Emayatzy Corinealdi Q&A: ‘Roots’
“Belle has not only a fortitude but a beautiful vulnerability,” says Emayatzy Corinealdi as we chat via webcam (watch above) about her character in the History Channel miniseries “Roots,” which airs over four consecutive nights from May 30 to June 2. “She has this strength about her that is almost a requirement to have lived at that time, to be able to wake up every day and still continue to fight to live as a lot of them had to. She really fought for her family. She was willing to do whatever it took to make sure they were safe.” Dish “Roots” with Hollywood insiders in our notorious forums by clicking here.
Alex Haley‘s 1976 bestseller became a landmark miniseries the following year and won nine Emmys from a remarkable 37 nominations. One of those bids was for Madge Sinclair in the role of Belle. “What Madge Sinclair was able to do with Belle in the original was beautiful,” says Corinealdi of her predecessor. “What she did was already so wonderful and perfect that I knew I could not attempt to try to touch that. I had to do my own interpretation of Belle and who she was.”
But Corinealdi was wary of the idea of remaking “Roots.” “I wanted to know what they felt they were going to add to it,” she explains or her initial apprehension. But she answered that question for herself. “Speaking to my own nieces and nephews, I saw the opportunity to introduce this to a whole new generation. For me that was an exciting possibility, to be able to be part of that conversation.”
And the legacy of slavery is every bit as relevant now as it was in 1977. She adds, “The fact that there’s a need to have [the Black Lives Matter movement] in 2016, you would think that by now there wouldn’t be a need for something like that, and I agree that you can draw those lines. You can see where things began. That’s why it’s important to me to have this whole generation be able to witness this so they can draw the parallels for themselves.”