WWL>Topics>>12-24-13 1:10pm Angela with Wendell Pierce

12-24-13 1:10pm Angela with Wendell Pierce

Dec 24, 2013|

Angela talks with actor Wendell Pierce about his career.

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Automatically Generated Transcript (may not be 100% accurate)

How can we not be so thrilled on this day it is perfect Christmas whether the sun is shining light this good people are smiling. And I hope you're having a wonderful day. What a way to start Christmas C. We've got Santa Claus arriving at 2 o'clock to talk to all the kids who -- call to him. For two hours from two to four so please get -- children ready to 60187. They. He wants to talk to the kids he's got a lot to say he wants to hear what they want for Christmas and is this is these Santa. We have work for months to get these Santa here. But for the next hour we will listen to one of the great voices of television Hollywood and Broadway. Star of five seasons of HBO's to remain winner of a Tony award for best play on Broadway. And a star -- more movies -- I can name. Wendell Pierce has spent the last almost 25 years as an actor who can do at all and do beautifully. And he is ours New Orleans born and raised a graduate of Ben Franklin and no -- he has never forgotten his roots. His acting skills may have landed in his role -- make the story of New Orleans coming back after Katrina. But it is dwindles social conscience. An entrepreneurial spirit that still have him fighting for the recovery of his old neighborhood Pontchartrain park. If this is a season of giving how lucky we are to have such a gift in armaments. And Zain. Thank you know I really mean thank you -- -- -- this with a touch with. I'm very -- achievement than an hour on your Christmas Steve he welcomed in with a ton of that legacy still Christmas yes I just study I got to pay. You can -- to Alaska and I know but that you're here to have been Santa Claus is coming so actually. And ask him if I can. Maybe get some legacy Brooke I think that may be the case I'm so glad pitcher -- double crossed -- but you're doing your job and he's gonna do mr. hunt and a I had so many things like talking about. I'm such a fan but we'll get over that as an same here a well animals that you agree and you. I've actually watched from last night for the repaint. And I've had your character. That your character issue but who else is it -- I am on them problem. The spirit of generations of New Orleans musicians who. May not be signal about. A multitude of things except one thing they are -- about the love of music and level tradition. In love of crafts and skills. And craftsmanship. And just the soulful. Creation of one of great one of the great world art forms -- -- says. And was created right here. But I'm also an amalgam of a couple of real life since. Is the great wolf. Who you may see on royal street playing with two Marines. And will present unique stance when he -- some place such facilities Alaska. And he is one of the most. He's won most soulful trumbull is in the world a Stafford Agee who is Grammy Award winner. And that one of the members of rebirth brass band. I was cities and album of that and big Sam. I can still be exams look for. For the Soviets as that big anymore news. These little slams Lance slim slim Sam say that and assess. But yes those those three musicians. I come to mind when I was thinking about putting him again. You actually learn to play the trombone yes I I treat -- to Stafford and mr. Hart who do you see in. In the -- man who is the other band leader who gave me the job he was my boss tonight. He actually took me and he is the band director and to Kipp believe. And those of most of the kids that you see here. And I told him I said this is your first professional job -- be seen and heard around the world. And those kids are wonderful with -- it was wonderful. And it was I miss them really really do. In the last episode is the next week is this Sunday coming his son yeah. This Sunday's finale this Sunday is the finale will not be missed in this book everyone is gonna watch that and we're going to. He just in -- groups say thank you and David Simon for doing. Yeah I think with the good thing that I'm proudest of about tremendous the fact that you know that's the -- are -- here. You know it's not just entertainment that's a residual of the real. Role of artists that is a form where we collectively. Reflect on who we are where we've been -- faults strengths and weaknesses. Who we hope to become as a society -- the community and what our values are. And you know when you lie awake at night and think about your own life as individual as an individual. The way those thoughts are to you that's what art should be for the community as a whole and I think. What we've done over these past couple of years which remains leave it cultural document that years from now people when they ask. You know what was -- like what were people thinking will with some of the issues -- We're where have we gone how far have we come and how much farther do we need to go. They'll be able to pull up this little cultural document. And says. That's what people would think about or at least these group of people with thing. In what was truly. -- catastrophe. Beyond words and and it's all the human factor that we look at now I think that's the thing that says so clear about your man and what we were trying to say which is in spite of all of the greatest. Revelation is that. The humanity in a school triumph over everything. And anything. We really tap into a truthful humanity can also be fearful of that part of humanity that is. You know the barbarian at the -- of thin veil between those who who were trying to do. Good and those who do not have your best interest at heart. Are you happy how it ends. Yeah. Yet it's going to be different for different people. I. I'm happy with the way -- things and and actually that was saying -- which -- was riding in Russia. The three sisters was playing at the Moscow at