pictured from l to r: Dance choreographer Paul Becker, actress Sharon Leal and Ray Cornelius

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Last week RC  had the privilege of attending the ground breaking events commemorating the opening of National Center for Civil and Human Rights in Atlanta, GA. During that time I had an opportunity to catch up with actress Sharon Leal who participated in the reading of the monologue ‘Speak Truth to Power’ along with fellow actors Malcolm Jamal Warner and Lynn Whitfield.

Leal, who had just completed the suspense-thriller, “The Last Letter” with Omari Hardwick and Lynn Whitfield, was very eager to talk with me about everything from her participation in the Center’s opening to her favorite spots in the ATL.  Check it out…

RC:  Why was it so important for you to participate in the groundbreaking of the National Center for Civil and Human Rights?

SL:  I was really honored that I even got the phone call to come. The fact that there is one place where on a daily basis people can go to learn and educate themselves about all kinds of platforms and issues, particularly with human rights, is incredible. So when I got an email asking me to join it was a no brainer. These are things that you’re just so proud to be a part of because it is history in the making and its positive and it’s so important that we have something like this for our children and for everyone to go see.

RC: You participated in the production of the monologue, Speak Truth to Power, where you read a few human rights’ stories.  Was there one story or person that really stood out in your mind?

SL:  I can’t just think of one person. It really is that collective sentiment of standing up and being heard. So it’s the power of that and that message. Once this whole piece is done, that is what I appreciate the most.

RC: You just completed the film, The Last Letter, with the legendary Lynn Whitfield.  What was it like working with her?

SL:  Amazing!  She is a huge icon for me. I love Lynn Whitfield. She’s an amazing woman and so it’s wonderful when you get to do events like this that bring together like minded people. I love Lynn and I hope to do something again with her soon.

RC: You’re here in Atlanta quite a bit filming movies and so forth.  In your down time, what is one of your favorite spots or places to go?

SL:  Well, let’s see? Is it Six Points or Five Points? [LOL]  It’s Five Points? I love that little area because I like vintage shopping. You guys have a great mall here obviously [Lenox Mall]. But I come here a lot in search of shrimp and grits…it’s my favorite dish.

RC: What are your thoughts on how Black women are being viewed on reality TV shows and the recent boycott of such programs as Love and Hip Hop Atlanta?  

SL:  That’s a tricky one. I’d be lying if I said that I don’t sometimes–late night–have a couple of these shows on my DVR and that I am somehow not entertained at times. But I do think you are treading in a very difficult place when these are the only images of predominately black females and all their doing is fighting and throwing tables and drinks. That’s not the best representation, so it’s a hard one. I would feel like a hypocrite if I said to take them off the air because I understand why people watch them. But I do think you have to be careful and be mindful that that is not the only representation of who we are.

Make sure to check Sharon Leal out in the new Fox drama, Guilty, opposite Cuba Gooding Jr. during this next season.

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