Angela Bassett says the kinship that grew between her and the Notorious B.I.G.'s mom, Voletta Wallace, was that of two girlfriends. Wallace handpicked Bassett to play her in the Biggie biopic "Notorious," due January 16.
"I spoke to her on the phone," Mrs. Wallace said of her first interaction with Bassett. "I was out in California visiting my grandson. We had the opportunity to meet. I was over at [Faith Evans' house when Angela] came over. We sat and had dinner and had a long talk."
One of the most challenging aspects of playing Wallace was getting down the Jamaican accent, Bassett said. "It took awhile," the actress admitted. "Some of it, I had to work on it, get it later."
"Certain parts of the script, I taped my voice, and I guess that's how she got my accent," Wallace said. "They sent me tapes, I sent her tapes. And I was on the set every day. So there was not a time when she said, 'Oh, Mrs. Wallace, how was that?' She didn't have to do that. We had lunch together a lot. We had breakfast one morning. We'd just chat, woman to woman, mother to mother. We had a nice rapport together."
Bassett says having Wallace watch her every day made her a little nervous, but she was also reassured. "It can be a little intimidating, because you hope you're getting it right," she said. "You hope you're meeting their standards. We all have a way of seeing ourselves, the truth of it as we wish it were. Some of us are real honest with ourselves. Some of us embellish it. Mrs. Wallace is a straight shooter. Any question I had, I could go right to her. Lean into it. It was like girlfriends.
"She's a major part of the reason," Bassett added about why she chose to appear in the film. "Of course Biggie. It's a story about him, first and foremost. A major force in the hip-hop genre. One of the emissaries, gone too soon. He's one of the major bright lights in that arena. The type of person [Mrs. Wallace is], she is just fascinating to me. Her strength, her vulnerability, her ability to still laugh every day. To be supportive, to be on the set. I have seen a great deal of life worth living despite a major tragedy. That's a lesson each of us can take in some measure — large and small — with us into the issues we have to deal with day to day in our lives."
MTV News has some B.I.G. things on the horizon surrounding "Notorious" and its soundtrack — stay tuned for more in the coming days.
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