4 Questions With Treme’s Wendell Pierce

The actor and Clybourne Park producer hopes a play about race makes you laugh in an uncomfortable way.

Wendell Pierce (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)
Wendell Pierce (Andrew H. Walker/Getty Images)

TR: Does producing allow you a better vehicle for creating that type of experience than acting does — and will you keep doing it?

WP: I’ve always done both, and I’ll continue to do both concurrently. Producing is just as creative as acting for me. The reason I became a part of Clybourne Park is because of the actors on the stage marrying their talent with the material — I was like, I want to see this art grow. I love this play, I love these actors, this director. 

Right now I’m shooting the third season of Treme; in January I’m dong a movie called Parker; and this summer I’m going to be filming in Paris — hopefully a movie, Mobilius.

TR: Clybourne Park deals with race through the lens of segregated neighborhoods. In your real life, I know you’ve taken on the issue of access to healthy food in black communities. Talk about that.

WP: First of all, obesity is a personal challenge for me. If you see me, you know I’m fighting a battle with obesity. So it’s a very personal issue for me. And I saw that health was something that needed attention in underserved communities in New Orleans as we try to recover in the city — there was a scarcity of access to fresh food. There are food deserts.

So I was inspired by Michelle Obama’s initiative and saw an opportunity to do well and do good by putting Sterling Farms stores in areas that didn’t have access to fresh, healthy food; we also have convenience stores called Sterling Express. So we have three [Sterling Farms] stores in process right now and one convenience store open.

Read The Roots review of a previous staging of Clybourne Park here.

Jenée Desmond-Harris is The Root’s staff writer.

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