Jenifer Lewis: Actress Talks “Baggage Claim,” “Jackie’s Back” & Bipolar Disorder

She’s been in 63 films, 259 television shows and four Broadways shows and veteran actress Jenifer Lewis shows no signs of slowing down.

At 56-years-old, Lewis said she’s finally learned to keep her career in perspective – celebrating the great times and not focusing on the missteps.

“As you get older, you go back. You go back to all the good and bad memories. But what happens is that you realize if you come to a moment in life that’s so blissful, which is where I really kind of function now, you realize they were all good memories. Everything about them was good, I have no regrets,” she offered to AlwaysAList.com, before adding: “Well, there was that one man in Chicago, but other than that I sailed through!”

Paula Patton & Jenifer Lewis in “Baggage Claim”

The Kinloch, Mo.-bred talent – who was supposed to play Effie White in the original “Dreamgirls” musical but was replaced by Jennifer Holliday – said she’s humbled to have such a storied career.

“As artists we think you’re never going to work again when the job is done. But I do live in the moment. I couldn’t even tell you about the press conference [I did earlier]. If you’re happy in the moment of your life, I don’t care what they say; I don’t care what they write. I’m 56, I don’t give a f—k what yall write about me no more. Why is that? Because I know who I am,” she declared.

Lewis, who has starred in films like “Think Like A Man,” “Hereafter,” “What’s Love Got to Do With It” and both installments of “Sister Act,” said that working with producer/director David E. Talbert in her latest film “Baggage Claim” was a wonderful experience.

Lewis said she didn’t have to audition for the role, but instead met with the filmmaker about the part over a meal.

“He took me to lunch. Talk about a class act. He didn’t call me; he said I’d like to take you to lunch. Of course I chose the most expensive restaurant I could find and said, ‘I’ll meet you there,'” she recalled, before adding: “So if the script had been s—t, I would have done this film because of David E. Talbert.”

Its no secret that Lewis has played mothers in many of the 63 films she’s appeared in, but said her character Catherine Moore, the mother to Paula Patton’s Montana Moore in “Baggage Claim,” wasn’t more of the same.

“What David gave me in this film was a true arc to my character. Every character has an arc but this meant so much because Catherine came out of the gate so desperate and dysfunctional. When you’re not really paying attention to what you children are saying to you, there’s something deeply wrong, especially from a woman who has been married five times herself,” she explained.

Terrence Jenkins, Lauren London & Jenifer Lewis in “Baggage Claim.”

In a candid conversation at the Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills, Lewis also talks about her bipolar disorder, whether her popular film “Jackie’s Back” could become a television series and whether she still has a dream role after all of this time. Listen to the audio from our interview below. “Baggage Claim” is in theaters now.

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1 comment

  1. Jackie Toye 29 November, 2013 at 15:08 Reply

    I love her!! Great interview and I hope the movie becomes a Television Series and please don’t worry if the large networks snub you. A&E and the others are what’s hot right now.

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