You could say that fire is the theme of Angela Bassett’s year. Her career is smoking hot after the immense popularity of the film Black Panther, in which she plays Ramonda, the Black Panther’s formidable mother. She also starred in another mega-hit this year, Mission Impossible: Fallout. Then there’s her FOX show, Rescue 9-1-1, which is starting its second successful season.
Reflecting on 2018, she says, “Of course we thought Black Panther would do well, very well, but not to that extent that it would silence everything!” When NextTribe chatted with her at the FOX portion of the recent Television Critics Press Tour, she explained that she doesn’t care which medium she works in; she is just happy to have quality roles offered to her.
“I love film and television and the stage as well!” she enthused.
One of her best known roles was as Tina Turner in the bio-pic, What’s Love Got to Do With It. That part earned her an Oscar nomination. She has portrayed many other real life heroines on screen and television, including Betty Shabazz (Malcom X’s wife), Coretta Scott King, Katherine Jackson (Michael Jackson’s mother), and Rosa Parks.
It’s long been a standard complaint about the entertainment industry that there are not enough good roles for women over 40, but the tide seems to be turning.
“With so many platforms now, you’ve got to have content, so there are places for good stories to come to life,” says Bassett, who has also appeared in and directed episodes of American Horror Story.
Bassett is a big believer in being open to what’s ahead. “You never know when around what corner, some great opportunity will show up,” she explains. “Stay healthy, stay focused, stay ready. It’s always when you least expect [it] when things happen.”
Angela Bassett: Successfully Mixing Work and Family
Angela Bassett and her husband, actor Courtney B. Vance, have that unusual Hollywood achievement: a long marriage. The two met at Yale Drama School and have been married for 21 years and have tween-aged twins.
We don’t want to be as close as twins!
While Bassett has done theater with her husband,, she says they’ve “barely” done a movie together, so there’s always a possibility of collaborating, but she’s not sure if that’s the right move.
“He’s a phenomenal actor. But sometimes, I don’t mind keeping our worlds separate. You follow your dream, I follow mine and then we come back together. Even with my twins, I try to put them in separate classes!” she says. Of her marriage, she notes, “We don’t want to be as close as twins! But if the project is right, then the timing will be right.”
Bassett is open to the idea of her kids becoming actors. “I just want them to feel passionate and love whatever they do.”
Her 911 Moment
Beyond Black Panther and her family, Bassett is busy with the second season of her television series, FOX’s Rescue 9-1-1, which airs on Monday nights. Bassett’s character, Athena Grant, is a cool and composed LAPD patrol sergeant who is currently in a relationship with a younger man, a captain played by co-star Peter Krause.
“They both have gone through a lot. It’s an interesting pairing; it seems to work!” said Bassett.
It was getting smoky and more than we could handle. I said, ‘Call 911!’
The procedural drama series explores the constant high-pressure environment that police officers, paramedics, and firefighters face when dealing with crisis situations.
Bassett has gotten some inside knowledge of the operation of emergency services. Offscreen, she got a wee bit frazzled after a crazy fireplace incident with her friend that ended up with a call to 911.
“I’ve called them once, because—well, I’ll say that I’m a Florida girl,” she quipped. “So fireplaces aren’t usually a thing! They’re electric or something like that. A girlfriend and I, we tried to start a fire at my house. And it got out of hand. I doused it with water, and it wouldn’t really kind of go out!”
Bassett proceeded to get out the pancake spatula as her fire-fighting tool. “I was trying to pick up the log and toss it outside. It was just getting unwieldy [and] smoky. I said, ‘Call 911’ We have to do it!’
“Three firemen came to the door in that full gear. They were very handsome, I have to say! And yes, they took care of it.”
Susan L. Hornik is a veteran entertainment and lifestyle journalist. She is an expert at making lemonade from lemons.