Angela Bassett, Mary J. Blige talk Betty & CorettaPosted by Wilson Morales
January 29, 2013
Last night, Blackfilm.com attended the premiere of Lifetime’s Betty & Coretta, which tells the dual stories of Coretta Scott King (played by Angela Bassett) and Dr. Betty Shabazz (played by Mary J. Blige) as they carry on as single mothers following the assassinations of their husbands, Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X.
Held at the Tribeca Cinema with a reception co-hosted by Essence Magazine, attended included Bassett, Blige, Lindsay Owen Pierre, Malik Yoba, Ruby Dee, Chersie Boothe, producer Larry Sanitsky, Tyra Banks, and Miss J. Alexander.
Focusing on the extraordinary women behind the two men who would change history, Betty & Coretta tells the similar true stories of Coretta Scott King (Angela Bassett), wife of Dr. Martin Luther King (Malik Yoba) and Dr. Betty Shabazz (Mary J. Blige), wife of Malcolm X (Lindsay Owen Pierre). When their husbands were tragically assassinated, these two women not only inherited the mantle of the civil rights movement in America, each also found herself to be a single mother who had to find a way to raise and support her children with no husband or father, resulting in a relationship like no other that spanned more than three decades.
Blackfilm.com had a chance to speak with Blige and Bassett about playing iconic figures, and what they learned from playing the roles.
What drew you to the project?
Mary J. Blige: When the material was brought to us by Polly Anthony, she told us that Betty and Coretta were friends and I had no idea that they were friends. I had no idea that the families knew each other. The first that came to mind was that no one had ever told the story from the perspective of a woman in a relationship with a powerful man. Women never get a chance to tell their story and how they helped those get to where they are, and vice-versa. Women never get a chance to say, “I’m important too.” I not only wanted to tell the story because of that but because these women saved each other’s lives and that’s what my friends and I do for each other. By being there when times are really hard.
After people see the film, what is it that they will learn about Betty that can’t found in books?
Mary J. Blige: Everything is all there, but I didn’t know that she liked to dance and she had such a sense of humor.
What did you learn from taking on this role?
MJB: As an actress, acting is a very hard job to do. You have to study your craft. You have to be serious about it if you really want it and actors are amazing.
AB: I’m just a woman being American and who has a heart for things to get better. A heart for people.
How was working with Angela?
MJB: I’m one of Angela’s biggest fans so that was a dream come true for me. She’s an amazing woman.
Kicking off Lifetime’s Black History Month celebration, Betty & Coretta will premiere Saturday, February 2, at 8:00pm ET/PT.
Photos provided by Getty Images.