Angela Bassett Interview: ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show,’ ‘The Imagineering Story’
Angela Bassett earned two Emmy nominations this year for projects that couldn’t be more different: Best Comedy Guest Actress for HBO’s “A Black Lady Sketch Show” and Best Narrator for Disney+‘s documentary series “The Imagineering Story.” In one, she leads a bad bitches support group in an episode appropriately titled “Angela Bassett is the Baddest Bitch.” In the other, she recounts the story of how Disney creative artists and technicians created attractions for theme parks here and abroad. Watch our exclusive interview with Bassett about her dual nominations above.
Her “Black Lady Sketch Show” appearance went pretty quickly, as she recalls: “We filmed actually about four to five hours — morning until about noon or 1:00 — so it was a really quick turnaround. I got to work with some amazing young artists that I was just becoming familiar with,” as well as fellow guest-starring bad bitch Laverne Cox. But even though the scene was scripted, there was still “an improvised feel to the day … almost like walking on a tight rope. You could try different things.”
“The Imagineering Story,” however, required her to rein in some of her creative instincts. She “worked on that over the course of about six days — six long, involved days,” she explains. Instead of being surrounded by co-stars, “I’m in a studio by myself with the writer, producer and engineer in another space … Being a thespian, I can be a little dramatic, trying to sort of massage a point, and they really would want to take some of that emotion and theatricality out of it, almost like ‘just the facts, ma’am.’ It was very different in that way, which I appreciated.”
This is her second Emmy nomination in both categories. She previously contended for Best Comedy Guest Actress in 2017 for playing Lena Waithe‘s mother in the acclaimed “Thanksgiving” episode of “Master of None,” and she was up for Best Narrator just last year for the National Geographic nature documentary “The Flood.” If she wins the latter category, she’d be the first Black woman ever to win a Primetime Emmy for narration. On the prospect of achieving that milestone, she declares, “Well it’s nice to be first.”