the -- -- people used to always go. And they had expression in Russia which reminded me to make which is the -- seal of assistance to. And in what is implied by that expression is racist is. Those three sisters lived before the curtain rose. And they live on after the curtain went down and -- that's what I think about when it comes to this finale of to make you know. You'll always be able to pull it off the shelf and say listen Casilla Antoine has to. No because is it gives you sense that we we live on beyond that. Well Antawn malevolent but Wendell Pierce as. Living on fitness center and I are expecting Michael J. Fox we're gonna take a break we're gonna come back and we're gonna talk about what you're doing now. Both professionally and -- Merry Christmas and thank you we'll be right we are back with a wonderful thing. Great actor putting wonderful human being Wendell gears. Born and raised in New Orleans a great from day and wire fame and so many other things. And I loved your whole. Not just description but heartfelt. Thoughts on from that. You've had since now wrapped that up and Sunday world going to be watching on HBO. But now -- into Michael J. Fox did this an as a news director which makes very meaning. I know prison well I found I found at the YouTube but news directors and I see what I the I see how they complete you guys you come. I play Harris right who's in news director at via NBC affiliate in New York WNBC. And -- conspire. Who is Michael's wife to get him back to work because he's left because a year I was diagnosed -- parkinson's and and I convinced him to come back to where Sosa family comedy and workplace comedy and is the Michael J. Fox over these Michael Henry. On the show and we who is then there's been a lot of -- -- for some have done like one Cameron comedy. And it's completely different. And you know -- contrast yard and completely different from the wider and so a tried to do play. TV and the film project a year you know to the truck effective. And you know to keep mixing it up so. You know let's go back in time. Here you are -- that milk on the usually very talented very interested did you know literally than this is my life this is what I wanted to own. I'll never forget we had. We had we agree teaches him Bob -- and Nelson. As we called them. And and doctor chooses the principal. -- -- and said if you. If they were so serious and look at that they said if you leave no. And you decide not to pursue. Your career this is success. Because we were ready find out now fifteen and sixteen and go through the heartache and disappointment in the struggle that artists have to go through some times to be professionals. We gonna tell you what you need to do. The sort of discipline the sort of commitment that you and if you decide right now NC wait a minute this is now for me. We -- do you find that out non discovery now -- Ten years from now fifteen years from now when you. Put everything into living like this is that -- as ever loving truth and so that was the thing that I really appreciated about and focus they treated us like professionals. They expected us to act as professionals they expected us to pursue our craft. As as diligently and as passionately as possible. And I knew then that that would give me the best opportunity. You if I was going to be serious about what I wanted to do -- we give me the best opportunities to succeed and your folks or. Were supportive -- Yes and no. Seat in what was great unnerved at the -- my focus -- on taking music anymore than auditions and plays just. It always contemporary arts and drop you off to pick you up. And he's called them frank what you want to act you have the public private school. In Franklin's best schools in the world -- let me know it. But he also stuck to his principles which was if it was something that you wanted to do. I will. You have to commit to it a 100%. You know so he never asked me to stop do what I want to do he says I'm not into I wish she would make another choice. But he ultimately still supported me. And still plotting -- -- candidates and I'll also remember in my area opening night on Broadway and play. -- serious money countered you know. And some of the day you told me influence. That's -- gain anymore distance in India. Cheapest solution and a -- I want to remember tonight he's. Some knowledge come home -- you know was your quote. How did you offer don't do that the -- do something else. You know you went to -- as many do well and many other goats but something happened it worked for you mean -- -- ahead. Really a lifetime of experiences. And I don't know what the percentages of young people who aspire -- but to actually make a living. Right that was that was one thing I want is to make sure that I was a journeyman actor. I want to be as diverse as possible I do you know drama comedy. Classical contemporary. Film and stage. Felt as though dubious -- -- is possible at the facility to do all different types of things and in different mediums will give me the best opportunity to work. And work gets you work and so I think that's that's been the key. Also can't be fearful. You know you can't let -- stifle. And a lot of times to people. You're fearful you know people ask me suggestions and what do you think I should do cities series once again. And I tell them and check -- couple months later did you do it. No I'm getting me out think him going tune you know maybe you know this stifled by fear. And I would rather. You know make the attempt to do something in fail. And have to live with the regret of never trying you know. Did you where you rejected. Oh yeah rejection. Constable. Well for assist us -- you know fine. And lady named Tammy in seventh grade but that's okay that's a good today aspect -- so you go OK I can handle it -- she doesn't wanna go on a -- What you have to realize is the greatest relationship you ever have is between you and your work. Employment doesn't define you as and I acted as an artist. It's very hard lesson