Author Topic: Pam Grier: Interview with an Icon  (Read 2115 times)

Offline Reginald Hudlin

  • Landlord
  • Honorary Wakandan
  • *****
  • Posts: 9888
    • View Profile
Pam Grier: Interview with an Icon
« on: June 15, 2010, 09:46:37 am »
 
 
from EBONY:

Pam Grier
Interview with an Icon
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
By Sergio Mims
 
Coffy. Foxy Brown. Jackie Brown. The L Word. No need to say anymore. There can be only one person we’re talking about, the one and only Pam Grier, one of the most iconic and dynamic personalities ever in movies with over 120 film and TV roles in her impressive and outstanding career.

After five 5 seasons on Showtime’s “The L Word “and another season on CW Network’s “Smallville”, Grier is currently working on the new film “Larry Crowne “ with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and in whatever little time, has left has been touring the country promoting her best selling new autobiography, Foxy, a brutally honest unflinching look at her life, the hard times, the good times, the loves of her life and of course her famous roles.

Recently Ebony had an opportunity to talk to Grier about new book, how she dealt with the tough challenges she faced, her relationships with men and her issues with being a “savior”.

EBONY: To start off , there was an article recently in which the writer posted the question if there were to be a remake today of Coffy and Foxy Brown who would you cast? Of all the responses NO ONE could come up with an actress who could play those parts. That’s why you’re an icon. You’re one of a kind, unique.
Grier: Very interesting! Great observation!

EBONY: But on screen you are, no doubt, a “woman”. These actresses today, most of them come off to me like little girls wearing their mother’s clothes trying to be adult, but missing the mark by a mile.
Grier:  I don’t feel that. They’re all original, very unique because an actor is an unique entity. They come from different spiritual perspectives, different economic situations and generations. We’re all so different.

EBONY: But here’s the point. After reading Foxy, in which you chronicle many difficult experiences you have been through, being raped twice before the age of 18 (once when you were 6), your parents’ separation and divorce, facing discrimination and racism growing up on Colorado, I realized that’s why audiences really responded to you even in your early films like The Big Bird Cage or Coffy. They could somehow sense that, even at the young age, you had experienced a life and faced some real challenges. Today actresses don’t have that anything remotely like that.

Grier: Well they may have, but they’re not revealing it. It would be presumptuous to say it that I’ve lived more than they have. But not everyone recovers or is able to separate themselves from their lives to survive and…who knows? For me, all I could do is just to be present, be me. And yes the depths of emotion that I experienced from a child through adulthood, that I could be able to parlay on the screen. And, yes, there are films with, say, certain reenactments very similar to what I’ve experienced that I may not be able to portray because they’re so close. But being a great actor is a life lived and lessons learned. And I had to write my memoir to share that.

EBONY: And I just about the ask you the obvious question, why did you decide to do your autobiography now?
Grier: Because of so many women and inspirations like Lena Horne, Hatte McDaniel, who went to the same high school in Denver I went to, to Gloria Steinem to Shirley Chisholm to Barbara Jordan. All these women who opened doors for me and helped me to navigate my life and I’m hoping with this memoir will give insight and help others to navigate through their lives and to share my faults. But there was time when people were filled so with self pride or shame that they could not reveal themselves or to their family and they kept so much to themselves which I don’t know is healthy. I see a lot of family dysfunction, sibling dysfunction and relationship dysfunction and that behavior was being passed on to generation to generation to generation. But there are today many counseling services today and group therapy and family therapy for that. But back in the day I didn’t have anyone to speak with to understand humanity, behavior and human nature. And now many years later I’m seeing the same the same abuse, the same behavior. And I have such a compassion and empathy for life and people I thought if I could share some events I went through then people could see they were not alone. As if they’re talking to me and I’m talking to them, to share and help them make another step to feel confident and less uncertain.

EBONY: So writing Foxy for you was in effect a form of catharsis?
Grier: In several ways, yes. It was cathartic, yet it released some evidence of trauma, uncertainty and despair. However many of it stays with you, but doesn’t encompass me. I don’t define myself by my tragedies. I don’t define myself by my age. I define myself by my energy, my great love for living.

EBONY: Which brings up the fact that terrible things that you experienced in your past you then recreated in films like being raped in real life like your character in Foxy Brown. How do you do a scene like that in front of an entire cast and crew without experiencing flashbacks or having breakdown?
Grier: Well you’re split. I was able to be split from that and to be working from almost a “third eye”.  Also many times as I was able to humanize the character, humanize the events , humanizing the iconic status, putting a human embodiment. I’m sure I found a protective corner in my mind where I said I may not be able to do it, I’ll stop when I cannot. But if I can, I’ve been there and if it’s not so frightening and I survived it then let’s show how harmful this can be. That’s how I was able to reenact certain events in my life. It’s called maturity.

