LYNN WHIT­FIELD TALKS GOD AND THE PAS­SION OF FAITH

CityPress - - Front Page - ZAMAYIRHA PETER [email protected]­press.co.za

With churches and re­li­gion un­der the mi­cro­scope af­ter world­wide scan­dalous ex­posés of the in­fi­delity of pas­tors, rape in the church and mis­use of power, ac­tress Lynn Whit­field be­lieves lead­er­ship should take the blame.

Whit­field was in the coun­try to pro­mote the drama se­ries Green­leaf, in which she plays Lady Mae, the ma­tri­arch of the Green­leaf fam­ily and first lady of their Mem­phis megachurch.

The show, which pre­miered in 2016 and is in its third sea­son on Net­flix, gives au­di­ences a front-row seat of the story of how the church has got to the point where it’s at right now.

Green­leaf made its lo­cal debut on e.tv ear­lier this year. The chan­nel will broad­cast the sec­ond sea­son next year, af­ter the se­ries re­ceived high praise and rat­ings. It tells a fa­mil­iar, but some­times un­told story of the mis­use of power and chal­lenges within the church.

This week, the pop­u­lar ac­tress spoke about her char­ac­ter and ca­reer.

“I have had the bless­ing of hav­ing a good pas­tor and first lady, who re­ally helped me in one of the hard­est times of my life. [I was] go­ing through a tough divorce and I saw how those [pas­toral] po­si­tions are im­por­tant and pow­er­ful at sav­ing souls. As I moved on and out of Los An­ge­les, I saw this megachurch move­ment start to garner cred­its that were not about sav­ing souls or be­ing a true shep­herd to a flock of sheep. And I was so dis­cour­aged by so many church lead­ers … and how peo­ple had been com­pletely turned off from God, when what had dis­ap­pointed them had noth­ing to do with God … It had to do with lead­er­ship and man, so when Green­leaf came along I said I would love to do it if we would deal with is­sues head-on … and that made it ap­peal­ing.”

A strug­gle for many artists is be­ing type­cast by film di­rec­tors and pro­duc­ers, and Whit­field agrees this is some­times the case.

“I think Hol­ly­wood feels more com­fort­able hir­ing peo­ple for what they do well … I don’t think they are happy tak­ing risks at all.

“Yes, I do get type­cast and then it’s up to me to find the nu­ances of each one of these women that make them dif­fer­ent … but I think Hol­ly­wood does type­cast.”

Like any other ac­tress, Whit­field con­fessed to hav­ing chal­lenges: “You all see times when I am work­ing, not when I am not work­ing … you all see the roles that I got and not the ones I didn’t get. My big­gest chal­lenge is to em­brace so­cial me­dia and cre­ate plat­forms for my­self that will keep me work­ing be­cause of my fol­low­ers … be­cause things are chang­ing … but it’s hard for me to stop life … share life…”

About find­ing a suit­able so­cial me­dia man­ager, Whit­field said: “I’ve been through a few mil­len­ni­als and they have been al­right and I just have to find the right per­son … it’s a new way of do­ing things and I have to find the joy in it.” The ac­tress and pro­ducer loves our coun­try. “Oh my God! I love South Africa … I was here right af­ter Christ­mas and into the New Year … but this year I will be home to visit my mother over Christ­mas.”

At 65 years young and with many ac­co­lades, in­clud­ing a Prime­time Emmy for Out­stand­ing Lead Ac­tress in a Minis­eries, a Golden Globe nom­i­na­tion for her per­for­mance as Josephine Baker in the HBO bio­graph­i­cal drama film The Josephine Baker Story (1991) and be­ing a five­time Na­tional As­so­ci­a­tion for the Ad­vance­ment of Col­ored Peo­ple Im­age Award re­cip­i­ent, Whit­field hopes to one day move to the direc­tor’s seat, but feels happy as an ac­tress – for now.

I have had the bless­ing of hav­ing a good pas­tor and first lady, who re­ally helped me in one of the hard­est times of my life

PHOTO: ROSETTA MSIMANGO

LIKE FINE WINE Amer­i­can ac­tress and pro­ducer Lynn Whit­field at the e.tv of­fices in Jo­han­nes­burg

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