learned that the most importantly -- -- employment doesn't define you as an artist and what I mean it is when -- unemployed but does not mean. You are included. -- doesn't mean that you don't have the facility. It also means on the flip side of that when you are employed. And everyone's selling -- great you have to be able to look in the -- And to thy known self be true with and mrs. swindle that is. That's not up to snuff you know you can do better. You work is better than that -- you the true barometer of how good you are employment doesn't do that and that will be the thing that. That. That pulls you look at those difficult times gets you through those difficult times to know I've gone and had some of the best work. Some of the best workers of America. Will never be seen in by Cuba because it was and an audition I didn't get the job but -- in the not distant. And one of the -- that about it it just wasn't rightful and yet and I and I and I know for sure because there was one of the greatest moments of my career. Was an -- involved -- And that women tonight you know broke into the room I did the scene. And did the scene. And -- close who's behind the table got open got the script from the stage managed. Because he thought stage manager was holding me back so he did the scene with me actually turned to the company aunts and said give me an F man. The creep -- boss he did the scene with. At the end of the season and we couldn't. -- too young for this he said the number and find something for you. And he called my age and you sit -- -- who Wendell this year. Three monthly -- Now and I was at first that often. And those who Wendell. For those ten minutes in you work with you did so that was one of the highlights of my career I did this scene from the big deal -- Lucia. Bob for us so I -- actors all the time that you know addition is -- In addition Asia opening and a closing nightly -- sharing. What you would do with the role that they're considered for this is what I would do. Hope we get to -- a ticket and you leave you even in the room article you they don't but you know you do that performance. And that will bolster -- for the times when. You know unemployed. And and also they call you now you're ready -- tour. As I've said this for many years you have with out now -- beautiful voices. Which normally are -- and yet Britain -- -- also with training to. -- distribution -- who work in ministry. And my voice is going in and all in and obviously keep it. And then as a -- more more more it's like training a muscle did it did literally is so you know I always tell people don't -- swallow. You know because that soothes them and the vocal -- You know take a breath in through the nose and out through the mouth. You know -- take a break in through the nose lifts the soft Pallet if you war room in the actual vocal cavity and therefore more -- Residents in all and so it is a training dislike any of it. Things in us this. Some of -- most people don't know that the you know they see good acting and as soon while I could do that backers as a reflection of humanity the human -- can do. There's a lot more technical stuff to it that. That until -- votes on -- Chica. Stay with this Wendell Peters is with -- for the next half hour and of consent is right behind him. Now let's go to the newsroom with Christmas I'm loving this today I am loving Christmas -- and I love the fact that Wendell Pierce is a special guest today. Listening to you and I could listen for ever talk about your profession. As I said how far out can one person the and what what -- advice should -- Whether what ever the perfectionist but it is about discipline and is about knowing crafted is about passion. And it is about handling that Richard action has been very much so definitely you recently won. Tony award this local woman -- -- office he has -- -- and plugging Susan Susan McCarron yes. For a play you'll produced yes best plan. Best play on Broadway in 2011. Yeah who -- is Clive and park. News. It was a play set in the house. That the younger family buys. In a raisin in the sun. And -- the first after the players in the 1950s -- from the perspective of the family selling house. And so they're getting all this flak that the U integrated neighborhood with his black family is buying this house. And you see why they have to sell it and then UC. Fifty years later. The house now. Being sold. With a neighborhood is completely changed -- -- is gentrification coming -- so let's all be social issues. Over the span of fifty years the good. Through the look of this one house through through this one house -- that they did production here that I want to see -- -- get a chance to see. One of the theaters on saint -- But -- club -- it was a great play and one of the produces pulled out and I thought some great opportunity because I. I've known entity a notably works isn't really great player won the Pulitzer. But Bruce Norris is that the the playwright and and so invested in it and that's when I met Susan and change when -- -- and she's great she's she's wonderful. And so to New Orleans produces -- part of producing team. And we won the Tony award for best play 2011. Representing Pontchartrain park and Guerrero yes present a beautiful thing. This is indeed let's talk about Pontchartrain park because I know that again that's where you grew up yet fifteen feet of water. And just your feelings of we got to bring it back and although deflection many. Well you know. It was in the some of the deepest part of the flooding. And it's historic. Because. You know ugly Tom segregation in new -- That literally black folks couldn't go to the park. You know except on Wednesdays mean a lot of people. -- their heads about that now the just think of this the degradation of not -- being able to go to open green space. -- one day a week AP turow. Led the fight so that. You can desegregate the parks and a part of that movement at the time led to. Led the government then. I can't think -- demeanor. That