Monday, June 27, 2011

Q&A: Raven-Symoné to Georgias Everywhere: It Doesn't Get Any Easier, Sweetheart

Best known for her role in the Emmy nominated comedy series THAT'S SO RAVEN for the Disney Channel, Raven-Symoné garnered three NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Performance in a Youth/Children's Series/Special, two Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards for Favorite Television Actress and a Young Artist Award for Outstanding Young Performer. THAT'S SO RAVEN received the 2008 NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Children's Series/Special and was nominated for two primetime Emmy Awards for Outstanding Children's Program in 2005 and 2007. Raven was named producer for the series' fourth season, which aired in 2007.

Raven's film credits include Roger Kumble's College Road Trip, opposite Martin Lawrence, Garry Marshall's The Princess Diaries 2: Royal Engagement, opposite Anne Hathaway and Julie Andrews, and Dr. Dolittle and Dr. Dolittle 2, opposite Eddie Murphy. Her role in Dr. Dolittle 2 earned her two award nominations, an NAACP Image Award for Outstanding Youth Actor/Actress and a Nickelodeon Kid's Choice Award for Favorite Female Star. On television, Raven starred as Olivia on the critically acclaimed THE COSBY SHOW, for which she received the Young Artist Award for Exceptional Performance by a Young Actress Under Nine. She also starred on the comedy series HANGING' WITH MR. COOPER for four seasons.

Raven is a humanitarian who addresses issues of concern to children. She is very active with the Make-A-Wish Foundation, fulfilling the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. She is also involved with Girls Incorporated, a national nonprofit youth organization dedicated to inspiring all girls to be strong, smart and bold by providing vital educational programs to millions of American girls, particularly those in high-risk, underserved areas.

She is now starring in STATE OF GEORGIA, the new half-hour multi-cam comedy series, as Georgia, an aspiring actress with a larger than life personality and her science geek best friend who try to make headway in New York City. STATE OF GEORGIA, premiering June 29 at 8:30 p.m. ET, is executive produced by Kirk J. Rudell and Jennifer Weiner (author of the best-selling novels "Good in Bed", and "In Her Shoes". Majandra Delfino also stars as Jo and Loretta Devine as Aunt Honey. WE LOVE SOAPS TV recently participated in a Q&A with the talented young actress. Read it below:

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: If Georgia were a real person that you were mentoring, what would you tell her about her future?
Raven-Symoné: What would I tell Georgia about her future? That it doesn't get any easier, sweetheart, it doesn’t get any easier. It's still a grind no matter how famous you become and you have to do things that you don't want to do to start, and then when you think you've made it, things will just drag you down and make you start over again, and you have to keep the confidence up and you have to keep your friends and family close.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you have sort of a guilty pleasure TV show that you wouldn't mind sharing with us?
Raven-Symoné: A guilty pleasure TV show? MAN V. FOOD.

How easy was it for you to get into the character with Georgia, since you're originally from Atlanta?
Raven-Symoné: Well, actually Georgia and I would have grown up in different parts of Atlanta, and so it was actually interesting being able to play someone that - I guess her and I would have been a little bit different ends of the school. So it was fun actually getting to play that character and blending it in to who I am now and finding a happy medium, so I'm no longer mad at the cheerleaders that I grew up with, because now it works for Georgia.

How did it feel to be a trending topic yesterday on Twitter? Do you pay attention to that stuff online?
Raven-Symoné: Everyone in my camp does. I was asleep when it happened. I love my twitterers for making me trendy for that one moment in time, and hopefully I can stay trendy for many moments to come.

What are you enjoying the most about working on State of Georgia?
Raven-Symoné: I enjoy working with Majandra Delfino and Loretta Devine. They're absolutely amazing; I'm learning so much from Miss Loretta and Majandra and just how to morph myself into different things and relearning more acting tips and tricks, and being able to create a new family.

How would you compare the role of Georgia with some other roles from your past?
Raven-Symoné: She is a strong-willed individual, she could be flighty at times, but at the same time she is very gallant and she knows that her core is the passing moment and that's probably a characteristic in characters that I choose all the time because it’s very important for females to stay confident and to go off and venture into the world, but to come back knowing that you have family to come back to. I think some forget to venture and then they just get stuck; because you have to go and enjoy yourself.