EBONY: One of many things I found most surprising in your book is how when you were younger you doubted and were insecure about your looks. YOU? Pam Grier? For real?
Grier: It was not doubting. It was not recognizing that my features were more unique or more attractive than someone else. It was just “there” and there wasn’t a real recognition of the atheistic or appreciation: “Oh my features are so perfect” or making a making a judgment or a competition. It was: “My eyes I can see, my jaw works,  my skin is clear” (laughs) That’s basically all the recognition that I should ever have for myself. I don’t compare my aesthetic comprehension of beauty with someone else which is kind of boring.

EBONY: You also deal with a couple of your relationships with men a few such as Kareem Abdul Jabar, Freddie Prinze and of course Richard Pryor -- none of them ended well…
Grier: Well they did end well. I disagree with you wholeheartedly. With Freddie Prinze it didn’t end badly. He had not been indulging in drugs until he became very successful and I could see that he was going to embrace that world of entertainment and I was not going to have his attention. But it wasn’t bad. I went on to love Pam more. Same with Kareem. I moved on to love Pam more, which is positive. And with Richard, he wanted to see if I had any real influence on him and if he could go cold turkey and not indulge in drugs. He wanted know how he could act being sober. If he could be funny, that was his deepest fear. Will I be funny sober?

EBONY: But in your book you stated that the first time you met Pryor he was high on drugs. Most people would have said: “UH OH trouble!”
Grier: Yes he was doing drugs when I met him, but we didn’t meet again until a few years later when we did Greased Lightening together. He had tried to stop and he used my influence to help him stop. All I could do is say we can try. I’ll try to be an influence for you. But when I realized I could not be successful and so did he, that’s when Pam loves Pam more. A lot of women give up their souls and their self-love to love someone else and that someone else takes them down.

EBONY: You don’t think that you saw yourself as  savoir? That you were trying to “rescue him” which is a trap that a lot of women fall into?
Grier: If you met someone, if you met anyone, would you run away if they an issue? Do you hide from everyone because they have baggage?  Everyone has it.  We’re not perfect human beings. It would be arrogant for me to say I can save them or I won’t be around anyone who has baggage.  It would be very lonely life. However I gave myself a certain amount of time of reality because I could have said: “Oh I’m going to try to save him and stay with him. I’ll lose my career, my family, I wouldn’t be able to do things for Pam. I’ll stay with him”. But I chose not to. In the beginning Freddie didn’t do drugs when I met him. It wasn’t about saving Freddie or saving Kareem trying to get him to change back into Catholicism. I wasn’t trying to change him. We had a traditional relationship of love and respect and growth. How dare me say I was saving him. And Freddie, I couldn’t save him. He called me three days before he died. Nor was I trying to be a savior to Richard. Richard was trying to save himself. When someone wants to indulge in drugs or take their life they’re going to do it and out of that great love and respect I had for all of them, I still chose Pam.
But wait, what’s in your closet? I would like to know what’s in your closet?  What are you hiding? (laughs)

EBONY: No comment! I refuse to answer that! None of your business!
Grier: (laughs) They ought to make a movie about you! (laughs)

EBONY: It would be a film of infinite sorrow. But getting back to you the last chapter of your book is interesting because in it you express your philosophy of life. The journey of self awareness that you went andare still going though. How you found your place in the world and how others can as well.  I can’t recall another book like that.
Grier: Well Tolstoy does it in the last chapter of War and Peace (laughs)

EBONY: Well yes, you’re right. He sure does.
Grier: But to get to your point that is correct. I wanted to share all that I had been given, all that I had survived. I get lot of my “foxiness”, my attitude, my comprehension from listening to people and watching how they present themselves and it tells me a lot about how we are as a community and it’s fascinating! I absolutely love getting in touch with them. I don’t get to as much as I would like to living in Colorado and working from project to project and you don’t get to meet a lot of people. So it’s been so significant for me to share and look into their eyes and to hear about their lives and they hug me. A lot of actors don’t want to be touched or they don’t sign autographs. But I really do adore it when people hug me and they say: “Thank You!” They feel emboldened. They feel confident to know that I would accept it graciously. It’s wonderful. That’s my journey.

EBONY: So the journey is always continuing and never ending?
Grier: No!  It’s a never ending journey.