comes to mind before she wrote the publicists something that. He did the set aside separate but equal. And as ugly as that is. The people of punching impart -- beautiful -- that okay this separate segregated black on clay. The we will turn it into something that is to -- and it was came incubator of talent. Lisa Jackson the reason EPA directive. A group with the air and Terence Blanchard Grammy Award winning. Trumpeter. And it's more. And and -- -- down. Mark memorial pick the longest few -- gold ignored history -- trade partner -- And and lawyers and doctors and in the middle of it was chosen but Bellevue. Gulf -- -- Bartholomew designed most of the courses. In New Orleans he -- it Clark and Metairie golf world. And but he couldn't play. You know he couldn't play on him because he was a black man. And that he designed this course and concentrate park. For the community that he love for the game that he loved. And so the entire -- enclave this historic. And it would have been blasphemous. For my generation of homeowners there to allow. The place to go abandoned. -- my parents generation fought so hard to to get it in the first place. Fighting through all of that -- -- -- Degradation. And it would them blasphemous with -- us politicos who we we said. Let's exercise our right of self determination and as a community of residence resident initiative. That we -- let's get the property sold back. The road home. And develop them ourselves and to date we have about 27 and solar generated homes isles is said that you know we've been asked people to come back the truck bring it back in between first entryway. You know of this great twentieth century social justice -- movement now in the 21 century. -- development movement let's bring him back -- with the with solar energy and also very proud of the fact that it was resident initiated. It just shows you this one of the great American aesthetics of self determination. And also bringing back. A community that is historic and so important to new loans and you know all the all the golfers out there you need to come and play a -- course is one of the one of the places one of my favorite places in the world. Especially on the ninth hole right in the center of the park. If I had some good shots. No I've had off was and obviously I have been. I grew up playing on -- A played on a golf course every day. The problem was that didn't play golf on. I played football I was that kid you run and off the green all that. And the golf gods have paid me back -- -- -- -- of the worst game in the world but -- were kidnapped in China. Well I remember how important in those early days. When we were constantly balancing being discouraged and hopeful needs to see your face and say you know what we're gonna lead the charge. And yet you and you faced problems he has still facing problems on me. You know we have. He didn't listen we have congress drive which they say is going to be. Redone. It has been touched since I left in 1981. They actually changed the bus routes and points -- park. Rather than fix the streets the bus used to go around ago of course the distillery when he gets that'd make a left in. Should. You know and so it's that's sort of efficacy that we always at the steel City Hall about now. We actually had a meeting -- just last week and fix congress. Opens -- hope is not to say. A you know they 88 election election. Election cycle promise because we can and all the time want -- that -- the day and we're all gonna have a so we have so we have January 6 start. With April completion I loved that so we'll do a follow this due Apollo -- who has do follow up on six and in April. I love that stay with this we're gonna continue our top with Wendell Pierce right after Davis Love that music. We are talking with a man who has just won every award there is. In his profession great acting not all of them in the tunnel well there was an account at my ideas like that. However. You've also sort of won the hearts of a New Orleans. Because of a real all of your efforts post-Katrina. Among them is that again as we called onto general spirit. -- bringing grocery stores in areas that desperately need it absolutely and so you've formed sterling building farms grocery. And it was originally going to be pumped in park. Actually it was going to be originally. Originally in the lower ninth floor okay it was going to be the first to a because that's our biggest who does have that. You know them. The politics of New Orleans didn't make it happening in -- so. -- -- who have won on the west bank and yet we're in in Guerrero right. And let's sterling funds is is I realize. That. Commercial. Businesses American industry who's standing on the sidelines when he came to. A whole bunch of underserved communities I thought post-Katrina. Just in our community and country park I was soliciting businesses to come back to reopen -- mall. Talk to and linens and Burlington was thinking about coming in actually TJ Max and marshals -- And so with that effort we failed to get the then that that project and -- trademark. Up and running we we've lost out to vote. Wal-Mart. And so. That made me begin to think that is still an opportunity. If if not here -- question apart all over New Orleans. -- underserved communities American industry standing on the sideline. -- this opportunity -- and so if we can look at emerging markets. In China and India and see an opportunity that we should be -- look at you know on American cities. And look at New Orleans east and say hey this is an emerging market actually knew all diseases and an emerging market is one of the richest markets in. The state. It is definitely the -- part of the city. But yet American industry stands on the sideline and we also and and we also have to convince. City Hall. Debt that's valuable also you know if we're going to. Bring economic development bring economic development to some of those places where it is most needed because it is a wealth. Waiting to be mind. You know