Could you describe the show a little more?
Raven-Symoné: The show is about a young lady who moves to New York with her best friend into her Aunt Honey where Loretta Devine has a condo in New York, she wants to become famous. And her best friend is a physicist or she's trying to become one, and it's the trials and tribulations of these two girls having a great time in New York, taking odd jobs here and there, trying to find their way, while having that Down South, more homey type vibe to them, it's fun.

Can you tell us more about a favorite scene or an episode that you've already filmed?
Raven-Symoné: There's so many different areas that we touch in each episode that it's going to be hard for me to actually, because there's one's where we're singing, there's ones where we're just dressing up, there's ones where we're doing standup comedy, and I have such a deep bowl of things that I love to do, it's hard for me to think just one.

What was it about this particular role that drew you back to television?
Raven-Symoné: Well actually before this role came to my attention I had already sold the pilot to ABC Family with another writer, and while that was in the works, they came to me and said, “Well, we have a pilot ready to go, we think that you would like it.” I read it and I said, “Sure, you never know: this might go, it might not go,” just more fires out there the better. And so that's what happened, but this one just got picked up super quick. We got a wonderful cast and here we are.

Was there instant chemistry when you began working with Majandra and Loretta, or did you guys take a bit of time to gel together?
Raven-Symoné: Instant chemistry. No question about it.

Why do you think people want to tune in to watch State of Georgia?
Raven-Symoné: Well I hope they want to tune in so they can be happy and laugh.

What was it specifically about Georgia that made you want to play her?
Raven-Symoné: I think she's a great character. She goes in line with the other characters that I've played before. She is probably a good mold of what this generation is, but will never be able to get famous super quick over Twitter.

Do you have any desire to do anything else, or is acting it for you?
Raven-Symoné: It's a lot of desires to do other things, but I have to finish the party, and I'm going to work on other things as well..

How involved are you with wardrobe?
Raven-Symoné: Not a lot. I come in and I just, you have to think in the Georgia sense. I think as the character grows she'll get more into whatever she wants them to, but as of right now it's just plain and simple.

What is your favorite thing about starring in a comedy?
Raven-Symoné: I guess you create a family, hopefully for many years, with the cast and crew and the writers and the producers. I get to play a character that I love and enjoy hopefully for many times, and I get to grow with that character while I grow, and they grow, and that's what I like about it.

What achievements are you the most proud of in your career?
Raven-Symoné: My semi-sanity. The fact that I can feel joy going home and it's not the glitz and the glamour that really drives me, it's the fact that I need to, I get the thrill of making someone else laugh, or someone else feel emotion; that's very much a selfless act. And that's what I, no matter what character I choose, I try to make it about that, otherwise I'll go crazy.

Well, I think that’s probably the most enjoyable thing about watching you in all your projects that you've done is that you're so good at making us laugh, so thank you and I'm looking forward to the show.
Raven-Symoné: I hope I can continue to do that for as long as I work, thank you.

What’s it like being an actress yourself, who is playing an aspiring one on State of Georgia? Can you relate to her?
Raven-Symoné: Of course I can. It's very difficult in this industry to do what you like or become anything or to get a break and she's very determined, but sometimes unnoticed. And then it's enough to where I can maneuver in situations that I don't want to be in, and she's still learning; it's quite funny.

And what advice do you have for aspiring actors?
Raven-Symoné: To be very professional; always professional, and to enjoy yourself.

Your character Georgia is just brimming with confidence, where do you think all of that comes from?
Raven-Symoné: Well, Georgia has that confidence; she actually comes from a well-to-do family. They always promoted and supported her dreams, and always told her she could be anything she wanted to be and helped her get to where she is now, as a very confident young lady by boosting her ego in a good way, but not too much to where she'll fall flat on her face later on. She learns little bits and pieces of how she was very privileged as a young child here and there throughout the show, which brings you back down in reality, so that's a good thing, but I think it’s definitely the support of her family.

