Angela Bassett At 60: “Hard Work Pays Off”

For over three decades, you’ve seen the living icon, actress Angela Bassett, play role after role with impeccable style and grace–not to mention stunning beauty that makes her look half her age. She’s played characters like Rosa Parks, Tina Turner, Betty Shabazz, Michael Jackson’s mother, Katherine Jackson, and most recently played in the blockbuster hits Black Panther and Mission Impossible: Fallout.

Bassett earned nominations for her roles in films such as The Score (2001), Akeelah and the Bee (2006), Meet the Browns (2008) and Jumping the Broom (2011), and won awards for her performances in How Stella Got Her Groove Back (1998) and Music of the Heart (1999), among others. Bassett’s performance as Rosa Parks in the 2002 film The Rosa Parks Story was honored with her first Primetime Emmy Award nomination.

But things didn’t always come easy for Bassett. She comes from very humble beginnings being moved from place to place while ultimately being raised by her single mother.

Ten months after Bassett was born, her mother became pregnant and had a second child, Bassett’s sister D’nette. Bassett said the pregnancy “only made things harder.” Bassett’s parents “shipped” her to stay with her father’s sister Golden. While her aunt did not have any children of her own, she “loved children, and she was good with them.”

After her parents’ separation, she relocated from Winston-Salem, North Carolina to St. Petersburg, Florida, where she and her sister D’nette were raised by their social worker/civil servant mother.

“I had a tiny one-bedroom apartment in a fourth-floor walkup,” Bassett tells Reuters. “I worked at a salon on the East Side of Manhattan, answering the phone and making spa appointments. During my 45-minute lunch break, I would go on auditions. After nine months of that I was feeling a little depressed, but just kept paying the bills and kept auditioning. I knew the salon was just a means to an end.”

“Finally, I got a part, in an ensemble show of vignettes throughout African-American history. I was just an understudy, but I remember I had to go on once as Billie Holiday, singing a cappella. Now that was intimidating.”

“What I tell [my kids] is that you can’t dance to every record. In other words, you can’t be everything to everybody, and get yourself involved in every possible situation. So pick a song you like, and then give it your best. Hard work pays off.”

“I also like the advice, ‘If your outgo exceeds your income, then your upkeep will be your downfall.’ I heard that from a man of the cloth, and I love it. Never live beyond your means.”

Now, the incredible Bassett has been married for over 20 years to her hubby Courtney B. Vance and the couple has…