CHEERS!!! I remember seeing the remake of SHAFT back in 2000 starring Samuel L. Jackson. The movie was cool, but what I liked and remembered most about it was “Peoples” Hernadez, (A spanish king-pin) played CONVINCINGLY by Jeffrey Wright: Up until then, I had never seen or heard of him.
A couple of years later, word started buzzing about in the hip-hop industry that rapper Mos Def was starring in a play called “TOP DOG/UNDERDOG.” As I inquired about it, I found out that Jeffrey Wright was in it as well and due to my ignorance, I would say,..”WORD? Peoples from SHAFT is in a play with MOS DEF? That’s dope.” Dope? Yes..but HOW WRONG was I? First off, props to Mos Def; But as it turned out…Mos was in a play WITH Jeffrey Wright. (Jeffrey was nominated for a Tony in his role as “Lincoln”.)
Little by little I started to see Jeffrey in so many different things; Boycott, (where he played Martin Luther King) Syrianna, Casino Royale, Cadillac Records, Quantum of Solace, etc. And was like…”Yo, this dude ain’t even spanish.” “He’s just that INCREDIBLE as an actor, and I would to meet him one day. So, HOW excited was I when he stopped by the show to promote the new film he’s in, BROKEN CITY? SUPER!
I wanted to know “HOW he mastered that spanish accent in Shaft?” But instead we played a clip of his character speaking about Tiger Woods in the film and he volunteered some other information. He revealed that while traveling abroad, he decided to change the dialogue from the original person they wanted him to speak about in the script to, Tiger Woods. He said he thought Tiger was more interesting, more topical. The way he broke down and explained so many different things, you would be a fool not to ask him…”HOW and WHY he even started acting in the first place?”
He said, “Acting had ALWAYS been in the back of my head, even as a little kid…but I was afraid.” “Afraid, that the words wouldn’t come out, that I wouldn’t be able to get the words out.” He also shared that while in college, as a Political Science major, he decided to go see a friend who was acting in a play. He never said whether the friend was good or not; Or if the friend ever became famous, but he did say….”After seeing my friend, I said to myself, I CAN ATLEAST DO THAT.” “So, I took the same acting class my friend took and here am I 20 some odd years later.”
Jeffrey will be in “HUNGER GAMES II” and he also revealed that he’s hearing whispers of another Bond film as well. I told him that I wanted him to do voice over work, (because his natural voice is sorta James Earl Jones-ish) but I was SHOCKED when he asked me…”DID you have any suggestions?” Without hesitation, I said “YES!…You can be the voice that wakes me up EVERY morning.” Haha!!! Everyone laughed, included him; But for real…I shoulda recorded him saying, “Good Morning HB.”
FYI> I wasn’t flirting, because I also found out that he’s married to actress Carmen Ejogo: She’s the one that played “Sister” Williams in the “Sparkle” remake and they have 2 kids!
I thought about him alot though…after he left the studio: How CONFIDENT he now is in his gift. I also couldn’t stop thinking about how he went from something being “in the back of his head” to “being afraid” to “what he saw” to what he “chose to believe” (about himself) that ultimately changed the course of his life. I mean c’mon, we all see/have seen things and possibly look with some sort of admiration or even envy, but how many of us are willing to do what it takes to accomplish those things?
As much as I can, I tell people….YES! You do have a gift, but it’s FEAR and REJECTION that stops most folks from developing their gifts and seeing their dreams come true. Real talk, Jeffrey Wright’s confidence was CONTAGIOUS! It reminded me that you must continue to fight fear and rejection like they’re trying to steal your wallet. It reminded me to keep treating haters like INFORMERCIALS> I hear you and see you, but I’m not BUYING IT. And lastly, to NEVER forget that GOD has purposely given EACH one of us something UNIQUE and it is doing no good, “in the back of your head.”