Loretta Devine talks Doc McStuffins, Emmy nomination, Waiting to Exhale 2

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Loretta Devine talks Doc McStuffins, Emmy nomination, Waiting to Exhale 2
By Wilson Morales

August 23, 2012

Currently out on DVD is the Disney animated series ‘Doc McStuffins: Friendship Is The Best Medicine,’ which features the voice of actress Loretta Devine as Hallie Hippo among the voice cast of characters.

The Doc Is In…Doc McStuffins that is! Dottie “Doc” McStuffins is an amazing six-year-old girl who has a special secret. She has the ability to talk to toys and stuffed animals. Doc also has a passion for helping others. Along with her loyal and trusty team – Hallie the hippo, Lambie the lamb, Stuffy the dragon, Chilly the snowman and Squeakers the fish – she heals and tends to all the toys and stuffed animals that need help and fixes all the “boo-boos” that happen throughout the day! Whatever the problem, the Doc is always in, and everyone always gets better!

For Ms. Devine, the role is one of many projects that has kept her working for so many years. She’s an talented actress with dozens of movie, television and theater credits. Besides originating the role of Lorell in Dreamgirls, Loretta has starred in Waiting to Exhale, Woman Thou Art Loosed, This Christmas, and For Colored Girls. Most recently, she was featured in the short-lived ABC drama Eli Stone and recurs in Grey’s Anatomy as Richard Webber’s Alzheimer’s-stricken wife Adelle. She won an Emmy Award in 2011 for her performance as Adele and has been nominated again this year. The Houston native also play Georgia Cummings, the owner of the massage parlor in the Lifetime TV series The Client List.

Blackfilm.com recently caught up with Ms. Devine as she talked about her role on Doc McStuffins, her Emmy nomination, seeing her friend, the late Whitney Houston in Sparkle, and whether or not Waiting to Exhale 2 will still happen.

What’s Doc McStufins about?

Loretta Devine: It’s a wonderful show for children ages 2 to 7. It’s about this African American girl whose mom is a real doctor and she is a play doctor and it’s about her and her stuff animals. She doctors her stuff animals and they come alive with a little magic. I play Hallie the Hippo and I’m her receptionist. I sing songs and tell the animals to not be afraid of the doctor.

Is the first time you’ve done voiceover work on a regular basis?

LD: Well, I have done voiceover work in the series The PJs, and in a couple of movies, but yes; because we’ve done 52 episodes of these so I’ve become good at this now.

When you are in the booth, do you do anything different with your voice?

LD: Not really. Everyone recognizes my voices. I get stopped at times at people ask me if I’m Hallie the Hippo. Hallie is a tiny and sassy hippo. She’s not a big girl. Usually when I’m in the booth, I do three different takes and then we move on.

Some many actors have who have done voiceover work have mentioned that they love to do it because they can do it from anywhere. Is that the same for you?

LD: I think you can do it from anywhere but I’ve been doing here in the studios. I usually work with a team that helps run the in-house.

What was the attraction to doing this?

LD: When you can’t get a screen job, doing voiceover work is like your backup. I was very excited to get this because it’s a very lucrative business and it’s a way to work when you’re not working.


You’re up for another Emmy award for your work on Grey’s Anatomy.

LD: I think this is my seventh year of recurring on Grey’s Anatomy. I play the Chief’s wife. I get a chance to work with the incredible Shonda Rhimes and her writing. That show is such a hit and the writing is still incredible. The things that my character went through this past season helped me get nominated for another Emmy. I won the Emmy for it last year. To be recognized by your peers is so wonderful. It helps me continue to work.

Not that you needed the Emmy to validate your work, but what did the Emmy win do for you?

LD: Sometime when you work hard, and you keep going, you wonder if anyone knows that you are there. So the award validates you in so many ways. This past season I did more dramatic stuff with the character than I did for last year when I won. I’m so honored to be recognized by my peers who like what I’m doing and that I’m on the right track.

You are also on The Client List, which puts you in a rare field to be on three programs on three different networks at the same time. How do you make it work?

LD: After doing Adele Webber for seven years on Grey’s Anatomy, I’m so aware as to who she is and what she does, and with Georgia Cummings on The Client List, it’s a new creation of a character and I’m so excited that it was based in the South because I’m from Houston, Texas. I play the character with a little bit of an accent and she’s feisty and she has own image of herself. She’s running her own business. My approach on the character is totally different from what I do on Grey’s Anatomy. It’s a fun character and she wears these long braids and is a Madam, which makes her a very outgoing woman. It was a chance to do something different and I was excited by that.

What keeps you grounded?

LD: My family, friends, and work keep me ground. I have a lot of little projects that keep me grounded. I like to do things with. My hands like crocheting and sewing. I’ve also been working on a one woman show that I got a chance to do last year. I’m trying to tweak it a bit and rewrite some of the poetry and redo some of the songs that I use in it. I have a lot of other things that I do when I’m not working on a regular show.

What’s the one woman show about?

LD: The one woman show is called ‘Pieces of Me’ and it’s about some of the things that people don’t know about me like the poertry and songs that I like. It’s just personal stuff, so the show is about my life basically.

Sparkle just came out. Did you get a chance to see it?

LD: I was at the premiere last week and saw Whitney’s amazing performance. I was in ‘Jumping the Broom’ and know Salim Akim, who directed ‘Sparkle.’ I spoke to Whitney when she was cast in this and we were talking about ‘Waiting to Exhale 2′ and whether or now she was ready to do it. She was just excited about things at that time and I’m excited for Salim and how everything worked out because he’s such a wonderful director.

Is ‘Waiting to Exhale’ 2 still a go?

LD: They are still working on it and the success of Sparkle will even help it come to fruition. I’m still looking forward to doing it. Terry McMillan is still working on it.

Your career started on stage with ‘Dreamgirls’ and we’ve had a few musicals on screen lately. How come we haven’t seen you in any of them?

LD: Actually, Dreamgirls was the only musical I did and that was a long time ago. Sometimes when you are working, you can’t get to other projects. I wouldn’t have been right for Sparkle. Sometimes you have to be right for whatever is happening. People are destined to do certain parts. That was Whitney’s movie. Nowadays, I play mom roles. I’m up for a couple of things so let’s see if they happen. A lot of times, the financing of project don’t come together so you just have to wait to see what happens.

What’s a good reason to pick up Doc McStuffins on DVD?

LD: I think it’s a wonderful show. It came out on my birthday, August 21st, and if you have any young kids around you, it’s the perfect gift for them. They absolutely love the show.


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