Courtney B. Vance has been a staple in film industry for a number of years. He’s an Emmy and Tony award winning actor, and he is currently starring in the Netflix film, Uncorked. Vance stars as the owner of a Memphis barbecue business and would like to pass down the family business to his son, Elijah (played by Mamoudou Athie) . However, Elijah is more interested in becoming a master sommelier. We recently got a chance to speak with Vance about the film and more.
TheMovieBlog: I really appreciated what this movie, Uncorked tried to do in terms of bringing a very unconventional and niche industry in the forefront of black audiences and such. Could you speak to the meaning and the impact what [Uncorked] represents, the dynamics within the family structures, and as an actor, what kind of importance does [that impact] carry with you to be part of a story like this?
Courtney B. Vance: You know, the more we get the opportunity to show the colors of the African-American, the black experience in America, it just enhances everyone’s experience…Because everybody has a different experience….That experience that was on the screen is not everyone’s experience in chocolate, it’s just not. But you can watch it and make it a learning experience. As we [African Americans] have done throughout our time here in America, when there wasn’t any chocolate sauce on the television, we had to just put ourselves into that vanilla element and we did. We know how to do that. We know how to see a Meryl Streep and Sophie’s Choice and go “Oh man, I know that struggle.” We do that. They [Non-African Americans] have not had that experience and the more people can see all the different aspects of what it is to be African-American…and don’t sleep on slavery. The Jewish folks, they make sure they remember. They don’t forget and that’s what I think we need to add into the sauce. Don’t forget. Don’t try to, “oh yeah, it happened and we don’t need to….”. No, no, we need to remember. Everyone needs to remember what that was and what that is. Not that it’s gone. It is, but we’re still dealing with it.
TheMovieBlog: The performances in Uncorked, I thought were phenomenal. From you, Niecy Nash, and all the new talented actors that were there…How much of that was scripted, ad lib or was it just great on-screen chemistry between you all?
Courtney B. Vance:: It’s all of the above. You’re not going to confine Niecy Nash to a box, nor did Prentice Penny want to. So, any great director is going to set up a framework and then let his or her actors know, “Just make it better. This is the template, this is what I had in my mind. Tell me what you think.” And he did that with the cast and he did that with his crew so that he didn’t have to know everything. That’s another aspect of a great director, they don’t have to know everything. They know that I hired you, I anticipate and expect that you are going to make my film the best that it can be. So just tell me, “what is my idea, what do you think?” And it’s all about collaboration.
TheMovieBlog:: You’ve been giving us decades of consistent, quality of wonderful performances. What are the keys to longevity and respect in the movie industry, and what kind of advice would you pass on to some of these newer actors coming onto the scene?
Courtney B. Vance: Save your money. Save your money. Get your rhythm and [know] where the cleaners is and where things are. Connect with people and recognize that it’s a different day than when I grew up in the business because you can get on your computer and text folks, and Instagram folks, and do your own thing. Don’t be afraid to do your own thing. People are making projects with iPhones, and it’s possible now. So, don’t sit around and wait for folks to do things. People say, “So how do you get started?”. Wherever you are, in the city that you are, you take that face cloth and you wring it dry. Don’t leave no stone unturned in your city. If you can do it there, then you can do it anywhere. So, if you’re in Atlanta, Dayton, Ohio, Detroit… wherever you are, find the community theater….Just get in there and be a part and see how much you love it. See if it’s in your blood. If it’s in your blood, then you’ve got to do it. And you’ll put up with all you need to put up with in order for it to happen for you.
Director: Prentice Penny
Writers: Prentice Penny
Stars: Courtney B. Vance, Mamoudou Athie, Lashun Pollard, Niecy Nash, Michael Mobley |