EBONY: Did you take that from a movie? (laughs)
Grier: I did not!  I made it up just now all by myself. Honest. O.K. then! You get credit for it. (laughs)

Offline Joel Mangrum

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 21
    • View Profile
    • The Dollar Bin
Re: Pam Grier: Interview with an Icon
« Reply #1 on: June 15, 2010, 10:24:50 am »
Great interview.  That woman is pushing 60 and is STILL 10 times sexier than most any other actress today.  Sigourney Weaver gets all the credit as the first female action hero but Pam was kicking ass YEARS before Ripley was. 
Dollar Bin Podcaster

Offline millard52english

  • Newbie
  • Posts: 1
    • View Profile
Re: Pam Grier: Interview with an Icon
« Reply #2 on: July 22, 2010, 10:17:00 pm »

 
from EBONY:

Pam Grier
Interview with an Icon
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
By Sergio Mims
 
Coffy. Foxy Brown. Jackie Brown. The L Word. No need to say anymore. There can be only one person we’re talking about, the one and only Pam Grier, one of the most iconic and dynamic personalities ever in movies with over 120 film and TV roles in her impressive and outstanding career.

After five 5 seasons on Showtime’s “The L Word “and another season on CW Network’s “Smallville”, Grier is currently working on the new film “Larry Crowne “ with Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts and in whatever little time, has left has been touring the country promoting her best selling new autobiography, Foxy, a brutally honest unflinching look at her life, the hard times, the good times, the loves of her life and of course her famous roles.

Recently Ebony had an opportunity to talk to Grier about new book, how she dealt with the tough challenges she faced, her relationships with men and her issues with being a “savior”.

EBONY: To start off , there was an article recently in which the writer posted the question if there were to be a remake today of Coffy and Foxy Brown who would you cast? Of all the responses NO ONE could come up with an actress who could play those parts. That’s why you’re an icon. You’re one of a kind, unique.
Grier: Very interesting! Great observation!

EBONY: But on screen you are, no doubt, a “woman”. These actresses today, most of them come off to me like little girls wearing their mother’s clothes trying to be adult, but missing the mark by a mile.
Grier:  I don’t feel that. They’re all original, very unique because an actor is an unique entity. They come from different spiritual perspectives, different economic situations and generations. We’re all so different.

EBONY: But here’s the point. After reading Foxy, in which you chronicle many difficult experiences you have been through, being raped twice before the age of 18 (once when you were 6), your parents’ separation and divorce, facing discrimination and racism growing up on Colorado, I realized that’s why audiences really responded to you even in your early films like The Big Bird Cage or Coffy. They could somehow sense that, even at the young age, you had experienced a life and faced some real challenges. Today actresses don’t have that anything remotely like that.

Grier: Well they may have, but they’re not revealing it. It would be presumptuous to say it that I’ve lived more than they have. But not everyone recovers or is able to separate themselves from their lives to survive and…who knows? For me, all I could do is just to be present, be me. And yes the depths of emotion that I experienced from a child through adulthood, that I could be able to parlay on the screen. And, yes, there are films with, say, certain reenactments very similar to what I’ve experienced that I may not be able to portray because they’re so close. But being a great actor is a life lived and lessons learned. And I had to write my memoir to share that.

EBONY: And I just about the ask you the obvious question, why did you decide to do your autobiography now?
Grier: Because of so many women and inspirations like Lena Horne, Hatte McDaniel, who went to the same high school in Denver I went to, to Gloria Steinem to Shirley Chisholm to Barbara Jordan. All these women who opened doors for me and helped me to navigate my life and I’m hoping with this memoir will give insight and help others to navigate through their lives and to share my faults. But there was time when people were filled so with self pride or shame that they could not reveal themselves or to their family and they kept so much to themselves which I don’t know is healthy. I see a lot of family dysfunction, sibling dysfunction and relationship dysfunction and that behavior was being passed on to generation to generation to generation. But there are today many counseling services today and group therapy and family therapy for that. But back in the day I didn’t have anyone to speak with to understand humanity, behavior and human nature. And now many years later I’m seeing the same the same abuse, the same behavior. And I have such a compassion and empathy for life and people I thought if I could share some events I went through then people could see they were not alone. As if they’re talking to me and I’m talking to them, to share and help them make another step to feel confident and less uncertain.

EBONY: So writing Foxy for you was in effect a form of catharsis?
Grier: In several ways, yes. It was cathartic, yet it released some evidence of trauma, uncertainty and despair. However many of it stays with you, but doesn’t encompass me. I don’t define myself by my tragedies. I don’t define myself by my age. I define myself by my energy, my great love for living.

EBONY: Which brings up the fact that terrible things that you experienced in your past you then recreated in films like being raped in real life like your character in Foxy Brown. How do you do a scene like that in front of an entire cast and crew without experiencing flashbacks or having breakdown?
Grier: Well you’re split. I was able to be split from that and to be working from almost a “third eye”.  Also many times as I was able to humanize the character, humanize the events , humanizing the iconic status, putting a human embodiment. I’m sure I found a protective corner in my mind where I said I may not be able to do it, I’ll stop when I cannot. But if I can, I’ve been there and if it’s not so frightening and I survived it then let’s show how harmful this can be. That’s how I was able to reenact certain events in my life. It’s called maturity.

