Blair Underwood: The Most Charming Man in the World

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S1: Blair, I meet your. I call out he picks up his pace and me his arm scooping up my. I got you, baby girl. He have smiles at me. I let go of the breath I was holding. And shake. Oh, my God. I sigh. That was so.

S2: It’s a ridiculous.

S3: Nicole? Yes. The first book is at large, are about to hear something I like to call podcast magic.

S4: It is magic. I don’t know what that sound is. It’s like food or magic particles going through the air to.


S2: I see, I see, yeah, I could. No, you’re right. That was magic. I feel it. I feel it.

S4: Oh, now we are about to have a conversation with a thirst object. I mean, he’s a thirst opted for at least two generations of people. Isn’t that just legendary to begin with? Man like, it’s just I’m so excited.

S3: I I think here’s the thing. The thing about this particular sex object is, as you mentioned, he’s probably a minimum like a sex object for two generations. He doesn’t look it, though. Now he’s consistently moisturized.

S5: Yeah, consistently smooth skinned eyes, bright like I am. I’m I’m tingling.


S6: Yes. He has a 35 year career move and it doesn’t seem like he’s going to stop anytime soon. Come on, longevity. He is currently starring on Broadway in a soldier’s play.

S7: And he’s just he smells so good. I mean, he smells so good.


S2: I can’t stop grinning. I’m really happy today.

S4: I’m so excited. My mother, my sister gone and it just died from jealousy.

S8: Every person I know. You may have already had just the echo of a of a chuckle, a warm chuckle in the background. It belongs to a very special guest.

S4: Yes. That chuckle belongs to a Mr. Blair Underwood legend. I’m so happy.


S2: I am so happy. You two are hilarious.

S9: Blair Underwood, you don’t even know how much we have spoken about you on this podcast fleetingly or AURIN. You’re gonna find out.

S4: So we’re going to try to start from the beginning. Yes. Krush Groove nineteen eighty five.

S10: You played the character based on Russell Simmons.

S11: It is a classic film in music history, in 80s history like it is. It is fantastic. Great soundtrack. But you were also one of few, very few actors, like people who are actually actors on that set. Everyone else was a musician or part of the music industry or whatever. And I wanted to know, how did that feel that. Were you very nervous about being like the only person who had studied, who had experience as an actor being involved in this kind of production with just musicians?


S12: Yeah. You know, I was I was one of few. Lisa Gay Hamilton was also in that production, who’s now starring on Broadway and To Kill a Mockingbird. But, yeah, you know, it’s it’s interesting because I had just come out of Carnegie Mellon. I had studied acting and in theater. So I had a certain amount of confidence that I was you know, I had been trained in this craft.


S13: But, you know, there’s there’s a there’s a dichotomy. There’s a huge difference between competency and even talent and popular culture popularity. You know, so I was on a set with Run-D.M.C., KURTIS Blow, the Fat Boys. The new addition, even Shealy, you know, so these were all huge stars in their own right. So, you know, and they had neither one or none had done a lot of acting. So I think I kind of balanced out and my character was the lead character in this film. So, yeah, there’s definitely nerves because I don’t know this world. You know, I just I had just come out of college. I was twenty, twenty, twenty one years old at the time. And all this all this stuff about Entourage, as you talk about entourages and managers and agents and tour buses, I said do the schematics for my little room pay my dues? Yeah, come on up. But but it did give me a story about a coffin’s guy. I felt like I had a new as you do at 21 years old, you’re just gonna getting out of college. But I kind of knew a little bit what what we’re doing in terms of the craft and the work and then the acting aspect of it.


S11: Yeah. So you started there. You started on television as well. You had a couple of appearances on The Cosby Show, two different characters, but you were there and that kind of jobbing actor. Yeah, I think. But that also kind of helped land. Helped you land. L.A. Law, which is what helped kind of push your star up into this. All right. It was my big break. Yeah. Yeah.


S14: I want to play a little clip from L.A. Law. We’ve got that clip now. Yeah. Right.

