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At 64, Angela Bassett Is on Fire. Lucky for Us

NextTribe caught up with the Oscar-nominated Black Panther actress and learned how she keeps the hits and the happiness rolling.

Don’t believe the conventional wisdom that careers inevitably slow down after age 60. Angela Bassett is defying gravity . . . as well as the laws of Hollywood. Her career is smoking hot after the immense popularity of the films Black Panther and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, in which she plays Ramonda, the Black Panther’s formidable mother. She won a Golden Globe this year for that role and was nominated for an Oscar—the first time a character from a Marvel movie has been so honored. Then, she was named in Time Magazine‘s 100 Most Influential People in the World roster last month.

And did we mention that her hit TV drama, 9-1-1, will be coming to screens for its seventh season?

Reflecting on her recent achievements, 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 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 said.

Read More: Sally Field’s Moving Acceptance Speech: “Easy Is Overrated!”

What Tina Turner Has to Do with It

One of her best known roles was as Tina Turner in the biopic What’s Love Got to Do with It?. That part earned her an Oscar nomination.

Here’s what Tina Turner herself said about Bassett in a tribute for the Time Magazine honors last month: “[Your gift is] becoming your character with conviction, truth, dignity, and grace, even when it’s painful, and takes everything you have and more. It’s not just acting, it’s being. Whether you’re Tina Turner or the Queen of Wakanda, we believe in you because you believe in yourself.”

‘We believe in you because you believe in yourself.’

She has portrayed many other real-life heroines on screen and television, including Betty Shabazz (i.e., Malcom X’s wife), Coretta Scott King, Katherine Jackson (i.e., 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

Bassett and Vance with their twins at this year’s Oscar ceremony. Image: Angela Bassett/Instagram

Angela Bassett and her husband, actor Courtney B. Vance, have that unusual Hollywood achievement: a long marriage. The two met at Yale Drama School, have been married for 25 years, and have teenaged 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,” she said. “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.”

However, the two have a production company together, and their movie, Heist 88, starring Vance, was recently picked up for Showtime.

Her 9-1-1 Moment

Beyond Black Panther and her family, Bassett is busy with  9-1-1. 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,” said Bassett. “It’s an interesting pairing; it seems to work!”

‘It was just getting unwieldy [and] smoky. 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.”

Read More: Grammy Winner Bonnie Raitt Proves She Ain’t Done Yet

This article was adapted from one previously published in September 2018. 

By Susan Hornik


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