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August 2007
An Interview with Salli Richardson

An Interview with Salli Richardson

By Wilson Morales

August 6, 2007

It’s good to be working on a series where if the show’s a hit, then the fans have spoken, and the work only gets better. For Salli Richardson, her life is on cloud nine since having her show, ‘Eureka’ make it to another season and seeing her character, head of Global Dynamics Allison Blake grow. At this year’s San Diego Comic Con, Richardson got to see how big the show is and the fanbase she’s collected with it. In continuing with the sci-fi genre, Salli’s next big role has her cast opposite Will Smith in ‘I Am Legend’, loosely based on the book by Richard Matheson’s novel. In the film, she plays Ginny Neville, wife of Smith’s character, a former scientist who is the last uninfected human in Manhattan when a virus breaks out. In speaking to blackfilm.com, Richardson talks about her role in the film, shooting in New York, and finding TV work more rewarding than film.

Can you talk about your character in ‘I Am Legend?

Salli Richardson: I play Will’s wife, and his daughter actually plays our daughter in the film. I think we basically set the tone for the whole film because what would happen if you see this virus that’s really killing the whole world and your husband is the only hope. You have your child there and what happens to her if she dies, we’re going to be sent away. Will we see each other again? Will he be alive? Will he be safe? I think it just sets up the whole film for devastation that’s going to happen.

How does being a mom on TV and on the big screen compare to being a mom in real- life?

SR: Well, honestly, at first I didn’t know how much it was going to help my work. It just gives me a different depth, especially playing mothers now, you don’t really understand what that means until you are a mom. In real life, it just makes my life much more hectic. The hours on the show are long, and sometimes the some of cast members work longer than me, but like I tell them, ‘I’m never off’. When I get off of work, I just don’t get home to relax and unwind and sit down and memorize my lines, I have to come home and be mom full time and she goes to sleep and then try to find some time to memorize the lines, then get up and be mom before I have to leave. It’s been much harder than I ever expected.

When you think about it, you’re probably the only one who has worked with a majority of the Smith family, having worked with Jada years ago on ‘The Low Down Dirty Shane’. Was it coincidence?

SR: Well, that was a long time ago and there was another film that Will had talked to me about doing and I think it’s more of a testament to Will. I think he decided it was time for him to maybe give me a chance and I’m sure Jada was like, ‘Yeah, Salli’s cool’, but I definitely had to audition and do a screen test for it; but I did feel like it was my part to lose. As long as I went there and did what I was supposed to do, which was audition, it was definitely my job.

Had you read the original book?

SR: No, I hadn’t but I knew when I was telling my cast from the show that I was going in for an audition, they were like, ‘You don’t understand. That’s like a huge cult film.’ So, I need to see the original. I think the version we did is completely different, but with a good twist.

How was shooting in New York?

SR: I always wanted to shoot in New York. I don’t think I wanted to shoot there when it was the coldest it had been for years. I keep telling people that I have been in a lot of films, but I have never been in a real movie until I did this. When you’re in a movie and you have 1500 extras you are shooting with in New York, and running and jumping into a black hawk helicopter, and water spraying, I could never …. that experience was amazing.

What’s it like to do sci-fi show and a sci-fi film?

SR: Today’s the day where I could experience having sci-fi fans. I couldn’t believe that we had that many people. It was exciting to see all of that.

Do you find it more rewarding doing a TV show than film?

SR: I find that I love TV so much more and have a an opportunity to do better work on TV for some reason, which sounds strange because you have more time in film. It’s the repetitiveness. I’m doing it everyday and the whole crew and everyone I work with. They are all so comfortable and that’s easier for me to go to different places with my acting than it is when you walk on a movie and there are new people. With the show, I feel like I can let all my barriers down and do better work because I have a trust there. TV right now almost pays more than film and keeps my life stable and right now everything is about my daughter; to make sure her life is stable. Everything I do right now, every job, every party that I’m not really into is only because of her.

Are you looking to do more films?

SR: We just finished taping the show, and I just got back home from Canada, so I’m hoping to hit the ground running.

There are a lot of films shooting in Canada…..

SR: But you are still being hired in LA. I’m glad to be home and now I’m on the hunt. With the movie coming out and with the series doing well, all that stuff helps you get the next job.

Will there be a project that you and your husband (actor Dondre Whitfield) appear in?

SR: We’ve done about 3 or 4 episodes as guest spots on shows that he’s had. I’ve come in as his love interest, but unfortunately, we have no control over that stuff. We always love working together and it’s hot.



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