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Of course, Bassett is no stranger to the ritual of getting dressed. The actress has nabbed numerous nominations and awards for films like What’s Love Got to Do With It and The Rosa Parks Story, both of which reflect a notable career of playing strong, tenacious women. (To wit: her unyielding performances in Waiting to Exhale and How Stella Got Her Groove Back.)
The Hollywood legend was photographed at VIOLET GREY with her team. There was discussion of the ritual of getting dressed (for both the red carpet and her varied film roles), her skin secrets, and more, below.
ANGELA BASSETT: For me, it’s vitally important. Once you see that come to life you can see the character slowly emerge. It allows you to go deeper, to discover her perspective and her idiosyncrasies. I look in the mirror to see how she moves, how she feels, how she speaks; then the moment happens when it’s like ‘Hello, I’m here.’
A.B.: My first question is always ‘Is my team available?’ I wish I could do all of this, but everyone has their gifts. Then I just sit there with my eyes closed. If I open them it’s only because I’m trying to get a few tips for myself!
A.B.: I do. I just let them do what they do because they marry the look to the moment. It’s like a dance: We’re all doing it, and every person has their part. Everything has to meet and become one voice.
A.B.: One thing that I’ve learned is don’t bring your false lashes all the way to the end of your eyes because it will bring your eyes down.
A.B.: I try to watch my diet so I can fit into whatever I am wearing. Cut the sugar, the alcohol and the bread, and eat a lot of protein and veggies.
A.B.: A friend or a sister. I mean, the husband is always great, but there is something about a girlfriend...
A.B.: Cate Blanchett, Penélope Cruz, and, of course, Lupita [Nyong’o].
A.B.: When I’m in New York I see my friend Mamie McDonald at Skin by Mamie. She understands skin. She makes it glow.
A.B.: Well, it only takes me about 10 minutes! I start thinking about it in the car on the way home. Do I want to be flirty? Sensual? Powerful? Then I try to dress for that feeling. My husband [actor Courtney B. Vance] always says ‘Lord, you’ve made something out of nothing, how did you do that?’
A.B.: Recently we had the wrap party for Whitney [the biopic Bassett directed], and it was real simple: foundation, mascara, a red lip, and you’re done. I’m not very good with eye shadow, but I’ve got foundation down.
A.B.: Nars Red Lizard.
A.B.: I use GrandeLash in the morning and Dr. Lancer’s lash serum at night; they’ve really helped my lashes grow. I had individual lashes put on last year, and when you take them off you feel like you have snaggle lash.
A.B.: A passionate woman who knows what she loves and has been blessed to be able to do it…and continue to do it!
A.B.: Love…and sugar.
A.B.: When I’m told I can’t do something. When I’m told I’m not good enough, that I can’t have something, can’t go somewhere, especially because of the color of my skin.
A.B.: Not with everything, but that’s when you stick out your chest and you gather your strength. I was raised by my mother, and she taught me how! You can’t be in this industry if you’re afraid of a little rejection.
A.B.: It’s the same with everything: You have to study your craft. Actresses make it look easy because that’s the way it should look—effortless. When a great actor does their job they’re leaving a piece of their soul in the room. It takes a little out of you, but that’s okay. Life will take a little out of you, love will take a little out of you. We’re talking about demonstrating the best and worst of the human experience.
in this industry
AFRAID of a little rejection.
VIOLET GREY has a file on everything from
the genius of Pat McGrath to
the best eyelash curler in the world.