S15: UCLA Harvard Law editor of the Law Review AIMS Competition Best oral list.

S16: I am impressed, Mr. Rollins. Thank you, sir. Tell us a bit about yourself. Well, let’s see. My mother is an attorney. My father’s a professor of economics at UC Riverside. I’ve clerked for the past few summers at FELTER, Ivy McCoy. As a matter of fact, they offered me a permanent position, but under the heading less. Or I think that a small, prestigious firms such as McKinsey Brackman could be more responsive to my personal needs, or at least Bill Howard thinks so. Bill Howard as in Howard Enterprises. Yes, sir. He’s been a close personal friend of my family for years. That’s how Mr. Rollins came to our attention. He also told me that you have a real commitment to minority hiring that goes beyond tokenism. That means a lot to me. Well, Mr. Rollins, your education is top drawer. Your family connections are impressive. I think you could fit in quite nicely. Thank you. What would you be looking for in the way of compensation? 4:43 Dand. I wouldn’t be opposed to your designating a percentage of that as a signing bonus. Excuse me, but we’ve been starting our associates pretty much commensurate with the going rate, which, as I’m sure you’re aware, is considerably lower. I understand, sir, but I’ve already been offered seventy one with hort and gold. So much for your doctrine of less is more, sometimes more is more. Well, perhaps we could reach as high as 50 75. With all due respect, Mr. Brackman, this is not a negotiation.


S17: Gentlemen, it’s been a genuine honor and a pleasure. Thank you very much.

S18: OK. So. All right. Give me back. What I love so much. Just the little polls like, well, I think we’re done. Yeah. Oh, that’s right. That’s my take on my soul mate. Truly and confidently. Not kind of like this. No. Tentative dropping. It’s like. No, a full. Good day to you, sir.

S19: Oh my God.

S13: And that was when nineteen eighty nineteen eighty five. He said it. That’s right. Twenty one years old.

S20: So again just imagine being I mean here’s a thing that went like massive numbers of like young black men on TV all. And then you come along and.


S8: Yes. You know it’s kind of like a bit of oh yeah. The black guys articulate blah blah blah. But you’re a lawyer at one of the things I love about the writing in that scene is kind of like it’s it doesn’t wear itself too heavily. So his you know, the cards, he just says, yeah. My mother was an attorney, has a close family relationship with this person and blah, blah, blah. And I I you know, I’ve done all this stuff. I then they tried to lowball him and he never even blinks.

S18: He’s just kind of like, no, not gonna do that. Yeah. It’s wildly arousing even in my media.


S2: Yes. Wildly around my. It’s just it’s.

S11: Anyway Nicole and I want to know.

S21: Did playing that character in that scene also help you figure out how to negotiate your worth in Hollywood on a broader level, like once you started to accept more roles and things like.


S13: Oh, yeah. That’s a good it’s a great question, because you’re right. You know, he was seen oftentimes the articles came up that time and he’s articulate and it kind of bothered me a while saying impacts are very articulate like you. Why are you surprised that this person can speak the king’s English? But also, he was articulate, but he was also a very bold slash, arrogant. And I quite liked playing that because he was he was unapologetically brilliant, black and smart and and unafraid to speak his mind and speak to powers, speak truth to power. So so. Yeah, no, that that didn’t end the fact that people responded to that particularly. That’s my very first scene. That was the introduction of the character. And the fact people responded the way they did to that, characters said, OK, so maybe this is the way to be not arrogant, but to be bold and be unapologetic.


S8: Mm hmm. I like I like the boldness because he really was. And yes, the character over the years, you know. Yes. A slipped his arrogance often. But I also just like this idea of just like knowing your worth stating your was.

S9: Yeah. And then if that is not meant very you know, very simply just kind of go in. I guess I’m not going to live here. But thank you so much. Yeah. And then good day.

S13: We’ll talk about is there shades of that in the character I’m playing now. Broadway. Think we actually all get that.

S2: Yes. OK. And that’s great because that’s the thing.

