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The Penny Johnson Jerald Interview

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Interview with Lady Mac

On March 19, 2002, I spoke on the phone with Penny Johnson Jerald from Sars's apartment. She had just finished shooting "8:00 PM -- 9:00 PM." After our interview, Penny's agent made a point of calling me that very evening to pass on the news that Penny was raving about how polite and respectful I was. Now "polite and respectful" are adjectives that rarely describe me. I was thrilled to hear that Penny liked me, but I have to wonder, who the hell would be rude to Penny Johnson Jerald? She runs a Christian theater company, for crying out loud! She plays Lady MacPalmer on TV! Even I don't fuck with people like that. And no, I didn't have the guts to ask her about GLOW.

Gustave: Are the Palmers Democrats or Republicans? [The episode where Palmer reveals he's a Democrat had not been aired at the time of this interview.]

Penny Johnson Jerald: [Laughs.]

[Laughs.] I guess that's a bit of a loaded question.

He better be a Democrat. [Laughs.] It's high time we had a Democratic African-American in the White House.

But then it's been said that if an African-American ever makes it to the White House, he'd have to be a Republican.

We're gonna turn that. [Laughs.]

Well, wasn't Clinton our first black president?

Oh yeah. He was a light-skinned brother. I enjoyed Clinton's presidency.

And he's a bit like Palmer in that, unlike Bush, he wasn't part of a powerful established family, so he had to make some unholy alliances with people like [Kreepy Karl] in order to level the playing field.

Exactly. We weren't born into this. We're not insiders, so we had to work hard for twenty-five years to make it happen. All of that is important to Sherry. It's the fuel behind her fight.

How did you find out about this part?

Well, in the entertainment business, you go through your agent, your agent submits you and then you go and interview. Oftentimes when an actor reaches a certain caliber, a part is offered to you. During the pilot season, which is when this interview took place, it was just an idea that Joel Surnow had. [Laughs.] He interviewed people and actually I didn't take it very seriously. I mean, I take all of my auditions seriously but I didn't take it as a heavy hitter.

That's what Karina said. She said she was told about the audition at eleven and she had to be there by two, and she was like, "Okay, whatever."

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