Behind every great man, is an even greater woman. Isn’t that written somewhere?
Well, if it isn’t, then it’s definitely the case with veteran and beloved actor Samuel L. Jackson’s wife, celebrated actress LaTanya Richardson-Jackson.
After all, she was the reason Samuel L. Jackson got and stayed clean and sober in the first place and supported and helped him in more ways than one. The award-winning actress turns 71 this year and has seen and done it all with style.
Her film credits include “Mother and Child,” “Bolden,” “The Fighting Temptations,” “U.S. Marshalls,” and “Losing Isaiah.”
Television credits include “Harry’s Law,” HBO’s “Introducing Dorothy Dandridge,” “Boston Public,” and the critically acclaimed “100 Center Street.” Her civic activities include: Past trustee of Spelman College; board member at Ebony Repertory Theater, The Urban World Film Festival, and Artists for a New South Africa; advisory board member of The Women’s Center; advisory committee member of Atlanta’s True Colors Theatre Company.
She has received numerous awards for her civic activity from the Atlanta Urban League Guild, the United Negro College Fund, the Broward County Public Library, the National Kidney Foundation, and the Catalog for Giving.
LaTanya was born in Atlanta, Georgia. It was while he was at Morehouse that he met Richardson – who studied at another black university, Spelman College.
The couple went on to have a daughter, Zoe, now 38. “We’ve been trying to be revolutionary ever since,” he laughs.
That’s the underlying reason why she stopped working then. “We met in a revolutionary situation, and we get involved in revolutionary situations all the time.”
According to their interview with The Guardian, they both speak not of white culture but of “the dominant culture”, and navigating that as black people.
Have the couple ever felt like they’ve had to choose between fully being themselves and the wants of the fickle showbiz world, an industry he entered relatively late (his big break, in Pulp Fiction, came at age 45)? “No,” Jackson says authoritatively. “We don’t compromise who we are to do the things we do.
It’s imperative that we be who we are. It’s not like we’ve never heard: ‘You’ll never work in this town again.’”
Richardson laughs. “Well you have – I haven’t!” she says, compared with Jackson.
“I was maybe 15, in high school. I had a great mentor/teacher, Georgia Allen, who took a few of us to Spelman College, to be a part of children’s theater.
I did theater at Spelman until I graduated from there, and I got to work with such luminous actresses as Diana Sands in ‘Macbeth.’”
“Atlanta was a welcoming presence for a lot of artists.; They called it ‘the Mecca of the South.’ I got to see the Negro Ensemble Company, Cicely Tyson, Geraldine Page, Ruby Dee, all onstage. With cinema, all of us watched Bette Davis. It’s horrible to say, but she’s why I started smoking!”
“And then Diahann Carroll on TV [who starred in the 1968 series “Julia”] made everything seem possible. I never thought it impossible to be an actor.
I was a Southern colored girl, and part of the Black Power movement. I was always