S9: I didn’t watch a lot of L.A. law like it was always like because, you know, it’s one of those exports that would come on it. Like, you know, 11:00 p.m. in the U.K. when I was kids, I was like, I’m not going to really? Yeah, it was kind of late. It wasn’t it didn’t come on like prime time, but it was on TV. And I meant that because that’s how I remember seeing you like in a suit. Being a lawyer. And I was like, all right, cool. I know. I know that guy now was on the right and I came to London and promoted it.


S13: I do.

S9: I do remember. I don’t think we had Sky. But I think it must have come on on something. I must I know I’m a definite I remember watching. So it’s kind of like, why did I watch it? I couldn’t tell you. But I remember kind of thinking, oh, yeah, this is. It wasn’t like one of the I saw it probably as a rerun later, but I just remember kind of again, just understanding that this guy is doing something that I suppose I haven’t seen a lot of. Yeah. And it felt exhilarating even then to kind of watch just kind of like someone just like be in charge of their own life in a way that felt very kind of like hands on and not kind of like waiting for something to happen but was doing. Yeah. Yeah.

S22: I always find by somebody else, you know, I should be exactly. And present ourselves. Yeah. This idea that we have to make ourselves small and be grateful for that a little bit that we receive. No, I am a I’m a good I’m good at what I do when you need to pay me accordingly. I’m all these are never dim your light for anybody. Yes.

S2: I’m sorry. My hands are doing things that I just got like, whoo! It’s very true. I’m feeling something. I’m feeling great. Great.

S10: One of the comparisons that was made a lot when you first came onto the scene, of course, because you played very smooth, debonair, classy characters, was to Sidney Poitier. And I wonder if you’ve found that restrictive at any point as a it’s a fine compliment. Yeah, because he is one of the finest actors that we have ever seen. But I wonder if you felt like that’s great. But I am Blair Underwood.


S13: Well, it’s an extraordinary compliment. He’s the inspiration of why I wanted to become an actor. Actually, so. So, no, not not that comparison to be. It wasn’t restrictive at all. But but yes. What is restrictive sometimes is when people see you play a certain role or a certain type of role in a certain genre, too many times that’s all they can see. So it’s incumbent upon that actor or entertainer to have you got to break the mold. So you have to do different things. You’ve got to change it up, switch it up and surprise people. You’re constantly surprising people. You have to. Otherwise you you know, you just you’re taking taking for granted. He’s. Oh, I know. I know what he can do. It’s always beautiful when you can surprise people, say on, you know, evenings in half of it yet.

S22: Yeah. Like in oh is it 1993 posse. Yeah.

S2: You were cool looking at no different than Ed Sheeran. The North remembers. They call them the posse. Did a lot for me as a teenager. Right. Right now I did a lot for me. Oh, well, listen, she’s very happy right now. Explain yourself, Nick Potsie.

S6: You made the character Carver, who was the sheriff of the town that the men were trying to get to free Mainville. Yeah, yeah, that’s right. But Carver was a double crosser. That was a term for you. Right. Yeah.

S7: Because you were normally playing these, you know, confident men, but likeable, positive Mylie up. All right. Yes. Yeah. A noble Negro. Yes.

S2: I don’t even say that. Yes, it’s true. Yes. OK.

S11: Yes. So, Carver, can you talk about your decision process in choosing to play this character? And did it speak to that idea of let me change up what people think of me?


S13: Yes, it did from an intellectual standpoint. It’s it’s nice and knowing the importance of changing it up. But from a creative standpoint, that’s I’ve always been drawn to. And now you can look at 30 career. I’ve always been drawn to bad guys. They’re always more interesting to play the good guy. You know what to expect. You know what you’re going to get, which is great again, like I’m playing now that important soldiers play. You know, you know what the good guys gonna do? Bad guy, you don’t know. There’s mystery in there. Which which which I love to always explore it in mine. So. Yeah. So I knew creatively it gave me a chance to really do the things I really love to do and also surprise people if they are used to seeing you play the upstanding, articulate, brash attorney at that point. And um, and the noble Negro, that archetype, you know. So yeah, it’s always nice to flip it around. I mean that it’s so funny because now I’m at the point now my my little niece sent me a meme a year ago and had a picture of all these black actors and my face was in there. She said whenever these actors show up on the scene, you know a bit about a guest like, wait a minute.

