Badinage with Brother Hodge!

 

Aldis Hodge and Janelle Monae in a scene from Hidden FiguresAldis Hodge 

The “Underground / Hidden Figures” Interview

with Kam Williams

Badinage with Brother Hodge!

Aldis Hodge is perhaps best known for his role as Alec Hardison on the TNT series Leverage which nabbed a People’s Choice Award in 2013, in addition to his role as MC Ren in  Straight Outta Compton. Furthermore, he starred in the Amazon pilot The After and enjoyed a recurring role on the AMC Revolutionary War drama Turn: Washington’s Spies.

Aldis appeared opposite Alexander Skarsgard and Ellen Page in the eco-terrorism thriller “The East.” And he appeared in A Good Day to Die Hard, the latest installment of the “Die Hard” franchise.

Aldis started his career at 3 as a model for print ads and commercials. He made the transition to the small screen when he and his brother Edwin were cast on Sesame Street. Later, they joined the Tony-winning revival of Showboat on Broadway.

During that period, he parlayed his success on stage into a movie career, debuting in Die Hard with a Vengeance, before making Bed of Roses, The Stone House, Edmond, The Ladykillers and Big Momma’s House. Aldis’ television roles include the critically-acclaimed series Friday Night Lights, Supernatural, The Walking Dead, Girlfriends, American Dreams, City of Angels, Bones, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, ER, Cold Case, Charmed and Boston Public.

Born in Jacksonville, North Carolina, but raised in New York and New Jersey, Aldis is an avid scriptwriter, designer and painter in addition to acting. Here, he talks about playing Levi Jackson in the Oscar-nominated Hidden Figures and about reprising the role of Noah on the television series Underground about the Underground Railroad which just started its second season on the WGN America network. 

Kam Williams: Hi Aldis, I’m honored to have this opportunity to speak with you.

Aldis Hodge: I appreciate your time as well, Kam.

KW: Congratulations on the second season of Underground. What first interested you in doing the series?

AH: I enjoyed the way the story was written. I was intrigued by the narrative showing people rising up and fighting for their freedom. 

KW: What can we expect to see new this season.

AH: I’ll put it like this, brother. Everybody thought it couldn’t get crazier or more dangerous, but it does. Last year, everyone was focused on this idea of freedom and just getting off the plantation without contemplating the harsh reality of what that really meant. At the end of the season, we were pretty much split up. Now, you get a pretty introspective view of each character. We’re all dealing with the consequences of what transpired last season in our own way. My character, Noah, was learning what it meant to try to be a leader. This season, he’s learning more about who he is as a man. Right now, the strength of his love for Rosalee [played by Jurnee Smollett-Bell] is more important to him than freedom, whereas last year was purely about survival.

KW: What’s it like acting opposite Jurnee?

AH: She’s awesome! That’s my road dog right there. Our characters go through so much together this season that we have to depend on each other emotionally as actors. We didn’t share a lot of scenes together because our story focuses on Noah and Rosalee’s trying to get back to each other. We see that their love transcends their situation. There’s still a very powerful connection between them, and we had to develop that. So, we had to take a different approach, and Jurnee was there 100% of the way. She is an absolute beast!

Aldis Hodge, The “Underground / Hidden Figures”, Interview with Kam Williams

Aldis Hodge and Janelle Monae in a scene from Hidden Figures

KW: What’s it been like working a real-life icon, Harriet Tubman, into the story?

AH: It’s great that we get to honor Tubman’s legacy through a real-life representation, although we’d already paid tribute to her last season. It’s not really a different approach. The only thing that’s changed is that we have a fantastic actress in Aisha Hinds materializing Tubman. Aisha does a fantastic job of enabling us to explore who Harriet Tubman was.

KW: Congratulations on Hidden Figures’ win at the Screen Actors Guild awards. Were you surprised?

AH: It was a huge surprise. We were all blown away. The girls [Taraji P. Hensen, Janelle Monae and Octavia Spencer] were all crying, and I think I might have dropped a tear or two, too. The film has gotten so much love. It was awesome because this award was coming directly from a pool of several hundred thousand actors. Our peers! So, we were very grateful. 

KW: Why do you think Hidden Figures has made the most money of all the movies nominated for the Best Picture Oscar?

AH: It’s absolutely because of the message. Granted, a big part is that people will go to the theater and enjoy it. But I think the primary reason it’s been so effective is that it represents the antidote to some of the cultural issues we’re still dealing with as a nation. It illustrates what can be accomplished when you look beyond the prejudices and stereotypes and allow equality to win out overall. These women accomplished what they did in spite of segregated bathrooms, and not having equal pay or the right to vote. That made it an inspiring film for both little girls and boys. It’s exactly what America needs right now.    

KW: Your mom is from the South and your father is from Dominica. Did they ever talk to you when you were growing up about any racial discrimination they experienced?   

