Q&A with Jill Scott

Actress, musician, poet, and overall wonderful person Jill Scott has made a career inspiring people. Now, she's being recognized: Essence Magazine is honoring her as their Black Woman in Music of 2015. With Grammys, four albums, and a tangible sense of joy that seeps into everything she does, Jill is absolutely worthy of such an honor. She's also an incredible actress, having starred as the lead in HBO's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency and Steel Magnolias. Whatever she's doing, you can be sure that if Jill Scott's name is attached to it, it'll be filled with a ton of heart. She was kind enough to sit down with GoGoMix to tell us about the film, her music, and some of her favorite things!

GGM: Let’s talk about With This Ring. What a star studded cast! How fun was it to work on this movie?

JS: I really, really had a great time! The ladies are wonderful! So smart, so beautiful, so cool! We really created a wonderful friendship outside of this film. They’re extraordinary. I would be any of them if I had to choose (laughs).

GGM: Your character, Viviane, is a successful gossip columnist in love with her son’s father. Can you describe your relationship with this character? What spoke to you about the role?

JS: I think I understand. When you have a love for someone and you also share a child, it’s kinda challenging to hold that in. She’s been holding it in for forever. She wants to love, and she knows that they had something at one point, and she’s doing her best to get those feelings to light again and it doesn’t seem to be working, and it’s really frustrating. I can relate to that. 

GGM: You’re also Essence’s Black Women in Music honoree this year. You’ve won plenty of awards, including several Grammys, but is there something special about this award in particular?

JS: One, I certainly didn’t see it coming. I think it takes a little more time, but I had to look at it and realize it’s been fifteen years, and quite a lot of records, and quite a lot of touring, and most careers don’t last five years let alone fifteen! I really feel privileged to do what I do for this amount of time and know that it’s impacted people in such a way that Essence has decided to honor me. It’s overwhelming! I hope I’ll be able to keep my face straight as I give my little speech!

GGM: I understand your next album is still in production and that unfortunately it’s been delayed a little bit, but I can imagine it’s been tough to settle down and focus on it with all your projects! How is it looking nowadays?

JS: It’s looking pretty good! I finished the last song and we’re in mixing, but these things just take time. I wanted to rush the process a few times, like “Oh, I just want it to be over,” but it’s a labor of love. You have to be patient with your craft. You have to be patient with yourself. And of course, I have been doing films in between and writing in between. It’s coming at its own pace. I refuse to rush it. It’s something I’ve been working on for three years now, and I need it to be everything it should be.  

GGM: Now let’s move on to some favorite things, and since With This Ring is about to premiere, I was wondering if you could tell me some of your favorite romantic comedies.

JS: Let’s see… I would have to say When Harry Met Sally. I love that movie. I love The Best Man 2 (Holiday). I adore that movie. 

GGM: Now how about some of your favorite TV shows?

JS: Favorite TV shows of all time… The Cosby Show, for one. The Jeffersons, Sanford and Son, Mork and Mindy

GGM: That’s a great list of classic sitcoms! What are some songs you can’t stop playing right now?

JS: Right now I can’t stop playing “I Don’t F*ck With You,” by Big Sean! (laughs) It tickles me. It’s a really perfect song to play before a concert. I can’t stop playing “Make Me Lovely,” by Laura Mvula. I love that song. I’m playing Leon Ware, “Holiday,” and Mac Miller, “Goosebumpz,” like crazy right now. 

GGM: How about a couple favorite albums of all time?

JS: Okay, Under the Cherry Moon by Prince. Here, My Dear by Marvin Gaye. Plantation Lullabies, by Meshell Ndegeocello. Love, love, love that record. 

GGM: You also have a theater background. Can you tell me a couple of favorite musicals?

JS: Well, Rent is still one of my favorites. Wicked is another. I loved Wicked. Dreamgirls still is amazing to me. And… Company! (sings) Bobby baby, Bobby bubby!

GGM: You’re also a poet! What are your poetry recommendations? 

JS: I’m a big fan of Nikki Giovanni. She’s the reason I began writing. The Last Poets. Langston Hughes. I don’t know if people categorize him as a poet, but I really like Edgar Allen Poe. It’s so scary and menacing and dark and colorful!

GGM: Anything you’re reading right now?

JS: Right now I’m reading Wild Seed by Octavia Butler. It’s a science fiction book. I love it. It’s not my first time reading it. It’s like my twentieth time reading it!

GGM: When you’re out on the road, is there a spot, say a restaurant or store, where you feel you have to go every time you’re in that city?

JS: I have to hit Buddakan in Philadelphia. They have this amazing lobster fried rice that’s incredible. I have to hit Nobu for a drink with Yammamomo berry, and their miso cod is to die for. The food really is amazing.

GGM: And finally, is there a story from With This Ring that you think is pretty silly?

JS: Well, the four of us for the entire film, we practiced doing the Dirty Wind, and it was hilarious watching Regina (Hall) because it meant everything to her to get this dance right. It was very funny. We enjoy dancing!


-Adam Downer

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