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Alfre Woodard Finds Balance in Life, Career

Alfre Woodard

By// Britni Danielle

Legendary actress Alfre Woodard is a true chameleon. Over the past 30 years, the Tulsa, OK native has transformed herself into a hard-charging cop, a recovering addict, an enslaved mistress, and the homophobic mother of a gay medium. To say her career has been interesting is an understatement. But none of these roles have anything on Woodard herself.

“I’m so complex. I sound like a Nikki Giovanni poem,” she jokes, explaining the approach to her craft. “No one has ever written a character that even comes close to who I am personally. Even if they did, one of the first laws of acting, for me, is don’t use yourself. You have to step outside of yourself and discover who that individual character is.”

In her most recent leap, Woodard teamed up with Queen Latifah, Jill Scott, and Phylicia Rashad to remake the 1989 classic, Steel Magnolias. Produced for Lifetime, the updated version reimagines the chick-flick with an all-Black cast— something its creator, Robert Harling, championed after seeing a stage performance with an African-American ensemble. “They just lit it up and made it come alive even more than he had imagined it,” Woodard explains.

Woodard plays Ouiser, a cantankerous widow who refuses to bite her tongue; a trait the actress was instantly drawn to. “I always like to act bad because you don’t get to be absolutely frank and candid in life,” she says. “You have to temper the things you say and think because of people’s feelings, and Ouiser doesn’t do that.”

TO READ MORE ABOUT HOW ALFRE WOODARD FINDS BALANCE, PICK UP THE NEW ISSUE OF JET MAGAZINE, ON SALE TODAY.