What role do you think Georgia would do really well at, what popular movie or theater or blockbuster hit do you think Georgia would love to go, love to do?
Raven-Symoné: I I've only done nine episodes; I’m going to need you to ask me that question when we're in the third season. I don’t know just yet. She's still growing, let's say that. I don't know if she's supposed to be comedian or whatever, she does about anything right now. We know she can sing though, but drama-wise, we'll see.

Could you tell us a little about the relationship between Georgia and Jo? Did they grow up as friends, did they meet in high school, what's the background?
Raven-Symoné: Georgia and Jo have been friends since they were four years old and they were inseparable, they always were chilling together and they went to school together. Georgia became one of the popular girls but kept Jo close because she knew that that was her best friend for life. So when Georgia decided to move, Jo went right along and got a scholarship, I think, to a college, and there it is, and that's how they're here together, they are bestest of friends, kind of like sisters from another mother, so good.

What about romance? Do we expect any relationships coming up for them in the early episodes?
Raven-Symoné: Good thing about this being a new show, where the characters are 25 and 24 years old in New York City. First of all, in New York City, of course there's going to be cute guys, but there's so many possibilities that we can do and, yes, I think we’re going to touch on everything that life has to offer.

You’ve always been considered a role model for young ladies; do you take that into account when you take roles like this?
Raven-Symoné: I actually take into account what my grandchildren's grandchildren are going to be watching later on down the line, and that in turn to me kind of encompasses all of the kids that have watched me over the years, but at the same time I do what I think is fun, but I'm not going to disrespect my family.

What is your secret for staying so grounded and professional throughout your career?
Raven-Symoné: Keeping my family and friends close to me; the ones that have lasted longer than seven years.

I was really excited to learn that Loretta Devine has signed on to the show. What has your experience been like to work with her and also as it relates to her being from the South as well?
Raven-Symoné: Working with Loretta is great, dude, and she's like the aunt that I've never had. Very sweet, very artistic and enjoyable moments.

While watching the promotional video for the show, Georgia kind of reminds me of your character in That's So Raven; ambitious, and determined. Are there any similar qualities between Raven Baxter and Georgia Chamberlain?
Raven-Symoné: I think it's in the quality of me. It's being who I am and how my comedy is. I'm not really a caricature actor, so I think you're always going to find some things that will blend in, but ultimately it's in the writing and what situation is for me and how I react.

What did Loretta Devine bring to the cast dynamic as Aunt Honey?
Raven-Symoné: Aunt Honey is probably, no, she is the scene stealer. She has the lines that I just have to stare and just break sometimes, and she's also the voice of reason, keep that for your acknowledgement and watch the show, and she's just a sweetheart. It seems I can't help but to love Aunt Honey, and when you see the show you'll see her with these girls within her apartment are absolutely more sane than she is, but she has a ray of light.

Many actors draw their inspiration from people that they know to play their characters. Is your portrayal of Georgia based off of anyone that you know?
Raven-Symoné: You know, it’s funny. It's so true, and people do that, but when I was younger, I wasn't allowed to have like posters or things, people on my wall, I had to watch like old school shows like Nick at Night, so what she always remind me of at all was anything that I watched on That Girl, or Flip Wilson. I pull from other comedians that I've watched and admired over the years, so definitely a mix of That Girl; probably a little bit of, what can I say, I don't know, somebody from Taxi for sure, and somebody a little flamboyant, I don't know, I haven't figured that out yet, but I know that it comes from me studying when I was younger.

It seems like it would be really exciting to shoot the show in front of a live studio audience. What is that like?
Raven-Symoné: Shooting in front of a live studio audience is one of the best things you'll ever experience. They make sure that you're on point with your jokes, as long as they are free to laugh, and they just give this type of, I can say the scene in front of the people that we work with every day, and then when the audience comes in here for the first time, because you've heard it for 17 times, it just brings more joy into the script when you can actually enjoy it a little more. It's fun, exciting, and the audience is cheering, there's music; it's like a little gathering every tape night.

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