About Features Reviews Community Screenings Archives Studios Home
June 2005
Rebound: An Interview with Wendy Raquel Robinson

Rebound: An Interview with Wendy Raquel Robinson

By Wilson Morales

If any comedian needs an actress to complement his skills when working on the big and small screen, they need to go to just one person: Wendy Raquel Robinson. This fine actress has worked with the best of them, going from working with Steve Harvey and Cedric the Entertainer together and on their separate TV shows, and also working with MoNique on "The Parkers". Now she's teaming up with Martin Lawrence on the big screen in the comedy-drama "Rebound" in which she plays the mother to a student-basketball player Martin's character coaches. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Ms. Robinson spoke about her character and working with Martin Lawrence.

WRR: My character is Jeanie Alice and she's actually the mother of the one of basketball players. She's a single parent mom with a strong will and overprotective of her son and I also happen to be the music teacher at the school where the infamous Coach Roy is coming to teach. So of course, I was apprehensive about him coming to teach because I know how he is and me being overprotective, so I'm the combative one. As the story unfolds, I realize that he is now as bad as I thought he was and he does genuinely care about, not only my son, but the integrity of the team. A romantic connection then ensues.

Did you audition for the role or did Martin Lawrence bring you in?

WRR: I auditioned but Martin do have a history and fortunately he made sure I got the role, but I had to go through a very rigorous audition process because he wanted me for it, 20th Century Fox, being the studio and not knowing me other than my television work, was apprehensive about taking a risk like that, but he put his foot down and fought foot and nail for me to get it. Between the two, they caught my talent and I think it all worked out.

How was working with Martin Lawrence?

WRR: Working with him is wonderful because he's so spontaneous and you really don't know what to expect in terms of each take because he doesn't like to rehearse a lot, which is good because he likes to keep it fresh and not get it too over-rehearsed. So, he's very, very spontaneous. It's fun and it keeps you on your toes and keeps all of your reactions very honest. I think that's a part of his comedic genius actually.

Having worked with Steve Harvey, another comedian, what's the difference between Martin and Steve?

WRR: Well, I haven't worked on-screen with Steve and with television, it's much more intimate I should say and we worked very closely five days a week for 5  years, so it was a very intimate relationship. They are both very different. Steve is very outward and external with his comedy and Martin is very introverted in a lot of ways. He's actually very quiet. You would think he was a little shy if you didn't know him. They are very different, but there's something special about the both of them.

What's it like to play the role of a mother on-screen?

WRR: (Laughs) Oh God, it aged me. You know what, I love kids. I've been working kids for years and it came pretty naturally for me even though I don't have any kids so I just tried so do what some of role models do like my mom. She's a great role model for that. It was fun. I felt like I had more at stake; like it wasn't about me, but a vested interest about my son. So the role gave me more to work with actually.

Is playing the role of a mother on-screen an intimidating factor for actresses?

WRR: I never looked at it as being intimidating. You want to have integrity and you want to represent because I didn't want to be this sassy momma. I didn't want to just play a one dimensional character. I didn't look at the role as being intimidating. I saw it as having more meat on the bone because it wasn't about me and Martin. It was really another interest that brought me and Marin together that was greater than Martin and me and that was the character of my son.

What's the appealing factor to this film? Is it the romance or is it the kids?

WRR: It's definitely a feel good movie and definitely about the kids and how they affect Martin's character. It's a transformation from being an ego maniac and caring about nothing but material things to really giving some thought about the kids and the school and what the game really means and in the process he discovers that he does have a heart. It's such a feel good movie, I'm really proud of this. It's a great message. There are no color lines. It's nicely integrated. I went to see it with my nieces and nephews and my mom and my dad, and everybody enjoyed it across the board. Not just because I was in it but because I was in it, because our storyline is not as significant. It has a wonderful arc to it from me being his nemesis to being his potential love interest. It has a good feeling to it.

Having working with comediennes such as Martin and Steve, and with most of your films being a mix comedy and drama, do you see yourself having funny bones?

WRR: I see myself being the voice of reason within the comedy and I think that has been my stabilizing force. I have been able to work a lot of comediennes and do a lot funny projects but still maintain that sense of reason for the other characters around me. I can definitely go left. I have definitely played some roles where you would see it as a departure from what you have seen me in before. That was just for me, but I know I have a funny bone. With this character, because she is so hard at first, you see her quirks. Overall, I think that is one of my strengths. I think I'm able to be funny but also be the voice of reason and make sense out of non-sense sometimes.

You also have another film coming out called "Something New" with Sanaa Lathan.

WRR: That's going to be a very good film. It's very different from this one. "Rebound" is definitely family and fun whereas "Something New" is an intense romantic comedy drama. It's also a racial romantic dramedy at that, but with some wonderful characters.

What role do you play?

WRR: I play Sanaa's best friend. I'm the judge. It's a different voice of reason. Sanaa's character is getting a lot of flack for being with a white guy, but I finally find the love of my life after so many years of not being with anyone and I realize that it's important that you be with the one that you love as opposed to the one that you think everybody else wants you to be with. I play a judge, a professional woman and not afraid to let hair down and speak my mind and actually I work opposite Mike Epps, which was a treat for me. This is a wonderful departure for him as well.

Can you talk about the Amazing Grace Conservatory?

WRR: The Amazing Grace Conservatory is a theatrical training institute for the youth ranges from ages 7-21. To be honest, the way we were started it, me and my business partner were local artists teaching at various institutes and fell in love with the kids and had a wonderfully following. The school we were teaching at, we were used to teach with Marla Gibbs at Crossroads, and she closed it down and there was no place to go and we decided to go for it and opened up a school. That's just how it started. Here we are 10 years later and we have matriculated over 2500 kids through the school and they are doing some amazing things. From being at Yale or Tisch or working on TV projects and film projects. One of my kids will actually be in the film with 50 Cents, "Get Rich or Die Trying". She will be playing the young character that Joy Bryant plays as an adult. It's been so rewarding and it's my passion. It's really is. So no matter what happens in the business, you will always see me at ACT.


Terms of Use | Privacy Policy