4 Questions With Malinda Williams
She talks of her role in The Undershepherd, now screening at the American Black Film Festival 2012.
MW: It's interesting because the issues that we're dealing with here just so happen to be set in the black church, but they aren't necessarily exclusive to religion or to the black church. These are issues that can happen at any institution, whether it's an educational institution, political atmosphere, corporate America. It's really about the corruption of power. It's really about people who can't handle the responsibilities of that much power.
TR: Some of the other films you've done have been comedies. How important is it for you not to be considered just a comedic actress?
MW: I always try to tell the truth. Sometimes the truth is funny, and sometimes the truth makes you cry. To me, there really isn't a difference. There's a fine line between drama and comedy ... Some of the best comedic actors or the best comedians have a lot of drama in their lives, and they're really just offering relief or looking for relief from the drama. Out of that comes comedy.
TR: Russ Parr has been emerging as a filmmaker who is giving black actors a chance to get on-screen. How do you feel about the state of indie film and the opportunities that may be available because of directors like him?
MW: I really admire and applaud Russ because he's getting it done ... in a way that is meaningful. People like myself are looking for projects [like the ones] Russ produces because Russ always starts with the most important element, which to me is a great script.
You can have the money, you can have the distribution channels, you can have a great crew, you can have a great cast. But if you don't have a great script, then ultimately you're not going to have a great project. Russ is definitely one to watch in terms of putting out great projects. He writes from his heart, and that's really important.
Brett Johnson is associate editor at The Root. Follow him on Twitter.