Wendy Raquel Robinson
Actress Wendy Raquel Robinson of The Steve Harvey Show is back in a new TV show The Game about the women who impact professional football. One of the most underrated women in show business talks about many topics relating to the show, leaving behind The Steve Harvey Show, and her work with kids through the Amazing Grace Conservatory.
Listen to the Wendy Raquel Robinson CYInterview:
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Chris Yandek: First off how are you?
Wendy Robinson: “I am great. I am great. I am great. How are you?”
CY: I am doing great. You play the manager of Malik Wright, but besides being his manager you are also his mother. What did you think about the role of this mother who also looks out for her football star son and keeps him in line as far as everything he does personally and professionally?
WR: “I was so attracted to the character because number one, she says what she means and she means what she says, so there is no confusion. I think she is such a strong character, not only being a single parent and having to raise a son who went on to do amazing things and become a star quarterback. She’s funny, she’s witty, she’s smart, she understands the game, she understands the rules of the game, and sometimes it gets blurry between she and her son because they are so close and it can become a little suffocating. I was attracted to the comedy, conflict, and all of the areas that can be explored with this character. I thought it was wonderful.”
CY: Do you think it is hard for your motherly character to separate being a mom and being a manager for her football star son?
WR: “Yes, and especially when a romantic interest becomes involved, and that happens to be the coach. When those lines get blurred, yes it becomes extremely difficult to be the mom but be the manager and still have his best interests at mind. It gets a little blurry, but that’s where the comedy comes in. It’s quite funny.”
CY: What we have seen from the first few episodes you are sort of a mother figure to Melanie whose played by Tia Mowry who has a boyfriend whose a rookie in the league and you kind of explain to her how everything works. What’s it been like working with Tia and do you enjoy the roles of guiding others while on screen?
WR: “Tia is a doll. She’s an open vessel, she’s humble, she’s been in the business for a long time. Her comedy is great. Her acting is great, so she has great instincts. I don’t necessarily see myself as a motherly figure to her because there are instances in some of the episodes where I am getting advice from her. She’s a smart girl. She’s not as affected in the world of athletes as I am, the world is not as saturated. I like playing authoritative roles, but at the same time roles that show some vulnerability. I think you will see that with Tasha’s character as the weeks go on. I project this strong woman and I got it altogether, but deep down inside there is this little girl in there who’s dying to befriend Tia, but at the same time fall in love and get a life.”
CY: Did you do any research about sports athletes’ moms or managers in general to get an idea of how to be?
WR: “What’s interesting is that I know Malcolm Jamal Warner’s mom who is also his manager, as well as Trip Fields, who is the mom and she was the manager of Kim Fields. I know them personally. Just watching them and seeing the interaction because they are so close in age to their children. They have I don’t want to say an overprotectiveness, but because that is your child and also your client you want to preserve the best interest possible. I spoke with them and my best friend actually has a son in the rap field and she is managing him, just seeing how they interact and things like that. In terms of football? No. In terms of a mom and a son and a manager type of position? Yup. I have done that research. It’s quite interesting.”
CY: The football players’ wives, girlfriends, and you the mom have a group that does their best to keep their men in line and you are one of the leaders of it. Do you think people are seeing the other side of professional football from the women that are part of the league?
WR: “I would hope to think so because it’s not a very easy thing. You are dealing with these men with their enormous egos, enormous accounts, and things like that. There has to be a sense of reality for them, so when they come home, it’s not just all about you and your touchdowns and your endorsements. It’s about what’s been going on with the family and obligations and things like that. I think it’s a very interesting perspective that is played.”
CY: Is your character like you in any way?
WR: “She’s that side of me that at a restaurant I would love for her to come out if my food is not right or something like that and I can just speak about it. She’s the aggressive side of the passive aggressive in me if that makes any sense.”
CY: The show has been picked up for a full season. What do you think can we expect from your character the rest of the season?
WR: “I think unpredictability the way that it’s been going. She’s all over the place even though it appears that she has it going on. I think we’ll see the vulnerable side of her. I think we will see the smarts of her in terms of the managerial and the conflict of other managers trying to get with my son. The possibilities of her not being as in control as she thought she was. I think we will really see the world of our characters, especially mine, the home life and me being too overbearing as a mother crossing that line as a manager. I think the rules will be set this season.”
