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LIVE 24-SEVEN


ACADEMY AWARD WINNING STAR OF STAGE AND SCREEN


actually the first time that she felt contemporary. Because all of these women, they were products of the 60s; women of colour who had no agency, who had no civil rights, who were treated as second-class citizens. It was the first time that I didn't have to play that. I didn't have to address it. I was confronted with it in a scene by Michael Shannon, but that wasn't a part of my narrative.


He told me, after I'd read it and we'd talked about it, that he wanted to empower my character. I felt empowered. It was a unique way to have this woman be a central figure in this narrative and it not be about her skin colour or her gender. I can tell you that my journey with this project is one of sheer gratitude. The fact that he wrote a character who has a complete arc, while I am serving the greater narrative, I have my own narrative within it. It has nothing, again, to do with my ethnicity or my gender. That was refreshing.


Did it make you reflect on the kind of roles that usually come across your desk? I can tell you that it changed the way I look at scripts now. Because I would always choose projects. Sometimes the characters were undeveloped or underdeveloped, but they serve this wonderful narrative. Now I'm hungering for characters where my character is a central character. I'm transitioning into looking for those types of projects only because you realize that it can be done. You realize that even the supporting characters get to have an arc. That's what I am now gravitating towards.


Guillermo wrote these parts with actors in mind. Describe your reaction to finding out he wanted you to play Zelda. It is humbling. I will tell you that I've seen every Guillermo del Toro movie before I met Guillermo del Toro. I'm a huge Guillermo del Toro fan. I've also watched a lot of the things that he's executive produced. One of my favorite shows was The Strain. I was a little obsessed with him. My agent told me that I would be meeting with him to talk about a fairy tale that he'd written. It was a 30-minute coffee that they'd set up at breakfast time. Three hours later, when they're changing the guard getting ready for lunch, we realized we had talked about everything from politics to love. Everything, but we hadn't talked about the script. In the last five minutes as he's paying the check, he says, “I wrote this part for you. I'm not going to tell you anything about it. I want you to read it and tell me what you think.”


Of course, I race home. I was in when I read the first page, seeing Elisa underwater in her dream and how he describes everything that we see floating. I was like; “How the hell is he going to do that? It's going to be great. I want to be a part of it.” Then I read, and Zelda is a cleaning lady, and I'm like, “Oh, no.” But even though this would have been the third time that I played a woman from this era, it was


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