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February 2008
COLLEGE ROAD TRIP | An Exclusive Interview with Raven-Symoné


An Exclusive Interview with Raven-Symoné
By Wilson Morales

March 3rd, 2008

From ‘The Cosby Show’ to her own show, ‘That’s So Raven’ to the teenage films like ‘The Cheetah Girls’ and subsequent smaller roles in other films, we have seen Raven-Symoné grow up before our very eyes. She turned out to be a role model to some and a success to others. With her parents and her business team steering her in the right direction, Raven has done remarkably well for herself and learned so much that at such a young age, she‘s helping executive produce a number of projects. Coming up for her next is a starring role opposite Martin Lawrence in ‘College Road Trip’.

Choosing which college to attend can be the most exciting and thrilling time of a young woman's life... unless your overprotective father isn't quite ready to let you go. In the Disney family comedy, "College Road Trip," Melanie (Raven-Symone) is eagerly looking forward to her first big step towards independence when she plans a "girls only" road trip to check out prospective universities. But when her overbearing police chief father (Martin Lawrence) insists on escorting her instead, she soon finds her dream trip has turned into a hilarious nightmare adventure full of comical misfortune and turmoil.

In speaking exclusively with blackfilm.com, Raven-Symoné talks about her college aspirations, working with Martin Lawrence, and her upcoming album.

What was the attraction to doing this film?

Raven-Symoné: To be honest, I’ve always wanted to do a big screen film that would put me in the top 5 billing, and they told me that I would be in the top 2, and I loved the story. It’s a great script and a great family story and a great father and daughter story and I think that’s very important to put out there. There are a lot of things going on and some fathers don’t understand their daughters and vice-versa and this film shows that it’s important to have your father in your life, or father figure at least, and it can be done.

You’ve been acting since you were less than 10 years old and now you’re an adult, how has it been with your parents and them letting you go on your own?

RS: Well, my parents were my managers up until I was 18 years old. They are still involved in my business, but they are no longer my managers. They were great. They balanced family life and business life well, and they always made sure that I knew everything that was going on. They would talk and have me sit down and listen. They would listen to my opinion, and when I was home with them I was learning; so when I became of age and they believe I could take care of my business, I was prepared.

You’re at that age where you would be graduating college had you gone. Do you have any regrets for not going?

RS: No, because you can go to college at any time in your life. You can always get a fabulous education as long as you put your mind to it and prepared to take on that kind of work. When I finished high school, I was still doing ‘That’s So Raven’ and I was doing the album and it was just a lot of stuff. My momma always told me that college is job in itself and you need to give it 3000 percent and I couldn’t do it right then, and my parent understood. ‘As long as you go to college’ and I said ‘I’m going to go, but let me finish work really fast.’

So is college still in the future for you?

RS: Most definitely.

Any ideas as to what school you would like to go to?

RS: I’d like to go to culinary school. I don’t really have a particular one. When all my friends were shopping for colleges, I was still reading scripts. I still have to do my research.

Why culinary?

RS: I love to cook and I want to have restaurants one day and I think it’s very important if you are going to get into a new field or a new career, you should be 100% educated in that field.

Have you thought about road tripping for schools or do you have a timeframe when you will do so?

RS: I haven’t done any scouting yet. I didn’t go to a normal prom, but I did a movie about prom and that was good enough. I don’t know if I will scout or ever.

How was it working with Martin (Lawrence)?

RS: Working with Martin is so much fun. He’s definitely professional and hilarious. I definitely learned a lot and in the common thread through all the African American comedians, there’s professionalism and keeping your family close.

With the both of you having done TV sitcoms, did you discuss making the transition to films?

RS: We talked about it a little bit. We also talked about being appreciative of what you have. That was a lot of the conversation that Mr. Lawrence and I had. Being appreciative and knowing that being in this industry is a blessing and not everyone can get into it and we both have been fortunate enough to get. In talking about the sitcoms, we know that it’s a lot of work to have your own sitcom. There’s a lot of people to help you in it of course, but when you’re on set, it’s a collaborative thing.

