January 2003
African-American women in successful TV shows : An Interview with Wendy Raquel Robinson (of Fox’s Cedric “ The Entertainer” Presents)

African-American women in successful TV shows : An Interview with Wendy Raquel Robinson (of Fox’s Cedric “ The Entertainer” Presents)

From film, television, theatre stage, and even the boardroom, Wendy Raquel Robinson embraces the many different roles of today’s woman. Blackfilm.com sat with Wendy to discuss her career and the versatile characters she plays on FOX’s Cedric “The Entertainer” Presents. The show airs every Tuesday night 8:30/7:30PM C.

AH: You are such a busy lady; tell us what are you working on now?

WR: Right now I am working on Cedric “The Entertainer” Presents. It’s a new sketch comedy show on Fox and doing a little theatre in Los Angeles and just trying to keep my options open.

AH: You have done a lot of work in film, live theatre, and television. Which one do you prefer more?

WR: I love theatre because that is my foundation. So, if I had to make a choice in terms of where I get the most fulfillments, it would be theatre. The reaction is so immediate, unlike with TV and film. With film, you have to wait almost a year before the movie comes out. With television, its so subjective to the editing and things that can get tampered with. Because of my experience in television, I am little more comfortable, and I feel I can have a little bit more freedom to play. I am looking forward to doing many more projects.

AH: Can you tell me a little more about the characters you get to play on Cedric “The Entertainer” Presents? Do you like being able to play different characters or do you prefer having one character that develops overtime?

WR: I love being able to be as versatile as possible. In one episode I was a grandmother, in another one I played a sorority girl. It gives me an opportunity not to get pigeonholed. I get to show different sides of me as an artist and as a person. Playing “Principal Regina Greer” [on “The Steve Harvey Show”] it was such a blessing. It was great being able to do that for six seasons. But, the dilemma that I faced coming out of that is that people see you as that character. It was hard getting into a room and proving otherwise. I could change my hair, change my looks, but people still had “Regina Greer” imbedded in their mind. This is a Godsend. Its one of the things I prayed for because I love doing improve and sketch comedy.

AH: What are some of the challenges you faced in getting to this point in your career? What advice would you give to struggling artists?

WR: This is a business that is based on rejection. You have to have tough skin and not take things personal. For a long time I thought it was [something wrong with] me. But there were things that were outside of me that determined me not getting a job. Once I understood that and remained passionate, not becoming bitter or angry, I realized that it is bigger than me. It’s about the project first. For every ninety (90) jobs that I audition for, I might get one (1). But then, once you get the gig, then its all fun.

AH: Do you feel that Hollywood has a recycling bin of actors and actresses or do you think that they are really interested in exploring new talent?

WR: There is always a new flavor of the month, especially in film. Film is a hard one because there is so much money involved. They are going to go to their bankable artists, like Hale [Berry] and Vivica [Fox]. They know that people will buy tickets. It’s hard for people to buy tickets to a movie and its all-new faces, unless there is a famous producer or director. I would hate to say recyclable, because I am on another series, but in a different light. I think everyone in those positions has earned them. It’s a matter of staying power and once you get the gig, you maintain those relationships with the producers, writers, directors, network execs, and showing up and being dependable. It’s being able to stay in the game.

AH: Do you enjoy being involved in community events like The Los Angeles Black Business Expo, the NACCP Beverly Hills Chapter Theatre Awards, and your own organization, Amazing Grace Conservatory?

WR: I enjoy being attached to things that are positive and uplifting for the community. With the business expo, I have my own business, so it’s a lot of networking opportunities that are made available. Its self promotion, but its also about bringing the community to a place that is positive on many levels. It was actually supposed to be a one-time thing, and then they wanted me back every year. With the theatre awards, I have a lot of fun. Its not something that I seek out, but I love when things like that come to me. Amazing Grace Conservatory has been so rewarding, especially when the alumni come back. Some of them are at Yale and NYU, pursuing their dreams. They are confident and good and competing. They are on TV and starting their own music groups. Seeing the seeds that were planted, start to sprout. We will not be nonprofit until 2003. It was tuition based. It is located on Adams and 11th Avenue in Los Angeles.

AH: Are you at all interested in directing in the future?

WR: I direct a lot with the kids [of the Amazing Grace Conservatory]. I am quite as sure about adults! I like working with children a lot. I have shadowed on the set, so I know about camera shots for TV, but if I did anything, it would probably be a short film.

AH: Thank you for your time.

WR: Thank you.