Our features writer Fundiswa Nkwanyana chats with American actress Lynn Whitfield.
I believe that acting chose me. As a little girl growing up in Louisiana, United States of America, I dreamt of becoming an actress, and I’m honoured to be one. Throughout my schooling years, I worked towards a career that will allow me to make people laugh, smile and cry, and open up their world.
I’m excited that there are more black women working behind the scenes in Hollywood. I love that they no longer take the backseat and are telling authentic stories that represent diverse black women. I’m enjoying being part of this positive change because when I started in this industry, it was dominated by men.
I love my character on the film Nappily Ever After and television drama series Greenleaf available on Netflix. In the film, I play Pauletta, a mother living vicariously through her child, Violet. She is a protective mother and wants to ensure that she always presents the best version of herself. I love that this character sheds light on a mother’s role in building a child’s identity. In the series, I play Lady Mae Greenleaf, the First Lady of Calvary Fellowship. She is strong, complex and unapologetically herself, and this resonates with me. I love that both these characters have so much depth. Greenleaf shows that there is nothing wrong with questioning God’s messengers and in Nappily Ever After, I loved that there was also a focus on the importance of parent’s building their children’s self-confidence.
I believe that representation matters in the entertainment industry. We need more stories that talk about the LGBTI community, especially because many African countries kill or imprison members of the LGBTI community, and this is sad. I also wish that there would be more stories about mature women, such as myself. I find that when actresses are younger they are often overly sexualised and when they are older, they are given roles of elderly people. I’d love to see movies that celebrate mature people and does not hide that they are still sexual beings.
It has taken me decades to understand that happiness comes from within. It does not always depend on who you are with, but on how you choose to see the world. The journey to self-love is long and worth it, and I wish more people would focus on being whole and not think that someone else can make them whole.
Watch the trailer of Greenleaf.
You can stream Greenleaf on any compatible device which is supported by Netflix.