If you missed it in the theaters,the romantic comedy Baggage Claim can be picked up on DVD, Blu Ray and on demand starting tomorrow. Actress Jenifer Lewis, the go-to Black movie mom, plays star Paula Patton’s marriage-minded mother in the movie. Although it’s been reported that she’s been in 300 movies, it must be her larger-than-life presence because Lewis says that’s not true.
“These journalists need to get it together. I’ve been in over 300 film and television movies and theatre and God knows how many men I’ve slept with,” Lewis jokes with The Tom Joyner Morning Show.
In terms of her favorite roles, Lewis doesn’t have any of those ‘I can choose’ excuses. She knows exactly which roles were her favorite.
“In film, it was Thelma Bullock, Tina’s Turners’ mother (in What’s Love Got to Do With It) and on TV, it was Aunt Helen on The Fresh Prince of Bel Air.”
Lewis, now 57, was born and raised in Missouri. She knew she wanted to act and once she moved to New York City, opportunities came about pretty quickly. Since then, she’s barely had a break doing movies, TV and theatre, including her own made for TV movie, Jackie’s Back, now on DVD. In her next project, Lewis and Debbie Allen are collaborating on Ventura Boulevard, set for release next year. It’s a homage to the film classic Sunset Boulevard starring Gloria Swanson, about an aging actress’ last attempt at the spotlight.
Lewis has created a little industry for herself, though, playing moms in the aforementioned What’s Love Got to Do With It and Baggage Claim, Think Like A Man, Panther, Dead Presidents and The Preacher’s Wife. On That’s So Raven, she played Raven’s psychic grandmother. Ironically, in real life, Lewis has no children.
“I’ve played a couple of doctors, a couple of lawyers. They call me the Black mother of Hollywood,” Lewis says.
One thing about Lewis’ mothers, though, they’re never the matronly type. They are always fully realized women with lives and loves of their own. Although she plays Patton’s demanding mother in Baggage Claim, Catherine is a character with her own romantic issues.
“Baggage Claim is a very sweet romantic comedy. It’s for the whole family. Everybody needs to get a copy because it’s a movie the whole family can sit down and watch. My character Catherine, now she was dysfunctional, but her heart was in the right place. She just wanted to see her daughter settle down.”