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By 651 ARTS on May 03, 2012

This blog was submitted to 651 from Yuaneque (Neque) Vaughan, a New Media & Arts Fellow who had the opportunity to interact with Blair Underwood at our Special Edition of Live & Outspoken with Blair Underwood and Carmen de Lavallade.

What comes to your mind when you hear the name Blair Underwood? Perhaps that he’s an accomplished actor? A multiple Golden Globe nominee. A 3-time NAACP image award winner. But, did you also know that he’s won a Grammy for his spoken word album, An Inconvenient Truth? Or that he was an “army brat” who has lived all over the world from Virginia to Germany? At first glance at his accomplishments, one may think that Blair Underwood would be the stereotypical accomplished actor. He’s pompous, arrogant, spoiled and an overall “diva.” Even though there’s a chance these perceptions can be true, I have a different view on Blair Erwin Underwood.

When I found out that I was going to meet and have a chance to speak to Blair, I was slightly nervous. But, I wasn’t nervous about talking to him, I was more nervous because I didn’t know what to expect. I had my questions, but I didn’t know how he would answer them. Would he be boring? Would he be eccentric? Would he be down to earth? Or would he be the stereotypical actor/star?

I had all of my questions and was within 2 minutes of being in the same room with him. He walked in and greeted everyone as if he knew them. This wasn’t a shock to me because everyone he greeted organized the event. However, what did surprise me was when he greeted me. He extended his hand, as I did mine, shook it and said “What’s up? I’m Blair and you?” And that was all I needed to know that the interview would go fine.

A lot of times stars forget what it’s like to be a fan or on the other side of the handshake. They lose sight of what it’s like to be normal. It was nice to know that even though he’s had success at some of the highest levels, Blair didn’t lose the ability to just give a normal, “What’s up?”

His down to earth attitude continued to show for the rest of the night. From backstage to the main stage for his conversation with world renowned dancer/actress Carmen de Lavallade. The two spoke about their beginnings, the places they’ve been, the people they’ve met and the things they’ve done, as well as their new beginnings, such as their roles in A Streetcar Named Desire. For me, it was almost nostalgic. Like watching the adults at a family party exchanging stories and laughs over drinks.

At the end of the night, as I walked Blair and Carmen to their car, I couldn’t help but feel inspired. However, I wasn’t inspired by their accomplishments or even that they were stars. I was inspired by the fact that they didn’t act like stars. They didn’t act like they were above anyone. They didn’t carry on about themselves. They acted like human beings. I hope that if I reach the highest levels of success in my profession, that I don’t lose sight of lessons like these.





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