S2: Now, that’s that’s how you see me. So what are you guys the bad guys?

S23: Which is funny because that’s a little baby. You don’t know my work because I’m actually the first 10 years my life. A lot of what I was here and I still here today, like sometimes in the same 20 minutes, I’ll see some in street. Why do you always play the good guys? Oh, turn around. Like why you must be the bad guys. So that’s that’s I’m grateful for that. Yeah. Because that’s a body of work to pick and choose from. Yeah. Speaking well but. But I’m sorry to say that but Carver and Posse was the beginning of that. And then just cause was which was the big paradigm shift in my career came next with Sean Connery. Laurence Fishburne, I played a serial killing pedophile, was a huge Warner Brothers studio film. Yeah. Yeah. And and that changed my direction, my career.


S7: Yeah. You didn’t get necessarily backlash. But a lot of, you know, a lot of actors were a little upset with that character.

S24: I remember it from just cause Bobby. Bobby l show Bobby. Yeah, I remember that. Do you remember any of that? Not really. Oh, I don’t. Maybe it was just, you know, a conversation. Yeah.

S4: Around like, you know, nail salon or stuff like that.

S12: I felt like I got permission to do that because at the time and I have to say, Mr. Portier has availed himself over the years and has been supportive in everything I’ve done, every live theater production I’ve done, he’s been there to support. And until last couple years, he’s been getting older, of course. But at that time, we were having lunch and I told him I was after seven years of L.A. Law. This was L.A. Law was coming to an end. And I was offered this role in just cause. And I said, I’m struggling with that because, you know, because we weren’t a lot of us at that time for African-Americans in film, television. So I said, I take. This this image that I’ve been able to build for the last seven years and now play a serial killing pedophile who raped and murdered this white 12 year old white girl in the south, that’s set up of the movie. And in that movie, Laurence Fishburne plays a cop who you think is the bad guy who’s just sweatin my character, Bob Euro. Yeah. Turns out. Long story short, turns out he’s the good guy. He was right all along. And I’m the bad guy. You think in the beginning is the good guy? You know why they switched names? I get arrested. And then the other and Mr. Porter said, you know, there has to come a time when I came along. Speaking of himself in the 60s, I had to always pay upstanding, positive roles. You said at this point there’s Denzel that this Danny Glover, Sam Jackson right on the list of other black actors who’ve come along and said, now you’re coming up to the ranks.


S23: There has to come a time when we should have the right and the ability to play all kinds of characters, the breadth of humanity. And I mean, I’ll never forget you said so. You said so. You play that role and you play it well.

S19: I love it.

S23: So I felt like I wanted an answer to your question. I feel like I had permission from the man I respected so much. And they spoke truth, you know? You know, it was a shifting time and more of our voices and faces and representation was being seen in film and television. So I saw it. So I didn’t have any reservations from that conversation or some good drama. Do it. Mm hmm. That’s right. And then and that and that. Because of that, it just really took a turn in so many characters after that. Yeah. Was Madea’s Family Reunion or. I mean we’ll get to them.

S11: Yeah. Yeah. But yeah. Cause you were terrible. And that’s the one you with. With Lynn Whitfield. Yeah. Yes, right. Yes.

S25: Lovely. I enjoy your character. That’s good. That’s supposed to.

S9: I want to just kind of very quickly come back to one of your best known good guy, morally upstanding. Just amazing. Which was very formative for me, because in 1995 I was a teenager and I watched set it off, but I forgot where I was.

S5: You know, your laugh was what I was laughing inside. So thank you for not being outward, because I remember watching that movie and I came in that specifically because I love Queen Latifah.

S8: Love Jada Pinkett. Back then. Well, she Smith then I don’t know. She was eating. I loves Jada. So I was kind of like, you know what? I’m going to just settle in. And then I was I was too young to be watching this, but I was like, sure, why not? But a bank robbery, violence I’m in. And then this lovely bank employee, this employee, the bank manager.


