In her latest movie, Angela Bassett plays a character faced with the question: Can a woman find lasting happiness with a man half her age?
How Stella Got Her Groove Back is about an overworked 40-year-old woman who meets a 20-year-old man in Montego Bay, Jamaica. Bassett plays the title role of Stella, a professional woman who is looking to add some excitement back into her life, but never has the time because she is a workaholic.
Stella is based on a Terry McMillan novel, as was Waiting to Exhale, in which Bassett played an angry divorcee. But in Stella, Bassett is a little luckier in love, reports CBS 'This Morning' Co-Anchor Mark McEwen.
"It's a double standard," Bassett, 40, says of cultural objections to unions between older women and younger men. "Perhaps because the women are the nurturers. They are the mothers. They raise the children. So perhaps that's why we raise a few eyebrows when he looks as if he could be her child. But he's not."
Although the movie was shot in Jamaica, Bassett says she didn't get to see much of the island "We shot six out of seven days," she explains. "But it was beautiful. The people were warm and a great deal of [workers on] our set were Jamaicans, and they worked so hard. I enjoyed it, to wake up every day to see the sky and the water. It was a piece of paradise."
Will Stella help the presence of black artists on the big screen by focusing on a sensual love story?
"I think it does a lot for our self-esteem as a people," says Bassett. "There is no ugly stereotype. It's...just very human, very funny, very beautiful and graceful. A lot of grace notes."
In Stella, the sidekick and best girlfriend is played by Whoopi Goldberg.
"I met Whoopi about 10 years ago, when I first came to L.A., and I saw her in a restaurant," recalls Bassett. "I went up to her to say, 'I really liked you [in a film].' She was so warm, so genuine, so open. I just fell in love with her immediately."
Bassett, born in Florida, studied drama at Yale University and started her acting career in the theater. She later moved on to television.
But her big break came when she played singer Tina Turner in What's Love Got to Do With It? For her performance, she was nominated for an Academy Award, and she says it is her favorite among all the roles she has played.
"Well, I've loved them all; they've been special to me," says Bassett. "But What's Love has got to be my favorite, because it was the breakout role for me. Five years later, it's still special. It was the most difficult role to act, because Tina is still out there."
But, says Bassett, Turner made it easy for her. "She was so encouraging and supportive. She gave me lots of big hugs. I was ervous and intimidated, but there was no need to be around her."
Bassett is looking for a project with her husband, Courtney Vance, who attended Yale School of Drama with her. And she has just finished a science fiction movie called Supernova.
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