Laurence Fishburne - Becoming Nelson Mandela in "Madiba"

January 26, 2017 - Laurence Fishburne 01/26/2017 Views: 47,210

Laurence Fishburne explains why the show "Black-ish" transcends race and describes what it was like to portray Nelson Mandela in the BET miniseries "Madiba." (7:50)

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Please welcomeLaurence Fishburne.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

Welcome, welcome, welcome,welcome, welcome, welcome...

-Thank you, thank you.-welcome, welcome.

-Thank you.-Welcome, welcome, welcome,

-Thank you, Trevor.-welcome, welcome.

Thank you, thank you.

Laurence Fishburne. Wow.

Okay. Okay.

If ever there was a time

for you to tell usthis is not the real world...

we're ready.

Give us the red pill

and get us the (bleep)out of here.

-We're ready.-(cheering, applause)

Welcome to the show.

-Thank you so much, Trevor.-Thank you so much.

I have been a huge fan of yoursas long as I can remember.

And I have been a huge fan ofyours since you appeared, sir.

-Thank you so much, thank you.I like that. -Yes. Yes.

Since I appeared.Thank you. I, uh...

Let's-let's get straight intoit. I mean, you are doing

and have been doing so much.Before we talk about the film,

I just wanted tocongratulate you on Black-ish.

-The show has been amazing.-Thank you.

-(cheering, applause) -Thankyou. -Everybody is loving it,

the cast has been doinga great job.

I mean, everyone has their ideason why the show is successful.

-Sure. -Why do you think Black-ish connects

-with the audience that it does?-With the audience

-and everyone.-Yeah, with everyone.

Because it... it is

based in a certain reality.

It's the reality that, you know,

black Americanshave been living with

for better than 50 years.

We have been having theseconversations amongst ourselves

-privately at home for 50 years,let's say, at least. -Yeah.

And-and... and the last 30years,

I think African-American culturehas been so much...

so much of it has been embracedinto the larger culture

that everybody sort of...It's part of the larger culture

in a much more deeper way now,

so that we canhave this conversation

and everybody knowswhat we're talking about, um,

because, at the end of the day,

we're all human.

So we're talking about problemsthat are really human problems

-from a-a particularperspective. -Yes.

And when you can makeyour culture...

take your pac...specific culture

and-and make it universal,

then everybody can enjoy it.

-It's-it's...-(cheering and applause)

it's so interesting to me how,

I guess,America has gotten to a place

where everyone is so on edge

that they feel the needto attack when there is no need.

You know, when Black-ish was first announced,

when it was rising up, peoplewere like, "Oh, Black-ish,

what is that? Whatis that black show? What..."

-(baffled sounds) -You know?I-I saw someone on Twitter

who tweeted, he said, uh,"I can't believe ABC has a show

"called Black-ish. Imagine if they made a show

-called White-ish. That would beracism!" -Yeah, yeah.

And then that person went onto become president. Um...

-Right.-But-but the-the truth is,

the essence of the show isit is human stories, connect...

-It's a family.-Yes. It's a family.

Generationally. So you havelots of different perspectives.

-Yeah. -I-I think you guys havedone a-a great job with that.

And, uh, I'm-I'm amazed to seethat you have the time

to do other things.Because, uh, you know,

-going down to South Africaand filming a movie -Yeah, yeah.

-as Nelson Mandela, was-was that-Life-changing.

-a special experience for you?-Life-changing experience.

First of all,to be asked to play

a personage like Mandela,

-as an actor, it doesn't happento you very often. -Yeah.

I mean, there are few peoplein history,

like, you know, Jesus,

Gandhi, you know, MLK,

a couple of Shakespearean kingsand queens that we know about,

you know, gods.

Um, but to be asked to play himwas a-a true honor

and-and a...you know, a responsibility.

-You know? -What-what I enjoyedabout the-the episode

-that I watched is...You know, it's a miniseries -Mm.

-over three nights on BET.-Right.

What I enjoyed was it wasmaybe one of the first times

I've seen Mandela's story told

-from the perspectiveof the collective. -Yes. Yes.

