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My Interview With Sapphire

My Interview With Sapphire

Before I get to the subject a few words. I can’t really recall now how many interviews I’ve done in the past 6 years or so since I stumbled into doing it. Quite a few I can tell you. I’ve talked to them all: actors, actresses, directors, screenwriters, opera singers and a few odds and ends here and there.

And with the exception of one well known B (more like B minus) actress who was a real nightmare (which wasn’t a surprise to me since I always suspected she was and I was right) they all have gone very well.

But rarely do I have get apprehensive before an interview. I can count the number of times on one hand that I was a little nervous before interviewing soneone:

Chris Rock because I knew I had to be sharp, witty and on my game or else I would be fodder for his next stand up comic show. Thank God I didn’t.

Halle Berry because it was Halle Berry and it turned out to be one my best and more interesting interviews,

Kerry Washington because it was Kerry Washington and that also turned out to be one of best interviews ever,

Pam Grier because it was Pam Grier and that turned out to be a pretty interesting one too. At first she was giving me pre-packaged rehearsed answers to my questions and to get her to “come out” I started intentionally to challenge her on some things she said and she started to get pretty feisty and tuning into the Pam we all know and love and it turned out great and she knew it too.

I say all this because I was also somewhat apprehensive when I interviewed the author Sapphire week before last, because just judging from what I know about her, I figured she would be a passionate, intense person who doesn’t suffer fools gladly. And since I’m the biggest fool out there I thought I might have my work cut out for me.

As it turned out she was definitely passionate and intense, but a really nice person and as you will see has a lot to say. In fact our conversation after our official interview was over was just as intense and fascinating.

So here’s my interview with Sapphire which came out today on HERE Tell us what you think

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There aren’t any typos. it’s just the way she talks which I recorded. It looks awkward but she has an unusual way of expressing herself

L.M. Gipson

Liked the interview, but hated the editing. There are enough typos in that piece to teach an English class with. Who’s doing the copyediting over at Ebony?: You should demand they clean that up, man. That’s a prized interview clip for you, if they get that editing right.


“I’m sure people think that Sapphire being an author would be speaking the King’s English. She doesn’t”

That’s another great point Sergio. I, myself, has read a book and then heard the author speak, and my my my, was I shocked. Even their every day – normal written “exchanges” , sometimes pales in comparison with their book(s). I mean, like in most professions, we sometimes stratify said professionals above the average man, simply because of their profession. In the case of novelists, first and foremost, they are telling a story that may have taken them months or years to write. And in the interim before the finished product there are “test readers” and editors who play a huge roll in what we see between the book covers (and plenty of time to make changes).

So again, I thought the interview was great. I loved how Sapphire addressed the issue of “Controversy”


Unlike most interviewers, I NEVER rewrite what my subject says to make them sound better. i want to capture their “voice” ,the awkwardness, the clumsy syntax and all. The way they truly express themselves. I’m sure people think that Sapphire being an author would be speaking the King’s English. She doesn’t.

Not surprisingly I have noticed that the most perfect use of language has been when I have interviewed British actors like Thandie Newton and Chwetel Ejiofor


“There aren’t any typos. it’s just the way she talks”

Now that’s an interesting note… the written word vs the spoken word. Very seldom, if ever can/does the written word capture all the nuances of a person’s “voice”. Commas, exclamation marks, dashes, etc, cannot capture the essence of tone, cadence, the lengh of a pause/break, pitch, etc,.

As that relates to film/movies, I believe that’s when a good screenwriter, actor and director merge to produce a product that does not seem/sound scripted/pretentious-fake-phony. How many times have we said… “we-he-she-nobody talks like that”

In short, when I saw what some may consider as typos, they didn’t bother me in the least. I heard Sapphire’s interview on NPR, so I knew that’s how she talks.

Transcribing an interview is always a slippery slope.


Well Sergio, I have to say – even though you don’t love me no mo’ – that was a great interview. Your questions were not soft in my opinion. They seemed to have a specific purpose in mind. You were like a spy on a special mission. You’ve heard all the “complaints” and you’ve been in several discussion concerning Precious, and you’ve written you own review of the movie, so your questions didn’t have to have adversarial nor “challenging”/aggressive tones. Each question was leading to the next, and I felt your personal view/opinion/stance in each question because I know some of your feelings on the subject. Your were in essence drawing a picture. She saw it, felt it (every question) and jumped right in, as only she could.

I loved how you framed a couple questions with a hint of your perception, and she stepped right up and essentially said. “Nope, that’s not it at all, and let me tell you why”.

Another thing a liked about the interview is how she addressed, for the most part, every issue that has been debated about the movie Precious. I mean, I can go on about all the issues that she addressed and how she shredded them one by one, but it would take 5 pages. Well, let me do one… just one. When she talked about how her books are being used as educational tools, I stood up and said “YES!”. I’ve heard so many comments saying the movie had not left anything but shock and awe (which I disagreed with) I wanted to stick my tongue out at those who have made such unsubstantiated opinions.

Good interview my man… good job. And with your permission, I’d like to post this comment, my comment, at the Ebony site…. minus a few words.


Pretty soft questions.

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