S2: This guy just he’s just doing a good job. Keith just came to work every day. He just has to pay his taxes. He just wants to be a good man.

S20: And he falls in love with Stoney fuckin Stone and then shit really hits the fan. Yeah. Now, for me, in the 90s, it was important for me to meet Keith because I just remember kind of thinking genuinely. I knew in my heart I thought if I ever brought Keith home, my mother would be so happy for all of us.

S18: Yes. Isn’t it great? I was so I was so in love with Keith. The idea of Keith, but also Keith just kind of like this.

S3: I remember when when Stoney tells him to go to the faraway cafe.

S2: And I was like, he’s just trying to save your life. Keith, like you said, I was very.

S26: I was set it up. Meant a great deal to me. And again, I’m just trying to think about it at that time.

S8: There was a sort of like a swell a groundswell of young black actors, mostly male. Some women, too. But like this shift at the beginning of the 90s, we’d had a good amount of kind of like gang cinema, some of it classic stuff, some of it less so. And then there were there’d been like this small paradigm shift like, okay, we’ve done a bunch of like, you know, inner city kind of like rough and tumble shit, bad like, you know, movies. Didn’t move a little bit to the, you know. And in that way, film was catching up to TV because TV with L.A. Law had already you know, there was already a bit of, you know, the Cosbys had been on film, was trying to get into that kind of Middle-Class kind of like, oh, there were other black people with other black stories. Right. Kind of. So then Keith fits right into that that whole period. So did you ever feel like when you were playing Keith? I don’t know. I know films are not you don’t do it for years and years. Obviously, you’re in. You’re out. But I just. Did you feel like you were a part of something where you thought, oh, OK, this is a time when we’re doing this kind of. Because I didn’t feel still obviously a crime movie. Yeah. But within it, this idea of, like you were saying before about the breadth of humanity where we get to be all these things. Were you aware of it while you were in it? That I think we’re on the cusp of something and things are changing again.


S23: You know, I did eventually I actually passed on that project first. Oh, yeah. You know, I used to direct videos in the 80s. And F. Gary Gray, who directed Set It Off, has become a very, hugely successful director. My first A.D. and the first assistant director runs a set. Right. And the first first three music videos I did. And so he was now directing this film. And, you know, the invitation came in at the time I was shooting a film for HBO called Soul of the Game, all about the Negro Leagues of baseball. I was playing Jackie Robinson. Delroy Lindo played Satchel Paige up to him simply. Josh Gibson was the best amazing batters of the Negro Leagues. And so I was in this I was in this noble Negro zone. And I love history. I love historical pieces and I not doing the historical piece. And to your point them, I get the script while I’m in the middle of shooting this. I’m in my hotel room. And I knew Gary was doing it. So as F. Gary Gray, Gary was directing. So let me let me read it. And Jada was doing and then Dana Quantitive was doing it. And I read the first 18 pages and there was a scene where Jada decides to sleep with somebody to make money so as her brother can go to college. And I was like, I don’t I don’t be a part of that, because you’re right. We’re at that point. We have Boyz n the Hood, Menace to society and all these urban films with violence. And there’s a lot there was backlash. These were successful film. People say, why do we always do? We always have to either do slave films or gangster films. Do we have to do that? So when this was coming along, by the way, people thought, OK, now going to girls LaHood’s, we had a lot of pushback right in the black community. Why are we doing another film about girls doing it now being gangsters? But anyway, so I said no. And I said, thank you, but I’m going to pass on that. And then a week later, my manager called and said, OK, so they want to know, like, why did you pass? And I said, well, you know, Harlem was a name, my manager. You know, I actually didn’t finish reading the scripts. Boy, you crazy. Read the damn script and then get back to me once I read it. And to your point, Anderson, it’s beautiful to hear your response. Now, when I saw the love story between Keith and Stoney and I saw that in the midst of all this violence and what everything else was going on, I said, you know, this is another texture that’s important for us to see black love. Yes, it’s important for us to see that. And then I also saw I call it a love story between those four girls. Yeah, platonic love story and loyalty and the way they had each other’s back and said, this is this is powerful. Yes. So, yes. And that’s the question. I saw the paradigm shift in that it was going through a female lens. But to play Keith into to play that kind of that that play that lane inside that world just was very appealing. That was I was mad at myself for even saying no. But I learned a lesson. I have never too since then said no to something less. I’ve read the whole thing, so I know what I’m saying, too. And I’m glad it is. People, we are talking about it to this day. There’s a great film out of that film to this day.