AH: Yes,my mom experienced racism. She was harassed by the KKK several times. And I experienced racism myself, growing up. In New Jersey, we had trash thrown on our lawn every day. And we had the lines to our Christmas lights cut three years in a row. We just stopped putting up Christmas lights after that. That’s probably why I still don’t put up any lights during the holidays. People talk about Jim Crow as if it’s dead. Jim Crow isn’t gone. It’s adjusted. Look at the disproportionate sentences meted out to blacks caught up in the criminal justice system. There’s a problem when people profit from putting and keeping African-Americans in prison. We need to do a better job as a nation understanding the real values the country’s built upon in terms of fairness, equality and equal opportunity. That’s why I like being a part of projects like Hidden Figures and Underground. They illustrate mistakes of the past we need not repeat, as well as the beauty of the progress achieved when everybody cares about the underprivileged.    

KW: Editor/Legist Patricia says: I recently saw Hidden Figures and I loooooved it! I even started to read the book before there was talk about releasing the film. Were you familiar with the role these women had played in the NASA space program before you got the script?

AH: Yes, but I didn’t know much beyond the fact that there were these black, female mathematicians who had accomplished this great feat.

KW: Patricia continues: You write scripts. Is there a story special to you that you would like to see turned into a film?

AH: Yes, I have a few projects that I’m already working on right now that I have to keep under wraps. I also think the Emmett Till story needs to be told, because his accuser just came out and admitted that her story wasn’t true, and because his murderers bragged about lynching him after they were acquitted, since they couldn’t be tried twice. Again, problems with the legal system.

KW: Lastly, Patricia says: Your parents served in the U.S. Marine Corps. Did you travel a lot with them growing up? If so, was it useful in your up bringing?

AH: Yeah, when I was younger, we moved from North Carolina to Hawaii, and then from Hawaii to New Jersey. Nowadays, my job keeps me traveling on a regular basis, and I think my childhood did prepare me for it.

KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?

AH: [LOL]  What’s in my wallet? Just my business card.

KW: Keep up the good work, Aldis, and I look forward to speaking with you again soon.

AH: Likewise, Kam. Thank you.


Source:  GIG News

Hidden Figures Takes Top Ensemble Honor

 

2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards

by Kam Williams

Hidden Figures Takes Top Ensemble Honor
Denzel, Viola and Mahershala Garner Individual Acting Accolades

The La La Land juggernaut hit a speed bump at the Screen Actors Guild (SAG) Awards on Sunday, when it only took home one trophy, Emma Stone’s for Best Actress in a Leading Role. On an evening dominated by African-American entrants, blacks prevailed in the other three film acting categories, with Denzel Washington and Viola Davis winning for Fences, while Mahershala Ali landed the Best Supporting Actor accolade for his powerful performance in Moonlight. Delivering a heartfelt acceptance speech, Ali talked about maintaining a great relationship with his Christian minister mother despite his converting to Islam.

 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards,  by Kam Williams, Denzel, Mahershala Garner

Denzel Washington

In what has to be considered a big upset, the SAG equivalent for Best Picture honors went to Hidden Figures. Granted La La hadn’t even been nominated, but Moonlight had been dubbed the prohibitive favorite, followed by Fences and Manchester by the Sea.

Nevertheless, long shot Hidden Figures beat the odds, and Taraji P. Henson spoke earnestly on behalf of the entire ensemble cast, which also included Octavia Spencer, Janelle Monae, Kevin Costner, Jim Parsons, Kirsten Dunst and Mahershala Ali. In what was easily the most moving address of the evening, she credited the three women serving as inspiration for the picture, closing with, “They are hidden figures no more.”

Many of the presenters and winners took potshots at Donald Trump, most notably, Lifetime Achievement Award-winner Lily Tomlin. Backstage, after the show, she compared the President to Hitler, noting, “Trump is changing the laws… I don’t want to make this comparison… but the Nazis changed the laws if they didn’t agree with them… We need to be vigilant… Omigosh, I feel like I’m talking to someplace in Germany many decades ago.”

Complete List of 2017 Screen Actors Guild Winner

 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards,  by Kam Williams, Denzel, Mahershala Garner

Mahershala Ali

Film

Cast in a Motion Picture: “Hidden Figures”

Female Actor in a Leading Role: Emma Stone, “La La Land”

Male Actor in a Leading Role: Denzel Washington, “Fences”

Female Actor in a Supporting Role: Viola Davis, “Fences”

Male Actor in a Supporting Role: Mahershala Ali, “Moonlight”

Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture: “Hacksaw Ridge”

Television

Female Actor in a Comedy Series: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, “Veep”

 2017 Screen Actors Guild Awards,  by Kam Williams, Denzel, Mahershala Garner

Viola Davis and Julius Tennon

Male Actor in a Comedy Series: William H. Macy, “Shameless”

Ensemble in a Comedy Series: “Orange is the New Black”

Female Actor in Drama Series: Claire Foy, “The Crown”

Male Actor in Drama Series: John Lithgow, “The Crown”

Ensemble in a Drama Series: “Stranger Things”

Female Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Sarah Paulson, “The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story”

Male Actor in a Television Movie or Miniseries: Bryan Cranston, “All the Way”

Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series: “Game of Thrones”

Lifetime Achievement Award

Lily Tomlin

 

Source:  GIG News