Interview with Anika Noni Rose

Anika Noni Rose is currently starring in Tyler Perry’s latest film “For Colored Girls”.  Anika also voiced Princess Tiana in Disney’s “The Princess and The Frog” and starred along side Beyonce Knowles and Jennifer Hudson in “Dreamgirls”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Anika about her new movie and what it was like to play a Disney Princess.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your role of Jasmine in “For Colored Girls”?
Anika Noni Rose: She is a dancer and teaches dance. She is  really positive and light. She had students she is trying to send forth and move them on to college. She is a great lover of music. She is one of the people who walks down the street and has their own personal soundtrack. She is always hearing music and seeing beauty in things. She has an encounter that changes her life.

MG: How was it working with such a strong female cast?
AR: It was wonderful working with everyone since it so rarely happens to have all that great talent and women of color together. It was interesting too because we didn’t even get to work together so much. So often we were either paired up or by yourself. So the times we were together were mostly in the makeup trailer or passing each other on the way to do our scenes. Even that was joyous because it was like passing the baton. Literally my first day on the set, I was walking on and Loretta Devine was walking off. When I walked off the set, Kerry Washington was walking on. It was fantastic to be able to share that with them.

MG: How was it working with director Tyler Perry?
AR: It was really good. He is an extraordinarily collaborative director. He is very open to whatever you are bringing to the picture. There was always open dialogue about the character’s journey and what you felt worked. That is a great thing to have. You are allowed to bring with you the history that you have created for this person.

MG: How did it feel for you to be a Disney Princess in “The Princess and the Frog”?
AR: It was fantastic. It was something I always wanted to do. Not even necessarily be a princess but just to be a voice for Disney. I was thrilled and also determined to get the role. I was so glad I was able to do that. I have already seen pictures of little itty-bitty Tiana’s for their Halloween costumes. It is really beautiful to see that so many people are affected by the character. She has this forward thinking and it is something you rarely see in a film.

MG: The music in the film is so fun, one of my favorites, did you enjoy recording it?
AR: I didn’t actually sing on the soundtrack. There is a rumor out that I am but I am not. No, I wish I were. God, I wish I were. I had personal things happening in my life that I wasn’t able to be around when the soundtrack was being done. So the person that you do have on it is  Janelle Monáe. She is one of the most innovative people to come out and extraordinary talented. Jill Scott is also on the soundtrack, so you are alright! So I am not singing in the film.

MG: What was the best part for you working on “Dreamgirls”?
AR: I think just being a part of it in general. I am Broadway girl, so I couldn’t think of a better segue for myself. It was a lot of work but I am used to that type of work. So to me it was about just a different way of pacing yourself. I am used to creating a musical. I am familiar with that landscape. The difference on the film is you are going to do the beginning of that song about twelve times before lunch. Then you are going to do it again from another angle after lunch another eight times. You will be working on one song for two days over and over. It is a different type of stamina. Did I feel like I was out of my zone? No.

MG: You have worked in comedy, drama, animation, what is your favorite type of role?
AR: No favorite, but I am ready to be bad now [laughs]. I am ready to me bad. It would be great to be a superhero character. I am ready to fly in the air and kick somebody. I am prepared for that. I am not sure what’s the next thing I am going to do, but I would like to see a five foot two woman kicking butt.

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