S10: I love that movie. Speaking of the love between Stoney and Keith, the love scene.

S2: Now we’re getting into the third guy because we’ve spoken about this on the show before. Yes.

S27: Oh, Mr. Underwood, we have young AIDS and just bright in my brain.

S7: But I may be mistaken. You can please correct me, but I feel like that is maybe the only, if not one of very few love scenes that we’ve seen you in. That’s been my necessarily explicit, but, you know, gave enough for us to understand what this is. Yeah. Yeah. And I remember very clearly my sister loved the moment where you take the necklace keys take the necklace.

S14: The slide slides it on me. Yes. Yes. Yes, it is.

S7: But I feel like, you know, obviously you have. You have, you know, shown us that you are a beautiful man. Sometimes you’ll be shirtless, are like your shirt is open. There’s a moment that we’ll talk about in the soldier’s play where your shirt is opened. I remember that very clearly. But set it off that love scene. I think it is one of the rare times where you have been that. I don’t want to say explicit cause I don’t think it was very it wasn’t explicit, but it was exposed. Yeah. So exposed. And I wonder if that’s something that is a conscious decision on your part, not to be too explicit in your and your romantic roles.

S21: Because we’ve talked about some actors like Martial Ali. He does not do explicit scenes speak, you know, out of respect for his faith. We have. Well, I don’t know if this is true, but I do remember coming up the rumors that Denzel Washington did not want to do love scenes unless they were with black women or other women of color.


S7: And then test will apparently burn out. I remember hearing that. Yeah. So I don’t know if that’s true, but that’s just a rumor. So you have these ideas that, you know, sometimes people just uncomfortable with doing that. Mean not to say that I’m comfortable with it. Do you feel like people are if you’re comfortable with it, do you feel like people are are limiting you then in that regard?

S12: No, I’ve actually done quite a bit of that. An independent film, Sex and the City was much more specific.

S24: You know, I’ll I’ll get to that.

S12: So. So, no. You know, I just feel I just feel as as an individual, not even as an actor. But I feel as an individual. What is sexy is when there’s mystery and mystique. I think a woman who has something sexy, the way her dress draped her way that, you know, the pants fit, that’s much more sexy to me than just a naked body. I wish, you know, we’ll get to that. But it is I think I think it goes both ways. You know, we’ll talk about this thing and soldiers, because it really is just it’s like a quick thing. Yeah. As opposed to just having a shirt off, which is that which is more explicit. Yeah. So there’s this there’s a there’s always more to guess and to look for and think about Ava DuVernay who you worked with on I will Follow.

S11: Yes.

S10: She has talked about she does not do explicit sex scenes. She has talked about it’s the before and then after where all the intimacy is. And I love that, even though, you know, I’m a little hot blooded. I love this idea that it’s the tenderness that that happens before and after. Is where you find the romance, the intimacy, the the companionship between people.


S23: Absolutely agree with that. So let’s say even if you’re an adult, you know what sex is. Yeah. I just feel like it says that sometimes way too much. But if you know what I did Sex in the City, I knew what I was walking into the name of Show Sin.

S24: So I know I’m doing it in a city that’s going gonna be sex. Yep. Yeah. I didn’t watch Sex in the City. I read it was. Our expert, Dr. Robert Leeds.

S18: Like, allow me to prepare my thesis. I remember when he turned up and I remember kind of thinking, oh, there are black people in New York.

S7: Hello. Right. Because the show did not really like the diversity of the city.

