Saturday, February 26, 2011

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Jackée Harry's "Ideal Husband" - Part Two

In Part One of our interview with the unsinkable Jackée Harry, the Emmy-winning actress discussed her role on the exciting new GMC network film The Ideal Husband, premiering tonight, February 26th, at 7 p.m. ET (and again at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.), beginning on ANOTHER WORLD, and regrets about her illustrious career.  In Part Two below, Harry reveals her feelings about 227, how her religion has helped her reconcile her career choices, and offers insight for those who also have been targeted unfairly in their jobs. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: When 227 came your way you had a choice to make.  You wanted to do dramatic roles, yet you were presented with the opportunity to do a sitcom.
Jackée Harry: Yes, that messed me up. 

Jackée Harry: I never got to be the person I thought I was going to be, which was this grand diva actress.  It just didn’t happen that way.  I hate the fact that I never got the chance to show off my acting chops.  That’s what I mean by that. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Some people may think that creating this beloved character and winning an Emmy...
Jackée Harry: Would be the apex of my career?  No.  But I guess I’m just going to be the black Betty White.  I’ll work until it gets even better.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV:  How would you have wanted things to turn out for you?
Jackée Harry: That I would win the first Oscar [laughs].  What I mean by that is that my role model is the late Diana Sands.  She was in Raisin In The Sun. I wanted to be her.  I thought, “Why can’t I be her?” She died, she never won an Oscar.  She was 39 when she died of cancer.  She was who I modeled my career after.  That’s who I wanted to be.  Rosalind Cash too, in the same mold. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Ironically, Whoopi Goldberg was one of the first African-American actresses to win an Oscar for a role that you almost took.
Jackée Harry: Yes, for Ghost.  Don’t remind me.  But I love Whoopi.  We worked together on EVERYBODY HATES CHRIS. She’s a wonderful woman.  She’s witty, sexy, vivacious.  If you get to know her you know why she is loved. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And yes, as we said earlier, sometimes there is another road we are meant to take.
Jackée Harry: The road you don’t even know about.  The road not taken.  Sometimes you don’t even know it’s there.  You may take the road you thought you wanted to take, but the other road says, “No, I’m still here.”  And there you go. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: For one reason or another your road has been to bring laughter and smiles to people’s living room.  Why do you think that is?
Jackée Harry: I don’t know.  I really don’t.  I’m glad I’m able to do it but I don’t have a clue why that is.  My mother said I was a natural comedian.  But who knows, ain’t nothing but Jesus!

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Are you a spiritual or religious woman?
Jackée Harry: Yes, I’m a Baptist.  Born and bread. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Does your religion help you to reconcile where your life is today versus where you wanted it to be?
Jackée Harry: Definitely.  It’s called Divine Guidance and protection.  I accept it.  I don’t go about my day and hope something happens. I make it happen.  But I do go about my day knowing I’m guided by God.  It doesn’t just help me, it’s just a fact.  I’ve tried to just go to my auditions, and that doesn’t work for me.  You work in a vacuum, you become a workaholic and superficial.  I didn’t like that.  I like some emotion in my life.  I like some warmth, I like to be there for my friends.  You’ve got to have some connection to the world, you can’t just be about money and career.  In this part of my life I’m trying to be a better friend more than ever...without getting stomped on. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You’ve spoken openly in interviews about the tension that existed between you and Marla Gibbs while 227 was on the air. 
Jackée Harry: That was years ago.  That’s old hat.  I can’t even get back to those old days. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I know that myself and many of our readers have been in work situations where we have been the recipient of a jealous coworker’s projections.  What might you say to someone who is in that situation now?
Jackée Harry: I say to young girls, “Just go for it.  It takes courage.  When you stand out people don’t like it.  If you’re going to stand out you have to know you are going to get some enemies.  So go for it, but you’d better know that’s what you really want.  It takes courage to be successful.  Don’t be afraid of people being jealous of you and not liking you and trying to covet what you have.  If it’s yours then you have to go out and take it.”

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Being successful means becoming the target of misplaced hostilities.
Jackée Harry:  Right.  But they’re not going to be in your life like that.  So I always say, “Water seeks its own level.”  Meaning you have to be around other successful people to flourish.  You can’t be with people who don’t have your dream in mind.  Because they don’t know what you’re talking about and it’s not fair to them.  That’s what is called growing apart.  What does growing apart mean?  It means you witness and experience something and the other person doesn’t know what the hell you are talking about.  You’ve got to go where people get you.  That’s the only way to succeed and keep growing.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What would you like to see next in your career?
Jackée Harry: I would like to see a series with JD Lawrence.  We just did a play called "The Clean-Up Woman." We are getting ready to do another one at the Warner Theater in Washington DC called "I’ll Always Love My Mamma." It’s a Mother’s Day tribute.  He’s written all these wonderful shows and written me a great part in all the shows.  I’m hoping to show off my real comedy chops, which believe it or not, I have not shown to my full potential.  Lucille Ball and Mae West are my comedic idols.  Like I said, I’m the black Betty White, I like to show some live humor.  Agnes Moorehead was an idol too.  Agnes Moorehead was a great dramatic actress. Then she did BEWITCHED and that’s what we remember her for.  I’d like to be Endora.  I’d like to do stuff like that, like Auntie Mame. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you enjoy doing theater?
Jackée Harry: Not eight shows a week, I’ll tell you that much.  I’d rather do TV and movies.  But I can do theater when called upon.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: If you could go back to 1983, right before you started on ANOTHER WORLD, and give yourself a piece of advice, what would that be?
Jackée Harry: “Read the script first and then go from there. Don’t assume that everyone knows what they are talking about.” When I started on ANOTHER WORLD I only had two lines.  Same with 227, I had a little part and it grew.  “If you really want to go that way then go that way.  But if you’re not interested in going on that path, be it comedy or musicals, don’t go that way if it makes you unhappy.”

I wasn’t unhappy but I didn’t know how it would turn out.   I just took it. It turned out nice.  But sometimes you can make a mistake.  So, "Make sure that’s the way you want to go.  Heavy is the head that wears the crown.  You don’t have to back off from it, but know that maybe it’s not you.”  I would have given it more thought that I did.  I just went and got a job.  I just wanted to make some money and go back home.  It didn’t happen that way.  I would tell someone to plan their career a little better than I did.

EDITOR'S NOTE: Don't miss the fabulous and outspoken Jackée Harry TONIGHT in the new movie The Ideal HusbandYou can also go to to find get listings for future viewings. 

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist now accepting new clients in New York City.  He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve," currently available at For more information about scheduling an appointment, please email him at [email protected].

1 comment:

  1. Ms. Harry's introduction to AW came around the time I started watching. Those Cass-Cecile-Felicia-Wallingford-Lily-Kathleen-Crystal Lake-Tony the Tuna years were amazing.

    This was the time when Carl was introduced and was constantly controlling his son Perry and purring at his "Bella Donna". At that time, I thought Carl could easily be AW's Victor Newman.

    This was the era where Marley/Vicky and Jake and Bridget were introduced.

    So much fun. Catlin & Sally were ideal "lovers on the run". AW was consistently the funniest soap.

    That was a fairly short lived period, but it was a terrific one where AW used its entire cast in a funny, intergenerational way.