We’re used to seeing Angela Bassett in more dramatic roles, but she’s flexing her funny bone in Netflix’s new comedy Otherhood. Bassett turns on the charm as Carol, one third of a trio of “empty nesters,” who find themselves on a mission to reconnect with their sons after they forget to call them on Mother’s Day. The journey, in turn, becomes a mission to self-discovery.
All of which drew Bassett to the production. “It starts with the script,” she said in a candid chat. “That was one of the things that attracted me to this movie. The chance to go a different way. My friends tell me I’m funny.”
Basset chose to work Netflix, not because she needed an opportunity of course, but because they tell everyday stories when Hollywood can be so limited.
“Our director and producer, they’ve been trying to get this done for 10 years. What stories are being told on the big screen goes through cycles. ‘We’re not doing biographies right now, or made for television movies right now. It’s great to have a place like Netflix where there’s such an array and something for everyone. We shot in New York City. It’s a love letter to the city. It was a wonderful experience.”
Basset revealed she ultimately could relate to her character, which also influenced her decision to join the cast. “It had a comedic tone but was based in reality and I could relate being a mother. I relate being a girlfriend. I relate being a wife. I could relate on so many levels,” she said. “I thought this is something we don’t generally see but this is so real — the whole empty nest thing and who are you after the husband is gone and the children are gone. Depression is real after that for a lot of women. In families, sometimes the children are holding it together and everyone is focused on them. They’re fighting for their autonomy, and go off to college, who are you?”
Bassett’s character and her Black son add some much-needed melanin to the Otherhood screen, which is important to Bassett who constantly reaffirms her children that they’re skin is beautiful.
“It’s very important because the power of imagery and the history of this country and we know the scales have not been evenly placed and it’s very important, having a son and a daughter, that they understand who they are. That they are comfortable in their in skin that they’re skin is beautiful. For any woman, whatever skin you live in is beautiful but especially because it’s a life they have to live where they may not get a lot of affirmation in different rooms that they enter. They have to go in with confidence and come out with confidence. I just gave my daughter, I was leaving early this morning, a paper. I said ‘This is a little present for you because this is who you are little queen.’ It was an image of Nefertiti. So she should could always be proud of who she is and know that she is beautiful.”
As for keeping herself grounded and motivated, Bassett offered the advice she gives her son,
“When he goes off to the summer camp where he is a counselor at an autistic camp there are some days it’s a challenge. But that’s what it’s about, rising to the challenge and I tell him, ‘Yeah it’s tough, but find the good and praise it. It’s about your attitude and how you look t the situation. You won’t like it all but there’s a lesson in it.”
Otherhood is streaming NOW on Netflix.