Jenifer Lewis Joins a New Club

The Hollywood veteran talks about her new role in NBC's The Playboy Club, bipolar disorder and her best moments of 2011.

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What a time! Kids today have no idea. I tell my daughter, "Look at a picture of Mandela and see whose shoulders you are standing on. See how fragile they are and honor that."

TR: Do you sing in the series?

JL: Absolutely. In a few episodes.

 TR: Most people in show business either act or sing or do comedy. But you do all three. How did that happen?

JL: I was given a gift, and it's a gift that I've honored all my life. I never wanted to become just one thing.

TR: What did it take to succeed?

JL: I never gave up. I never quit. I've been a leader all my life, from elementary school to president of my class to excelling at college. I had a dream, and my dream sustained me. I wasn't going to let anything stand in my way. I was like a meteorite. I wanted to become a star. It's been quite a journey.

TR: When did you know you wanted to perform?

JL: Straight out of my mother. I sang in church at 5. When I saw the reaction, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.

TR: What are some highlights of the last few years?