Blair Underwood - Highlighting Diversity in "Quantico" and Throughout History

February 2, 2017 - Blair Underwood 02/02/2017 Views: 19,670

Blair Underwood talks about playing a spy on the show "Quantico" and discusses the African-American athletes featured in the documentary "Olympic Pride, American Prejudice." (4:41)

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Please welcome Blair Underwood.

-♪ -(cheering, applause)

-Welcome. Welcome.-Thank you.

Can you believe that?"That Negro's dangerous!"

He's a Black Panther!

That is one of the of the craziest clips

I have ever seen,'cause, I mean, you-you know

these stories, but you, uh,

-when you see it again,it comes back to life. -Yeah.

Before we talk aboutthe documentary, uh,

let's talk a little bitabout Quantico.

-You're playing, uh,a member of the CIA. -Right.

You know, it's-it's like...Have you-have you

always wanted to be a spy?Is that something

you've always, like,you know, aspired to be?

-That I always aspired to be?-Yeah.

Um, n... not so much a spy.I mean, I always say, you know,

as actors, we kind of...kind of lie for a living,

and I guess when you're a spyyou kind of live a life

where you have to...You know, it's covert

and you got to bekind of undercover

and-and sometimes speakthe truth and oftentimes not.

What's dope about Quantico for me is it's almost like

a little United Nationsof people.

-You've got Priyanka Chopra,who's a super megastar -Yeah.

-from India. Uh, you've even gota South African actress, -Yeah.

-Pearl Thusi, in it as well.Like, you guys... -(clapping)

-Do you guys just sit... do yousit around... -There was a...

-There's one South African."Yay!" -"Yeah!"

Do you... do you guys, like,sometimes just sit around

and just, like,have world discussions

-about what you should be doing?-We actually do, man,

-especially after this whole...this-this ban, you know, -Yeah?

uh, in terms of justwhat does that do to green cards

and people coming and going. Butit is. It's like a Benetton ad.

I mean, you know,we got Aarón... Aarón Díaz,

also from Mexico.And-and England and all kinds.

That-that would be weird,if, like, on a show,

when they go, uh,"This character will no longer

be played because theycan't come into the country."

-They couldn't get on a plane.-Like, that-that would be

a weird plot thing, like-like,a plot move to be like,

"Where are they?" "They couldn'tget into the country

for the scene. They couldn'tcome back into the..."

Yeah, I mean,I mean, that-that's a...

that's a scary worldto be living in, uh, you know?

And, I mean, you know,the lawyers are handling it.

-And, again, it is strange.But you were in... -Yeah.

you were in L.A. Law. During the time that you were...

you were doing researchfor your character,

you were trying to finda black Harvard law associate,

-you know, someone whocould teach you the game, -Yeah.

and you met a manwho-who was at Harvard,

who was, like... you know, hecould teach you what it's like

to be a lawyer,and that man was Barack Obama.

-Yeah. Yeah, that's right.-At the time, did you get any...

Was there, like,a smell of president on him?

It-it must have beenthe hair gel.

I was thinking, "That-thatsmells very presidential

-on you." -Yeah? But...No, but, for real though, like,

when you... when you met BarackObama for the first time--

I mean, this is a circumstancewhere you-you don't know--

but was there anythingabout him, uh, you know?

Even if there w... But, I mean,was there anything about him

-where you went, "This guy'sspecial"? -Yeah, he was...

he was very impressive.And he really was the-the...

My character on L.A. Law was the first president

-of the Harvard Law Review, as, of course, Obama was. -Yes.

So when we went there, the-thewriters were invited to go there

and myself, 'causeof my character's backstory,

and everybody kept saying,"You got to meet this guy."

I mean,he really is the-the editor

of the-the Harvard Law Review, which is very prestigious.

Um, and when I met him,I, you know...

Because everybody gave himso many props-- deservedly so--

um, he was...he was impressive. But quiet.

Did he still have that thing?"Uh, well, uh, how you doin'?"

Or did that come fromwhen he was...

I always wonder if he pickedthat up. "What's goin' on?

Uh, what's happening?"Um, let's-let's talk

about the-the documentary.The 1936 Olympics,

everyone knows the storyof America beating the Germans.

-A lot of people don't realizethat, at the same time, -Yeah.

black athletes were at oddswith America.

That's exactly right.Now, we-we often know

about Jesse Owens, who wasthe-the one black athlete

we know about who wonfour gold medals, of course,

but there were17 other black athletes

that history has forgottenabout.

And this is a documentarythat tells their story.

It's their story.But you're right,

they were kind of stuckin the middle,

'cause we were dealingwith Jim Crow

and racism here in America,

but yet you representyour country

in Nazi Germany in 1936.

But... No, it's beenan incredible journey.

I narrated the film.I have to give props and love

to Deborah Riley Draper,who wrote it and directed it

-and produced it. This is...this was her baby. -Yeah.

And she was nice enoughto come to me to, uh...

and ask me to-to narrate it,uh, which I did very...

very, uh... It's been an honor.But I have to tell you,

Jesse Owens, even Jesseand these 17 athletes in 1936

were not invitedto FDR's White House.

I think Jesse Owens came laterin the '70s,

but these other athleteswere never invited.

-That is so insane.-Last year, Obama,

President Obama, whenall the Olympians from Rio came,

he invited-- now, of course,all of these athletes

have passed away--but family members

and posthumously acknowledgedthem. That was incredible.

-It was very emotional,very special. -Wow.

-(cheering and applause)-Yeah. -Wow.

It's a... it's-it's an amazingstory that needs to be told.

And, you know, storieslike that, like Hidden Figures

-right now,there's so many stories -Yeah.

in-in everybody's culture, butI speak to my... to my culture,

our culture, that-that have beenforgotten and not told.

-So it's-it's an exciting time.-Well, luckily,

there are people like youwho are willing to tell them.

I appreciate that. Thank you somuch for being here on the show.

Quantico airs Mondaysat 10:00 p.m. Eastern,

9:00 p.m. Central on ABC.Blair Underwood, everybody!