After the press screening of the film Sparkle, Shadow and Act was able to participate in a roundtable, as well as individual interviews with cast and crew, at the Four Seasons hotel in Beverly HIlls, California. During these sessions, we captured the inside story on the films mission, insights about the storylines, and valuable information from the producers, cast, and of the project.
As promised, leading up to the film’s release next week Friday, we will share those roundtable and individual conversations, starting yesterday with Carmen Ejogo, who plays Sister Anderson in the film (you can read that interview HERE).
Today’s interview is with Derek Luke, which fllows below:
Shadow & Act: Tell us the story behind your acting career. What led you to acting?
Derek Luke: I was watching TV at age 9 or 10, and my mom said that I came from the front room and I told her that I want to act. And she said if you want to do this at 18, then you can. It was a very simple story, yet, I do not even remember the conversation that I had with my mother. Until she reminded me of the story many years later. Then after high school, give or take a few years, I left for LA. I did not tell my mother why I moved to LA, until I arrived.
Shadow & Act: Did you review the original version of the film before you booked this role?
Derek Luke: I did not want to take away from the original by watching the original, but I did see it. Actually, my agent and wife had me watch the film.
Shadow & Act: Why didn’t you want to review the original? I’d think it would be cool to see how the original characters were portrayed.
Derek Luke: Well, I did not want to take away from my own imagination when creating the role. I prefer to approach characters that way. I actually did this with my first film, “Antwone Fisher.” It was an original screenplay, yet, I pulled from my real life experiences for that role. With Sparkle, my agent sent me the movie before he sent the script. So, I watched it. With this film, I really loved the love story in it. I know that Mara did not want to mimic the original, so when I arrived to the table read it was refreshing to read a different film.
Shadow & Act: Your character Stix, had a Sidney Poitier vibe. Can you tell us a little more about the role of Stix? The character was elegant, and gentle with Sparkle.
Derek Luke: I pulled a lot from my Dad. My father was several years older than my mother, and a foreigner. So, I studied their courtship a lot.
Shadow & Act: That’s cool, so you did not pull from the original film at all?
Derek Luke: No, I studied what my father did to get my mother back in the day, so I pulled a lot from their relationship. Their relationship reminded me a lot of Sparkle and Stix relationship.
Shadow & Act: I really liked your role as Diddy in Notorious. In parts of Sparkle, you acted a bit like the Diddy role. However, Stix is ambitious, yet gentle. He is very elegant too.
Derek: Yeah, they were definitely different characters. Stix was very gentle. Well at least for the most part.
Shadow & Act:In ‘Notorious’, Diddy’s goal was money, fame, etc… In this film, what was Stix’s goal? What motivates Stix?
DerekLuke: He simply wanted a relationship with Sparkle, and he had dreams to fulfill.
Shadow & Act: Do you relate personally to Stix?
Derek Luke: I relate Stix to my journey when I was in Jersey and came to LA.
Shadow & Act: Tell us a little about the relationship between Sparkle and Stix.
Derek Luke: I like a line in the film, “ Your mother sure did a number on You.” I think many times in relationships as it escalates to marriage, what it takes to breed a marriage, is the same thing that it takes to breed a career. So in the film, although Stix wants a relationship with Sparkle, he has to understand that she has other challenges that can prevent her from her goals. He learns in the film to see life from her perspective.
Shadow & Act: Speaking of your character’s goals. There is a scene in the film where Satin comes in the dressing room with the sisters, and he ends up getting into a vicious fight with Levi. In the scene, although Levi is your cousin, you do not stand up for him against Satin. Can you explain that scene a little more?
Derek Luke: I actually had an internal dispute about that scene. Mara had written it one way, yet, I wanted to play it another way. I did not really want to play my character being mean. I did not feel that was his nature. I felt that my character was getting downgraded actually.
Shadow & Act: I understand that, because in that scene your characters nature was vastly different than his original deposition. Can you explain this scene a bit more?
Derek Luke: Well, we ended the scene with Salim’s best directives. I wanted to make a Sparkle slash Notebook with the film, but Salim had his version, and we ended it with his version. He wanted my character to be more like Berry Gordy. He wanted to show the complexities of the men in the lives of the women in the film.
Shadow & Act: Did you know Jordin before taking on this role?
Derek Luke: No, but I really bonded well with her with this project. I would definitely hang out with her outside of this film. She is very nice. When we met it was an instant admiration. Well, at least on my part. She’s like my little sister. By better understanding my Mom and Dad’s relationship/courtship (my mother was 17 and my Father was 28), I was able to approach my character’s relationship with Sparkle better. It was like yes, be slick, but don’t be sly. My character had to be gentle with her based on the great age difference.
Shadow & Act: So, tell us a little about the projects that you have coming up?
Derek Luke: ‘Baggage Claim’ with Octavia Spencer and Paula Patton, “Supremacy” with Danny Glover, and then another film with Danny again. Its pretty cool that I can say that I have worked with Danny more than once.