When folks see the trailer to ‘College Road Trip’, will they think that is Raven the sitcom character in a movie or is it different?

RS: I don’t think that this is Raven Baxter, the sitcom character. I don’t have that much energy anymore. I think my character in the movie, Melanie, is a lot more calm and collected and not as feisty.

What was the best scene you shot for the film?

RS: I enjoyed the skydiving scene, but I think my favorite scene and I don’t know if it made it in the movie, was when we lost the car and Dad tries to find it and we run into these people and they are confused as to who we are and I have to save him and I have to pretend that I am a police officer, and it’s great because I get to wrestle Martin Lawrence down to the ground. I get to yell, ‘He’s a criminal’ and all that stuff. I enjoy physical comedy and being able to wrestle Mr. Martin Lawrence. That was fun.

What about the skydiving scene. Was that really you?

RS: I do not sky dive and I will never sky diving. I’ll indoor skydive, but I will not jumping out of a plane anytime soon unless absolutely necessary and my life depended on it. We did the green screen on a rig and that was fun. We were thirty feet off the ground. I’m a little afraid of heights but having Martin Lawrence dropped on your back, that was hilarious.

How was it working with Kym Whitley and Brenda Song, another face from the Disney Channel?

RS: Working with Kym Whitley was a dream. We had worked together on ‘That’s So Raven’, and we kept saying that we have to do something together again and she came on this film at the last minute, and it was great having someone that I had worked with before. Working with Brenda Song and Margo (Harshman), we had lots to talk about. It was sort of having distant relatives there supporting me.

Let’s talk about remaking the ‘Double Dutch Bus’ song. How did that come about?

RS: Well, we sing ‘Double Dutch Bus’ in the movie, and I guess it was just second nature to re-sing it in a way that reflects today’s world. I love the song. Actually, it keeps sticking to my head.

With a new album coming out, what do we expect to be different and why did close to three years to come up with a new one?

RS: There are a lot of reasons. The album, ‘Raven-Symone’, is a party album. There are only 2 slow songs, but it’s really energetic. It’s something you can put on when you are cleaning the house or you are about to come out to a party, or you need to wake up to go to school. It will be fun to perform. I go on tour soon. It took me three to do another album because I didn’t take a break. I was on tour myself for two years when the last one came out.

During the last season of ‘That’s So Raven’, you were learning to produce? What was the experience like?

RS: I executive produced ‘College Road Trip’ and ‘That’s So Raven’ and ‘The Cheetah Girls 2’ movie, and I have some other projects that I am producing and creating. I love that side of the business. I love to put thing together and being part of the project from when you are hiring the writer all the way to picking the clothes for people. I love it. I think it’s definitely a hat that I will be wearing for a very long time.

What do we expect from you next?

RS: I think you can expect more films from me. I am a lover of comedy. I love doing it. It’s fun and it keeps me on my toes. Definitely more comedy but you never know what the future holds.

Any more films lined up?

RS: We are talking on a number of things but nothing concrete yet.

While the strike was going on, what kept you busy?

RS: My website, http://www.ravensymonepresents.com/. I created it but a lot of different people work on it and it’s a site that’s true to my heart. It’s a craft and cooking site, and we also adding nutrition and other segments. I love that site to death. It’s energetic, it’s fun, and it’s something I think when you watch TV, there’s nothing on TV that helps people my age or younger or a little bit than me how to cook and take care of yourself. They kind of let you fend for yourself. Hopefully, they will go to the site and learn some stuff.

Have you been approached to take ‘That’s So Raven’ to the big screen?

RS: Yes, but I don’t think we will be doing that.

Why should anyone go see ‘College Road Trip’?

RS: They should go see it because it’s hilarious; and it’s a great family movie. There are jokes adults and kids. If you are younger and go to college, you can see what to expect, and it’s really good.


COLLEGE ROAD TRIP opens on March 3rd, 2008


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