Devine as Mrs. Taylor and Bassett as Mrs. Watson
in the romantic comedy, “Jumping the Broom”
Many moviegoers have been clamoring for a sweet romantic comedy where African Americans are cast in a story that displays the rich shades of cultural variety and societal nuance that highlights the non-monolithic black community. Jumping the Broom, starring Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Paula Patton, Laz Alonso, Tasha Smith, Mike Epps, Brian Stokes Mitchell, Valarie Pettiford and a host of other acclaimed actors should satisfy expectations.
In BROOM –directed by Salim Akil of BET’s ũber successful weekly drama, The Game– we have the story of two adoring, over-protective mothers who collide during the wedding of their only children. Not only do we have the anticipated clash of caste and culture but also vigorously opposing views on marriage traditions.
The story is set on the idyllic island of Martha’s Vineyard, however, the actual set location was Nova Scotia. Filled with laughs and surprises, the movie’s producers Tracey Edmonds (Soul Food and CEO of Our Stories, Inc.) and Bishop T. D. Jakes (Not Easily Broken, Woman Thou Art Loosed), along with Elizabeth Hunter and Glendon Palmer have taken this universal theme and given it a charming and culturally significant twist.
Wide-eyed Sabrina Watson (Paula Patton) and love struck Jason Taylor (Laz Alonso) have decided to marry after a six-month courtship. Both committed to consummate their relationship on the wedding night as part of their spiritual choices, the pressure of waiting is exacerbated when their families meet for the first time and celibacy becomes the easiest of their struggles.
The moneyed and pristine Mrs. Watson (Angela Bassett) is a prude. Working class, rough-edged Mrs. Taylor (Loretta Devine) is rude. Forced to come together for Sabrina’s and Jason’s wedding, the ire between both moms takes the “oil and water don’t mix” adage to new heights. What they fear most threatens to destroy both families and no amount of money or sweet potato pie can right their wrongs.
Oscar nominee and multiple NAACP Image Award winners Angela Bassett (What’s Love Got to Do with It, Malcolm X, Boyz n the Hood) and Loretta Devine (Woman Thou Art Loosed, Waiting to Exhale, This Christmas, Funny Valentines) discussed their outstanding performances in Jumping the Broom and talked further about their illustrious careers with Talk2SV.
Paired for the interview and emotionally in accord, the ladies exuded a degree of admirable cachet duly earned from their respective bodies of work. Portions of our conversation follow —
Talk2SV: There are a number of unexpected moments in this film; how did the story read when you first got the script?
Angela Bassett: As I recall, I don’t think we saw that many twists because the script was a little work in progress but the writers did an excellent job. Before seeing the finished product, I didn’t see it as beautiful and as funny and as witty and as charming as the final product has ended up. During shooting, I’m just in the moment of working across from the actor at the time. I know I’m having a good time and I know I’m trying to serve the situation.
Talk2SV: Both of you are accomplished actors with a solid body of work to your credit. Now, at this watermark in your career, what are your film choices based on?
Loretta Devine: For me, I try to do things that I haven’t done before or try to go into characters that I haven’t had a chance to play. Many times, you have done it (a particular role) already. Sometimes, I’ll do an independent film for a friend because they’re trying to get their thing off which is what happened with Dirty Laundry. Sometimes I just feel desperate for work, I’ll do something for no money, and it will be an Oscar winner like the movie, Crash. You just never know. I’ve been so blessed and I always say [that] roles come to me. Many times, you’re cast because you have a certain personage and the people that have seen your work see that characteristic when they see you so they gravitate to you, this particular role was new for me; I never get to play the villain.
Bassett: Some of those same things Loretta mentioned. Sometimes, you just want to work. But, I try not to live my life in desperate mode so I try not to take anything. I want to be proud of my work at the end of the day, and at the end of my career. I think if I can be proud and if I think I can bring something to a role or I get excited about it and the possibility of playing a character in a certain way. If a role is presented to me that I’ve never done before and the idea of it is kind of scary, then yeah, that’s what I want to go for.
Talk2SV: The religious context in this story is present but not preachy. Ironically, the Mrs. Taylor character does bad things yet she’s got her bible open seeking guidance.
Devine: In some cases, the biggest sinners are Christians. They’ve got their bible, they’ve got to check it out, and they try to find some back up to support their behavior.
Bassett: Well, being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re perfect.
Devine: Right.Bassett: Hopefully, it is what you strive for.