CY: Was football part of the family growing up or have you ever been any kind of sports fan before the show?
WR: “I was the cheerleader. I was the funny cheerleader who would be like why are we cheering now? What just happened? It was first and ten. I had to learn the game of football really quick throughout junior high and high school. Later on when I was in college, the football games were the big thing in schools. I was more of a fan of football. Not really a follower of the game. I have always been a huge fan, the adrenaline, being in the stadium, the environment, and everything. I always loved that football world growing up. This is interesting to be on this side of it. I am on a different side of it. I am not caught up in the hype. I am really caught up in the reality of what’s going once they get off of that field, the excitement dies down.”
CY: Most of the American public I think knows you from your role as Principal Regina Grier on The Steve Harvey Show. Is it hard to start all over on a new TV show like The Game after all the successful years on the Steve Harvey Show?
WR: “You know, it’s exciting, it’s scary. I am so excited that we got the full season, so it’s like wow ok they liked us. It’s a new network, new producers, new writers. It’s like starting from scratch. I feel like I am a freshman all over again. I am getting to know new writers and they are getting to know me. It’s insightful, it’s humbling. I feel like it’s ground one. I am back to zero in a whole new environment with unlimited possibilities.”
CY: Was it hard to leave a show and friends behind at The Steve Harvey Show when it ended?
WR: “You become beyond friends. It becomes family. It was very emotional. Stan Lathan directed every single episode. We did over 120 episodes. From the hierarchy all the way down to the actors, you’re family. You keep in touch. We do keep in touch, but it’s not the same as seeing everybody everyday and what’s going on in your life and what’s going on in my life and things like that. It’s very emotional. I don’t want to say it’s like a divorce because we are all coming out on top, but at the same time there is a sad separation that happens in watching the old episodes and things like that. It brings some wonderful memories. It was a great time in my life.”
CY: You had a supporting role in the great romantic comedy this year Something New playing alongside Sanaa Lathan. What was it like to be part of such a unique movie that showed people what we think we are looking for really isn’t what we end up with?
WR: “That movie I think was so wonderful and I felt that it was a sleeper hit. People enjoyed it, but they didn’t know it until oh my God have you seen the movie and then the movie was gone. It was wonderful. There were so many women that played a part of it between the writers, the producer, the director, and the lead. I don’t think it was just about color with Something New, I think it was stepping outside of your box whether it’s dealing with your sexuality or whether it’s dealing with religion or whether it’s dealing with race, but it’s trying something new and just not living inside a box with your parameters and who you will date and won’t date. It was a wonderful movie. I am really proud to have been part of that movie.”
CY: You have given so much to kids and the community with the Amazing Grace Conservatory that helps give young children acting experience. Tell me about exactly what you do.
WR: “I am the co founder and executive director for Amazing Grace Conservatory. It’s our tenth year of not only being in production but existence. We are a performing arts school for ages 7 to 21. We offer acting, voice, and dance for youth and young adults who are not only interested in artists, but just becoming better human beings, have greater communication skills and things like that. We are a year round program. We have a 12 week fall semester that we are in right now and then a spring and summer program. We are seeing some great success stories, some young people that are going to Yale, Tish, and Julliard, some doing off Broadway, some even working with me actually on The Game and other things that I have done. It’s a full circleness of I don’t want to say just giving back, but it’s more of an exchange because they give me so much and keep me grounded in this business as well.”
CY: Finally, what else is coming up for you and if we haven’t seen The Game why should we watch The Game?
WR: “You should watch The Game because it is the best thing on television. I think The Game has something for everybody. It has a little something for the women, something for the men. It’s integrated very well with comedy, a little drama, and a little conflict. Mara Brock Akil is an amazing executive producer because she really pushes the envelope in terms of a little risque, some things the censors come back and say we can’t say that. We gotta find something a little more clever, but she still pushes that envelope. I think in terms of cutting edge humor and a class act comedy, that’s why you should watch the game. Actually, I have a reoccurring on Family Guy, which is cute. I did a little voice over, it hasn’t aired yet, but I play Cleveland’s new girlfriend Bernice and I love that show. Listen to me for that one.”
You can find more information about the show and find your station it airs on at http://www.cwtv.com/shows/the-game.
You can find more information about Wendy Raquel Robinson’s Amazing Grace Conservatory at http://www.amazinggraceconservatory.com or by calling 323-732-4283.