but this one took the prize... I was required to share a bed with Halle Berry, kiss her, hold her...oh it was murder...if you buy that I would like to sell you a bridge in Manhattan. It was without a doubt a wonderful experience. It was a good story and I got to portray one of my heroes as well as dust off some of my skills not as often used on film. Recreating some of the great dance numbers was challenging and fun. Also I`d like it to be understood that it was completely at the insistence of Miss Berry that I be without clothes in the bedroom scene. Why? You`ll have to ask her.
SJJ
I see, I see, I've got to get into that acting thing. Let me re-focus. In recent years, Blacks and others are becoming fed up with the lack of representation in television and film. Can you provide us with an insider's view about what's really going on?
OB:
Blacks hold a great deal of power when it comes to how much is spent daily on product. If we don't like what we are seeing or in this case not seeing, then we have to let our displeasure be known. We can do this in many ways; one way is a simple boycott of product purchases of those advertisers who are sponsors on these shows in which we do not see a fair representation of ourselves. Along with a letter or e-mail that says until you find it necessary to include someone or something that represents my inclusion in the American experience, then I will not purchase your products. Then follow it up with said action. I think there would be a noticeable change.
SJJ
You were in the film Life (see review) with Eddie Murphy and Martin Lawrence. The film, while not super funny as expected, was surprisingly more subdued, and told a good story about Black men confined to life in prison. What did you think about the script when you first read it? Did the subject matter strike you as being something that needed attention?
OB:
When I heard about the project I was eager to read the script and after reading the script, I was hell bent on being apart of telling of the story. I think the movie helped raise the bar as far as what one can expect from a movie hosting a predominately black cast. The film showed that we can have elements of humor, drama, tragedy and basic entertainment without buffoonery, coonary, and excess violence. I was proud to be a part of such a strong and interesting film.
SJJ
Dreamgirls was a major point on your professional journey. I know there must be something about that production that you'll never forget. What is it? And is there something that you would like to forget? (I ask the later with a smile and laugh).
OB:
There are wonderful projects, and then there are jobs, and then there are experiences in this business that help change your life. For me it was Dream Girls. There is too much to tell in this interview but it will all be in my book (The True Story). Let me say to have been apart of the core at the genesis of a show that is a benchmark for the American musical is indeed an honor and a privilege I hold in great esteem.

 

(Feb : Main Page * Features * Reviews * Gallery ) Current Issue * Archive