S26: It did not. And there was there’d been one for a previously was a month. Samantha had been with this black guy, Shevaun. And it was that was a whole mess of a storyline. And that really kind of made me think, you know, maybe we shouldn’t be in this. It’s fine. This is diversity. Who cares? It’s fine because it was so bad. And then Robert came along. And so this this struck me because Robert came along. Then I also watch something new.

S20: And I was like, I’ve set Blair up to be like this incredibly attractive, wonderful person, but he’s not going to get the girl.

S2: And the white guy was like, oh, it’s like, oh, you make me not root for black, you bastards who did this.

S20: But what I loved about Robert was that he was this he was so macho and he was so on.

S8: I don’t know. I liked how real he was. Like, you know, he saw this woman, he like this woman. They started going out. And at every turn, he he was just like a very good again, not without complexity, but a good guy. Like really one of those people that, you know, you day and you’re kind of like, huh? There’s nothing wrong with it. He’s not broken. Oh, well, that’s nice. But what I love often, Miranda does this kind of like, I’m so sorry. You know, you’ve wondered and it was about but it’s breaking up with him. And Robert becomes the pettiest motherfucker like.


S18: And he made me so happy because I was like, finally, there he is, like, real well. I love that scene so much because you play it so well ‘cause you’re hot and you’re just kind of. And the way it’s kind of world thing in the stairwell, his face is just like you can see his her.

S9: But he lashes out because when you’re humiliated, you lash out. Right. Yeah. I love that scene so much.

S8: And I was always sad that he didn’t have a longer. I wanted him to be just there forever because I just I really enjoyed your performance. And I thought Robert, the character was again, one of the wait. I was like, oh, they come right black is if they take the time. You playing of him was just really something special. And I I loved that. And then I remember thinking about him obviously watching something new. And I was like, they’ve done it again. They’ve made me choose this one, which I’m not mad at, but still mad at you. I love I love Robert yet, Mike. That’s my one of my favorite scenes in the whole series is when he kind of taunts Miranda. Just kind of like, why did you even why did you let me into your life like you?

S23: Yeah. You know, you had this thing for Steve Ryan. That’s right. Why would you do that?

S9: But anyway, but the way I was going to say that that was that one of the things that I found so compelling. Do you do you when you were asked to do that and you did that. What were you thinking? Because, you know, like I said, Sex and City.


S23: Well, I love it. Just such aficionados of of city. Huge. Yeah. No, because, you know, I’ve never seen this episode with much of Samantha and Shavon was. Yeah. Yes, it was. Never saw that episode. But you don’t watch it. But you know, we talked about we started the conversation with longevity that I’m very grateful for. But if there’s a reason for that is because of I’ve tried to be very selective in the roles I’ve taken, what I don’t take. So that was another situation. They offered me that role. Siobhan Oh, they did. Siobhan The character I never saw.

S8: Yeah, he was he was the he was like a was he?

S23: Well, all I know is when I saw it, I read it and it was all about Samantha’s curiosity with a black man. Yeah. Ah. Ah, the rumours. True. Yeah. Sighs I said, I don’t. I’m not. I don’t do that. Yeah. Thank you. So I was like two years later they came back with this character. So here’s the deal. I’ve had this conversation about five different producers on at least five or six different projects. I’m not gonna be the black guy that you don’t quite understand. Unless we can write a story that’s all about the racial dynamic, especially with an interracial relationship, we can get into the nuts and bolts and the real stuff. But just to do something that you think black people say and do, if you don’t really quite understand my culture, it’s okay if you don’t, but I’d rather not do that dance. So I just take race off the table or have in the past. I said, so if this guy can just be a man who happens to be black, that’s that. Miranda falls in love with. Right. Then I’ll do that dance, you know. So that’s that’s how I. Yes. How do I feel when that can. Yeah. I’m on the table. That’s how I felt. I said I don’t I don’t want to I don’t do that dance about being the black guy. So I saw how you guys treated that the last time. And they agreed. So if you look at, you know, you saw it. So I think I did five episodes only wants to his race. Come on, Kim, come up. That was Samantha talking about. So you have thing about you with the black guy. Yeah. And that was a bit of a pub.