It's not just one man. Mandela,a lot of people don't realize,

-is a symbol.Like Martin Luther King, -Sure.

-he's the figurehead butof a movement. -Yes, exactly.

And, like, when-whenyou're telling that story,

how did...how did you come across

-and how did you discover that?-Well, we-we had got

a directive.Our producer Lance Samuels,

who's a South African,

-went to Madibato get his blessing. -Wow.

And the first thingMadiba said... He was like,

"Oh, Mr. Mandela, we want yourpermission to tell your story.

Da-da-da-da." And Madibalooked at him and said,

"What's in it for me?"

And then he was like,"Just remember to make sure

"that when you tell the story,make sure the audience

understands that it wasn't justme-- it was the collective."

-So it was Kathrada,it was Tambo, -Yes.

it was Sisulu, Ruth First,Joe Slovo,

Mbeki, Sobukwe,

the ANC, the PAC,

-the international community.-Yes.

-You know, all of it.-I-I remember

the first time someone hearingabout the story,

and they were shocked.They were like, "Wait,

white people went to jailwith Mandela?"

-And you're like, "Yeah. Yeah."-Yeah. Yeah.

There were many peoplefighting together.

Over 100, uh, co-conspirators

-were on trial for four years,-Yes.

every day for four years,in Pretoria.

-Every day. For four years.-When-when you... when you look

-at what's happeningin America now -Oh, God, yes.

and you look at...you look at all the movements,

you look at what peopleare trying to start

-from the ground up.-Sure.

I guess I have my experiencesas a South African,

-but I only really have those.-Mm-hmm.

You are someone who hasnow delved into the world

-of a South African resistance-Mm-hmm, mm-hmm.

-and now seeing Americans tryingto do the same thing, -Yes.

is there any connection that youcould draw between the two?

There is a huge connectionthat goes back

to the Civil Rights Movement.Because you have to remember

that the apartheid movementwas happening

-while the Civil Rights Movementwas happening here, -Mm-hmm.

while the Berlin Wall movementthing,

the whole thingin East Germany was happening.

So all of these thingsare interrelated.

-The world was still very mucha small place then. -Yes.

And our behaviors all over theworld, we took things from them,

-they took things from us.-Yeah.

We learned things from them,they learned things from us.

And right now, you know,with this piece, Madiba,

we can learn...It's-it's a refresher course

in what, I think,we need to do as a country

in order to come together.

We-we don't need to spendany more time worrying

about what 45 is doing

or what 45 and-andhis administration is doing.

Oh, that's hilar...You don't call him by his name?

45.

-(cheering and applause)-Wow.

That's-that's great. 45.

44 was my man!

-We loved 44.-Can I tell you what's crazy?

This is a weird thing--and I don't have the time

to explain it--but, in South Africa,

"four-five" is slangfor "a penis."

-(laughter) -But carry on.That's just... -Say no more.

-that's just... But carry on.Yeah. Yes. -Ace, ace. Anyway,

so what we needto learn how to do,

we need a refresher course

-in how to come togethercollectively, -Yes.

how to strategize collectively,

how to relate to each otheras human beings.

Because...we have elders, right?

-Yes. -So the-the whole conceptof leadership

from Nelson's perspective, fromthe Africans' perspective is

-you have leaders,you have elders, -Yes.

and they give you instruction,encouragement.

Um, we have those here.

The obvious ones arethe Clintons and the Obamas.

They're the obvious one.But there are others

who are out here in Americadoing the work

of organizing and strategizingand bringing us all together.

And that's what I thinkthis film will be...

We-We'll be of servicein reminding people

that that's really what we needto focus on

and concentrate if we wantto have effective change.

'Cause paying attention to 45

is not gonna makeeffective change.

-I hear you there, man.-(cheering and applause)

I could not appreciate your timemore.

Thank you so muchfor what you've done.

Madiba, the three-part storyof Nelson Mandela,

starts Wednesday,February 1, on BET.

Laurence Fishburne, everybody!