Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Great Ruby Dee: A True Mother Sister

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Here's my tribute to the great Ruby Dee -- the actress who pierced you every time you watched her in a dramatic role -- like Mother Sister in Do The Right Thing, Ruth Younger in A Raisin in the Sun, and Lucinda Purify in Jungle Fever. I posted the article below back when she was nominated for an Oscar Award in 2008 for her role as the mother of drug lord, Frank Lucas (played by Denzel Washington). 

Rest easy, Ms. Dee. You worked hard during your illustrious career as an actress and you fought hard as a civil rights activist for all of us. We love and appreciate you!
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Originally Posted February 23, 2008

I will be highly disappointed if this woman right here doesn't win the Oscar for her role in the film American Gangster. Ruby Dee is nominated in the Best Supporting Actress category along with Cate Blanchett, Saoirse Ronan, Amy Ryan, and Tilda Swinson.
Dee is one of America's finest actors and has paved the way for many of our country's African American artists. The level of excellence that she and her husband Ossie Davis gave to some of Spike Lee's films is phenomenal.

I respect her not only for her great acting abilities, but also for her work as an activist, and her great teaching talents. She taught me and I will never forget the lessons I learned from her.

Check out what I wrote about Ms. Dee in my personal essay titled "Listening to Nina Simone," which first appeared in The Writers Loft magazine called The Trunk:

I took a solo performance class with Ruby Dee at Hunter College in New York City. From her I learned to always have a purpose when performing or creating any type of artistic project. Ms. Dee screamed at me when I was rehearsing a piece for an upcoming show. “Speak the words!” she said. She was telling me to give it all I had. I’ve been trying to do that ever since. And I’ve got nothin’ but love for her husband, the late Ossie Davis, who would lovingly fill in for his wife and teach her class when she had other engagements. His advice about performing and the arts was always as solid as hers.

Also, read a Variety magazine article about Dee here.

Here are two interesting answers that Dee gave to the reporter:

What's your favorite film? A Raisin in the Sun
(This is, of course, one of the film's that Dee herself helped to make golden.)

What do you want in a director? "I'm an actor who appreciates direction. I respect the fact that a director has studied the text and the road map of work before us, the subtleties, interconnections, underpinnings. ... His job is to paint the entire picture and knows all the colors that have to be in it."

Here's this master actress playing one of the best roles she had during her glorious career. She plays the mother of Gator, a strung out crack addict, in Jungle Fever. As always, when she and her husband Ossie worked together, it was always a joy to behold.


4 comments:

Anonymous said...

This lady should have won an award for that believable performance. That was a mother's whale for her child. I felt every bit of it. Thank you Miss RUBY for sharing your talents with us, enjoy your eternal life with Mr. OSSIE and our FATHER,

MaDear

Alicia Benjamin said...

Amen and Amen!

Alicia

Anonymous said...

my sistah,

ruby dee and maya angelou were two of the greatest not only for our musical history but for their active role in the community. not many can hold true to both traditional rites of our african history.

also ruby dee and ossie davis were a true model of a couple working together in many fields that honor the ancestors and should be a part of our continued practice of rite of passages in or lives. we cannot use other cultures as an excuse to be ignorant and allow the media (matrix) of this society to destroy and distort our creative spirit.

Alicia Benjamin said...

Thank you for those words sister. That's beautifully put.

Ruby and Ossie Davis were true artists, activists, and spiritually connected mates. We've got a lot to learn from their story.