EBONY: One of many things I found most surprising in your book is how when you were younger you doubted and were insecure about your looks. YOU? Pam Grier? For real?
Grier: It was not doubting. It was not recognizing that my features were more unique or more attractive than someone else. It was just “there” and there wasn’t a real recognition of the atheistic or appreciation: “Oh my features are so perfect” or making a making a judgment or a competition. It was: “My eyes I can see, my jaw works,  my skin is clear” (laughs) That’s basically all the recognition that I should ever have for myself. I don’t compare my aesthetic comprehension of beauty with someone else which is kind of boring.

EBONY: You also deal with a couple of your relationships with men a few such as Kareem Abdul Jabar, Freddie Prinze and of course Richard Pryor -- none of them ended well…
Grier: Well they did end well. I disagree with you wholeheartedly. With Freddie Prinze it didn’t end badly. He had not been indulging in drugs until he became very successful and I could see that he was going to embrace that world of entertainment and I was not going to have his attention. But it wasn’t bad. I went on to love Pam more. Same with Kareem. I moved on to love Pam more, which is positive. And with Richard, he wanted to see if I had any real influence on him and if he could go cold turkey and not indulge in drugs. He wanted know how he could act being sober. If he could be funny, that was his deepest fear. Will I be funny sober?

EBONY: But in your book you stated that the first time you met Pryor he was high on drugs. Most people would have said: “UH OH trouble!”
Grier: Yes he was doing drugs when I met him, but we didn’t meet again until a few years later when we did Greased Lightening together. He had tried to stop and he used my influence to help him stop. All I could do is say we can try. I’ll try to be an influence for you. But when I realized I could not be successful and so did he, that’s when Pam loves Pam more. A lot of women give up their souls and their self-love to love someone else and that someone else takes them down.

EBONY: You don’t think that you saw yourself as  savoir? That you were trying to “rescue him” which is a trap that a lot of women fall into?
Grier: If you met someone, if you met anyone, would you run away if they an issue? Do you hide from everyone because they have baggage?  Everyone has it.  We’re not perfect human beings. It would be arrogant for me to say I can save them or I won’t be around anyone who has baggage.  It would be very lonely life. However I gave myself a certain amount of time of reality because I could have said: “Oh I’m going to try to save him and stay with him. I’ll lose my career, my family, I wouldn’t be able to do things for Pam. I’ll stay with him”. But I chose not to. In the beginning Freddie didn’t do drugs when I met him. It wasn’t about saving Freddie or saving Kareem trying to get him to change back into Catholicism. I wasn’t trying to change him. We had a traditional relationship of love and respect and growth. How dare me say I was saving him. And Freddie, I couldn’t save him. He called me three days before he died. Nor was I trying to be a savior to Richard. Richard was trying to save himself. When someone wants to indulge in drugs or take their life they’re going to do it and out of that great love and respect I had for all of them, I still chose Pam.
But wait, what’s in your closet? I would like to know what’s in your closet?  What are you hiding? (laughs)

EBONY: No comment! I refuse to answer that! None of your business!
Grier: (laughs) They ought to make a movie about you! (laughs)

EBONY: It would be a film of infinite sorrow. But getting back to you the last chapter of your book is interesting because in it you express your philosophy of life. The journey of self awareness that you went andare still going though. How you found your place in the world and how others can as well.  I can’t recall another book like that.
Grier: Well Tolstoy does it in the last chapter of War and Peace (laughs)

EBONY: Well yes, you’re right. He sure does.
Grier: But to get to your point that is correct. I wanted to share all that I had been given, all that I had survived. I get lot of my “foxiness”, my attitude, my comprehension from listening to people and watching how they present themselves and it tells me a lot about how we are as a community and it’s fascinating! I absolutely love getting in touch with them. I don’t get to as much as I would like to living in Colorado and working from project to project and you don’t get to meet a lot of people. So it’s been so significant for me to share and look into their eyes and to hear about their lives and they hug me. A lot of actors don’t want to be touched or they don’t sign autographs. But I really do adore it when people hug me and they say: “Thank You!” They feel emboldened. They feel confident to know that I would accept it graciously. It’s wonderful. That’s my journey.

EBONY: So the journey is always continuing and never ending?
Grier: No!  It’s a never ending journey.

EBONY: Did you take that from a movie? (laughs)
Grier: I did not!  I made it up just now all by myself. Honest. O.K. then! You get credit for it. (laughs)




An amazing interview......