Obscure Black C-Listers: Jenifer Lewis
Thembi Ford 14 March 2008 8 Comments
Even though Jenifer Lewis isn’t too obscure considering she’s been pretty much EVERYWHERE in tv and movies for the past 30 years, even if you knew her name already you probably didn’t realize that it only has one ‘n’. Jenifer Lewis is actually a real Diva – with years of experience on Broadway, she’s carved out a path for herself and her one-woman shows, which include singing and impersonations of various characters, and has dozens of credits to her name. I, for one, would looooove to see her show, because like most black c-listers she always plays the same part – if you need a loud, perfunctory auntie or mother who’s still “got it goin‘ on” Jennifer Lewis has been your best bet for the past 20 years or so (even though she’s only 50 now). I really like her EXCEPT the fact that she was in what I consider the worst movie ever, Nora’s Hair Salon. She played a loud, perfunctory hairdresser who – spoiler alert – lived on after her untimely death through her extra-special relaxer formula (back in my Brooklyn days I was watching this movie over the phone with some dude, and the thug actually cried…over some hair perm!). I’ll give her props for her season on A Different World as “Dean Dorothy Dandridge Davenport,” and further props to whoever wrote that uber-colored name into the show. I also loved her as Toni’s mother on Girlfriends, a perfect casting choice considering the near-congenital overbite but that give both her and Jill Marie Jones their characteristic look. I don’t do Tyler Perry movies (if I sound like a snob, that’s because I am one), but she’s in the new one playing a…well…you know.