that's so stoic -- is bug going into those communities scene that is in need. And filling that need and that's business 101. Opportunity to do well and to -- it land and so that's when we started a for profit business. And we. About two we've we have three convenience stores. Sterling expresses. And a grocery store sterling farms. We about to open another groceries to hopefully in Alexandria and and then ultimately. We are route now in talks. -- and used to in Atlanta that's what we haven't difficulties here. But that the this is happening. All over the country you know but it isn't tell me it's not insurmountable because. You still means something in the Lower Ninth Ward is absolutely listen the Lower Ninth Ward is one of the most. Viable. Places in this city. But I know for a fact. That. There's so many people that believe. In political power. Across the board in all positions that the -- Ninth Ward isn't and you don't see the resource is put into the lower ninth with that need to be put. You don't see that infrastructure. Being put in the hand is not the encouragement of economic development. And pencil and and into me it is. He was leaving. You're leaving opportunity on the table. And what happens is visit train of thought on a capitalist -- being straight until -- army true capitalists. But it true capitalist believes the more opportunity the more access the more people that have opportunity and access. The more growth. The more wealth the more you economic engine grows if you feed it it grows I just can't get over that new. What their resources want to do this and your finding walls. Assistance and that's because it is a narrow. Way of thinking the there has been a an idea that capitalism is a finite thing. That wealth is a finite thing and so what I have to do is make sure that. My kids get the opportunity my kids know with schools to go to my business gates here because any competition. You know that means less of the pie. And what true capitalism is is more opportunity the more competition. The more the pie grows. The more the pardons and so we have gotten away from that and American industry is actually shooting itself in the foot because the first thing the first valuable asset that you have issue workforce. And look at the work for this year is being moved out of the city. You know -- -- And a did visit disrespect for the workforce. Is you know this is shrinking of educational opportunity. You know we I'd love to reform movement that's happening but we want to make sure that. All of those kids who don't have the parents. Who understand the choices. I consider my -- here and here. Those -- the kids we have to make sure. Reap the benefit of the reformation more than him first. You know it's like it's like trauma you go to emergency room is one guy I would call one guy -- a -- Take care of the stab -- first you know and so. I I would just hope that. I would just hope that one you see the Lower Ninth Ward as a viable community wants in names anything actually remembers -- -- in city government. Very high up in city government as -- told me. The Ninth Ward is not file. And then I asked have you ever been there she goes. They say yeah -- passed the message and an ISS it have you ever. Literally set foot in the Lower Ninth Ward may be gone to Stewart there had when restaurants pick the -- Paul -- And they had to admit I have never. In mine forty policies. That prevents the one night. Will give -- mature bright but yet this is a person in control of the assets the infrastructure. The purse strings. And so that's where we falls short we will miss this wonderful opportunity. If we just about. Blitzer. It's remember those words from Wendell Pierce stay with -- we're not time we are back and Wendell Pierce I've loved listening TU. And so many different levels you're just as I started off your gift here gift in our lives thank you we have a caller Clinton -- Parker. Equipment -- and July and and all this. Well. As opinion now -- city national were tortured him and I couldn't let this opportunity to. You can tell everywhere like -- champion Wendell has banned under contract community. So the national action news there. Is Amos is -- -- is better. Then. Fell on eight Q Martin. What to expect to meet again. And -- Until. Contributed to our eggs in there and it can helping tell the story. The war into the important. Messages. Of the -- that changed the world and the city. We're not saying. Without. Clinton you are adult -- clearly didn't -- until you thank you so much. And -- the World War II museum my father. My father was denied his medals from Saipan and the World War II museum. Helped me. The -- an extension it's his land use. And and general down. And they presented by father with his medals. In 2010 that he hadn't gotten. And over fifty years 60s70s. Almost. And it views as a proud day in the -- at the museum. Will work to museum with something that my father who worked -- you know. And I inmates and it's always. And I live in -- train approximately OC you know Higgins boats we -- we're right here they were made right here so I grew up here Mets story. And and he would always say you know -- gonna get the story out there and so win. Who in The Who in the museum came about he -- he's a true champion of the museum he was so honored and I am one of the many voices and beyond borders yes and Sasser had to be a part of that you are my favorite places I recommend people go there all the time. That generation really. Really fought so long and hard to make sure that we Clement the joy we had today. You are wonderful to call thank you I've got to think Wendell Pierce again you have an open invitation to thank you may have not done anything. Merry Christmas and everybody come out distilling -- sterling arms on the West Bank get a little -- who remain will see -- -- him Merry Christmas to Merry Christmas and everybody Santa Claus is coming he's going to be here for two hours and two children reading. Now let's go to the newsroom.