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Angela Bassett Broadens Her Horizons

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Angela Bassett may not be the buzz of Hollywood at the moment, but rest assured that if you know where to look, you can find her work — the sista's been busy. Bassett's now starring opposite Danny Glover in the screen adaptation of the critically acclaimed play Boseman and Lena, and is also the star and producer of the Showtime feature Ruby's Bucket of Blood, which airs later this year (and of which Whoopi Goldberg is the executive producer). Next on her plate is a role opposite Marlon Brando and Robert DeNiro in the film The Score, slated for release this spring. Bassett spoke with us about her career and broadening horizons.

The title of your upcoming Showtime film, Ruby's Bucket of Blood, is interesting. [[QUOTES {bucket of blood}] is an old phrase people used to describe local bars during the 1930s-1950s]. What's the movie about?

I know it sounds like a bad horror movie, but it's actually about a juke joint owner living in the late '60s Louisiana Bayou. Ruby's a strong-willed businesswoman who is raising a child and is in a relationship with a man who's not her husband. Ruby was a provocative and fascinating character whom I loved playing.

You're the film's star and producer. What's it like to produce?

It was harder than I expected. Acting is much different from producing. The producer's job is filled with many other responsibilities besides acting. Doing both on this film had me running everywhere, making sure that the camera angles and lights were right, and that the actors were hitting their marks. It was hard work, but I had a wonderful time doing it.

What other kinds of films do you want to see or star in that aren't being made?

I'd like to see more good, uplifting stories made that will challenge and improve our self-esteem as Black people. Enough has been put out there to make us feel bad about ourselves. When I read some of the scripts that come across my desk, I sometimes wonder if there isn't a conspiracy or something out there to kill our spirit. We've certainly accomplished a lot as a people and I would like to see those stories made. I'm also attracted to films about women who are strong and can survive against the odds. I think it's fun to see a woman take care of herself.

How are you balancing your projects with your marriage to actor Courtney B. Vance?

Well, until lately, we've both been very fortunate in having the same downtime, which has allowed us to be together and take care of our household. Generally, we try not to spend more than two weeks apart. After that, I begin to feel a little strange and out of sorts.

What else have you got coming up?

This year I'm in a film with Robert DeNiro, Marlon Brando and Ed Norton called The Score. It's an intriguing story about a guy who gets in way over his head when he gets involved in this plot to land a big payoff. I'm also interested in doing Wings Against the Wind, a story about Bessie Coleman, the first Black female aviator. I'm really open to doing anything that allows me an opportunity to do good work. I really love the artistry of performing and it gives me a great high. That's what keeps me going.

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