Actor Jasmine Guy stars in new film 'The Lady Makers'
You may first have encountered Jasmine Guy from her role as Whitley Gilbert in “A Different World” or her role as Dee in Spike Lee’s 1988 film “School Days.” The award-winning actress has worn many hats in the creative world, from directing to writing to serious dance.
Her new movie “The Lady Makers” is out now on Amazon Prime, and Guy joined “City Lights” host Lois Reitzes via Zoom to talk about her history in performance and this latest role.
How Guy’s early work in dance informed her acting:
“When I got to New York on that scholarship to study with the Alvin Ailey School, I already knew I could do those other things. But the thing about dance – maybe because it’s with our bodies – you only have a window of time to do it. So I said, ‘I’m just going to focus on my dance,’ but that gave me the discipline, the fearlessness, the courage to go into the other areas later in my life. I always say that’s my first language.”
“Alvin Ailey’s original pieces had a lot of characters in them. It wasn’t just about doing this step to this music,” Guy explained. “They were like ‘Masekela Langage’ and ‘Blues Suite,’ of course ‘Revelations’ – they’re representing something, and you have to understand what that is. In every piece that he did, there was a story behind it, and that fed my need to dramatize or to characterize. I cannot just move aimlessly. It always had a purpose, and I saw that purpose in AI’s work.”
A show exploring the relationship between Black and Jewish Mississippi:
“Emma is a domestic in Indianola, Mississippi. She has worked for this Jewish family; I want to say 20 to 30 years,” Guy recounted. “When she met these women, there was a Jewish community in Mississippi. I didn’t know that. I was ignorant, but I was like, ‘There are Jews in Mississippi?'”
She said, “So this little girl goes to the water fountain, and it doesn’t work. The colored one doesn’t work. She goes to the white one, and a white man snatches her up and holds her mother back, and another white lady comes up and intervenes and gets her released. And that was the first time she had seen a kind white person. She said, ‘What kinda white lady is that?’ And she was a part of this Jewish community in Indianola, Mississippi, and I keep saying that because it’s based on a true story.”
“She grows up and later becomes this family’s maid,” Guy said. “Years later, now the ladies are sisters and family members or whatever, and they become beholden to this oath of, ‘Before we leave, we must leave everything we know and have experienced in our 70, 80 years, to someone else. We can’t leave here taking that with us.’ So they get these three hood rats from Atlanta. One’s up for prostitution, one’s up for child abuse, the other one’s up for selling drugs, and they’re going to jail, and they convince the Atlanta judge to ‘let us have them for two or three months, and we’ll make ladies out of them.'”
“The Lady Makers,” starring Jasmine Guy, is streaming now and available to watch on Amazon Prime. More information is available at https://theladymakers.com/.