Janesha Jones thegrio.com
After working in the film industry for over three decades, Loretta Devine has become a notable name for many households.
She gifted people with a reason to laugh after her flirting scene with Gregory Hines in Waiting to Exhale and used her soft and unmistakable voice in the cartoon sitcom, The PJ’s. Not to mention, she’s probably been on a lot of families’ television screens around Christmas time after playing the stern but loving mother on This Christmas.
Now the actress, who emerged all the way from Houston, Texas, is doing things on screen a little bit differently. This time, she’s giving her fans a chance to get to know her on a more personal level. TV One’s Uncensored kicked off its fourth season Sunday with Devine being the first featured celebrity of the season. This is one of the first times Devine is the center of a documentary series where she will open up about her personal life from how she got into the industry, to the Oscars, to her marriage to Glenn Marshall.
When asked how she felt about talking about her life, she told theGrio’s Janesha Jones, “I was a little unnerved by it and it probably shows in the actual taping because I didn’t know exactly what questions they were going to ask me or what I was going to talk about.”
While most people know Devine for her acting projects, there are a few that know she can also sing, especially if they have been a fan since her Dreamgirls days.
Before she started booking gigs on television, she was in New York doing musicals and plays. She eventually came across a role that would still be talked about to this day – an original Dreamgirl. The Broadway musical took place in 1981 with Jennifer Holliday playing Effie White, Sheryl Lee Ralph as Deena, and Devine as Lorell. However, as her career has grown Devine’s acting roles began to require her to do less and less singing.
But that doesn’t mean her love for singing has diminished. In fact, she has even written some of her own songs but has yet to sit down and focus on releasing them because, according to her, “I’m always working.”
“You know, I have all these original songs I’ve written them and stuff like that,” she said and later added, “I would like for people to hear the things I created myself since I always do everybody else’s stuff.”
The 72-year-old revealed that putting more of her focus on music is difficult not only because she’s always working on set, but also, “when you try to sell an idea to somebody, it’s always much harder. You’ve got to prove that it’s going to be fabulous,” whereas for acting, “It feels real easy and natural.”
While she may not be up for releasing any music just yet, one thing fans can count on is for her to be working on a movie or show. Her latest film Queen Bees with co-stars Ellen Burstyn and Ann-Margret was released on June 11. Now she’s working on the set of a new Christmas film called Christmas In Harmony that will hopefully be released this upcoming holiday. Since her time of being on numerous different stages and sets, she’s realized some obvious changes in the film industry.
“There’s more diversity in things,” she said.
Devine continued, “I see more Black women in the front in projects.”
She went on to name Taraji P. Henson, Viola Davis, Cynthia Ervio as just a few women that she has seen take the lead in a film or series. But, in her opinion, it’s time that some of the changes that are happening on screen to be made behind the scenes as well.
“There are things that are going on that people would like to discuss, but don’t dare discuss because they don’t want their culture canceled,” she said with a laugh. “So they don’t say anything about it.”
But there is hope that things will get better. Devine’s Dreamgirls co-star Ralph is currently running for VP of the Los Angeles local SAG-AFTRA or Screen Actors Guild – American Federation of Television and Radio Artists, “in hopes of change.”
With over 30 years in the game, Devine’s prominent career has not gone unnoticed. She’s received nine NAACP awards and a Primetime Emmy Award but the true question is has she been given her flowers yet? With the loss of several artists and celebrities like NBA legend Kobe Bryant, and Black Panther’s Chadwick Boseman, there have been many discussions among fans about making sure to “give people their flowers while they can still smell them.”
Devine’s response to that is, “I feel like I get flowers all the time.”
She talked about a young girl she is working with on the set of Christmas In Harmony and how on set “she was watching [Devine] so intensely because, “she watches Family Reunion” which is a series Devine stars in on Netflix; so the young girl was starstruck so to speak. For people to see someone they’ve watched “in the bedroom, it becomes important in a lot of ways.”
With that, Devine said, “Those are sort of like ‘flowers’ that make you make lives of so many people happier or better. So I feel like I get my ‘flowers’ a lot.”
Watch some of Devine’s feature on TV One’s Uncensored below.
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