Wednesday, May 5, 2010

First Time Out, Burning Up Red Carpet Just So

Gina Taylor Pickens and friend; Fabrizio (middle photo), and Debra Martin Chase (bottom) last night at the world premiere of "Just Wright" at the Ziegfeld Theater. Photos by Elisabeth Trydal Andersen.

I see her just as I turn facing the street to see who’s coming up behind the press corps. A handsome, unassuming woman wearing a gold African print maxi dress, a hue darker than her skin. Her hair … her hair is a brilliant silver and styled in twists that extend to near the middle of her back. A few others around me notice her, too, and behold. It’s the hair and how it contrasts with skin and dress. She walks directly behind us over to the front entrance of the Ziegfeld Theater. She is on our left flank, staring straight ahead. I’m looking over at her, discreetly I hope. Yours Truly has to say something, and off I go.

I introduce myself and get right down to business. “I love your hair.”

“Thank you, she says.”

I cannot take my eyes off these beautiful silver locks that are sparkling like diamonds. “You didn’t color your hair, did you?

“No. I turned grey in my 20s.”

Folks, if you want to grey, this is the way to do it.

Her name is Gina Taylor Pickens. She is my first interview in my debut as a red-carpet journalist. She is also the wife of James Pickens, Jr., whom I discover that I do not know by name because I neglect to watch Grey’s Anatomy. But I do know him by face because I do not neglect to watch “Grey’s Anatomy” promos. Anywho, the occasion is the world premiere of the romantic comedy, “Just Wright, starring Queen Latifah, Common et al., including JP,Jr.

GTP is waiting patiently and contentedly for Himself to wrap red-carpet interviews before they vanish inside to see the fruit of his labor. Is “Just Wright” his largest role or one of the largest? She doesn’t have a clue. “You know he’s done a lot of stuff; he’s been in the business a long time,” she explains. "I will say – again I am not sure because he never discusses his business. That’s why we have such a successful marriage ... I get to experience his work as everyone else does.”

In other words, she lets him do his thing and the man she said she wishes she could clone returns the favor. GTP is retired – from what, this Cleveland girl opts not to disclose, but it’s not in the arts. However, she works hard in her church. She also travels and cooks. Cooks? Cooks what? “Everything.”

And when I give her to know in answer to her question that I eat just about everything, as long as it’s good, whole food, she gives me to know that she “sometimes” cooks thusly. “If it’s a holiday I have to go straight soul food.”

I assert that soul food can be good, whole food. She doesn’t argue the point, and our conversation turns to travel. She and JP,Jr. are straight out of Greater L.A. for the next two weeks, including a few more days in Gotham where he will take care of “Just Wright" business. The former New Yorker has her agenda, too. “I’m gonna hook up with some dear friends I haven’t seen,” she said, including, I discover when I return to ask GTP another question, Jennifer X, a woman from my gym and Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week with whom I’m friendly. If the world gets any smaller, somebody is gonna have to move.

But I digress, GTP also plans to put on some walking shoes and “experience New York. Go to the museum. I want to see the King Tut exhibit … and just, you know, and just have a thrilling experience here ... I love coming to New York.”

And New York loves having you, GTP as it does Fabrizio who without doubt is rockin’ one of the largest ’fros on the planet. “Nobody likes to sit behind me because of my hair,” says the F-man who does a lot of cameo work in “Just Wright” alone the lines of “ah!”

Meanwhile, when I learned that Debra Martin Chase is a producer of “Just Wright,” I was certain that I would probably like it. I wasn’t wrong, but more on that closer to its national release on 14 May. Along with Phylicia Rashad see (“Clair Huxtable Is a Shadow of Her Former Self” below), DMC is the person I most want to jaw with. I’ve been fascinated by this brilliant sister since I “met” her on TV in the middle of one night in 2008 when I would have rather been sleeping.

There she was on BET, explaining how she went from Harvard to Hollywood. As a producer, she's behind "The Pelican Brief," "The Preacher's Wife," as well as franchises, including "The Princess Diaries," "The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants," and "The Cheetah Girls," etc.

Fast forward a year and some, and she is imparting to me sound, succinct advice around my own Hollywood aspirations. She also discusses how she became involved in “Just Wright.” “Well, I tell you, this is seven years ago,” she explains, Seven. “Queen Latifah came to me - and ideally the writers - and she wanted to do a romance set against the backdrop of the NBA. So we developed the script and here we are on the red carpet.”

That’s show business, folks!

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VEVLYN'S PEN: The Wright take on life by Vevlyn Wright is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License .
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