S9: Yes. Yeah. But I. I love that because again, speaking about speaking a lot about how TV has changed over the course of your career. And it’s interesting to see the places where more black lives are allowed to kind of be explored and B and where it used to be and how far we still have to go. Yeah. Because it’s not the norm that you get to play a character. You know, who is not suffering from some kind of racial trauma or whatever, you know, like it’s fine to do that. It’s a reality of life in America for many people. But I also think it’s this is it just and that’s what I loved. And that’s another thing I loved about something new, which again, I watched slightly, obsessively, which is fine, but it’s fine. I’ve got over it. I saw a therapist. I’m fine. But I just remember, again, one of the things that one of the characters says is IBM, the ideal black man. And it made me laugh because I thought in that regard, you really couldn’t get a better like actor Blair Underwood to play.

S2: You know what I mean?

S9: Like, he’s he’s played the ideal black man so many times in different forms, in different films and like on TV and feel so just at once. She said that. And then it turned out to be you. I was a good customer.

S25: Good job, everyone. Everyone’s cooking with gas today like Ozzy’s wrong.

S10: We do want to talk about a soldier’s play. Oh, would you are currently starring in now? Now. I saw it.

S14: That’s incredible. Coming. No, I’m going to come to that. Sorry.


S21: You’ve talked a little bit about how you are very much interested in black history and honoring our history and the things that we have gone through. Did that play a role in why you chose to be a part of this production?

S12: Oh, yeah. You know, this one checked a lot of boxes. That being one of them being a lover of history, being a lover of respecter of our armed services. My father’s the retired Army colonel. Twenty nine years. So I grew up. I was an army brat. I grew up self self proclaimed army brat. I grew up on army bases. Up until high school. So the whole understanding of living in a military family and the sacrifices of military personnel is very much in my blood. So to be able to portray a character like that’s not the first time. But in this piece, that’s for the other boxes come into play. The fact that it was Charles Fuller, Pulitzer Prize winning play, the iconic history of the 1980s version at the Negro Ensemble Company produced off-Broadway, the NTC that starred in the Washington. Sam Jackson, Jim Pickens, Brent Jennings, so many other people who have had an incredible career since then, the movie source, One Soldier Story, two years later, nineteen eighty three. So it’s a whole history. And the fact that it had never been on Broadway the first time on Broadway, it’s been produced all over the world literally. So to be a part of that and to work with David Alan Grier was our heart.

S11: And he was a part of the film.

S23: He was part of it. He was in the film and he was also in the play. That play ran for two years. He was he ran the last couple months of that run. So this is his third iteration of Third Bite at the apple of the soldier’s play. But now it’s an amazing end work with Kenny Leon. Also, Brian, the director. He’s a legend. Yeah, he’s just it’s his 15th Broadway play.


S18: His name just comes up and I’m like Kenny again.

S3: He’s employed. So I don’t worry about me. I’ll be I’ll be on Broadway. Come find love. Every time I see his name, I’m like Kenny. All right. Kenny is a playwright, by the way.

S2: Oh, really? Yeah. Thanks for the plug. I appreciate it. Yes, I had my first place they did in London last year. Granulation. Thank you.

S26: What’s the name of it? It’s called Hord Horn. Yes, it’s about a Nigerian British family. London, which is loosely based on my family. But you know it, right? Yeah, it was very.

S2: Yeah, it was very. Thanks, Nicole. Yes.

S24: I’ll be looking for your stuff in the United States while I get my hands. My hope is my hope is that as an American producer, we’ll will hear this and contact me. But no, I was very I was very honored.

S8: And yeah, it’s it’s wonderful to kind of. It’s interesting to kind of see a play on on the page and how it kind of translates and how it evolves. You know, I remember when we were doing it, we started out, you know, workshop. And then, you know, you do a lot of changes a little bit. And then the final thing is so different. And I I’m always fascinated to see how something translates. And with someone like David Alan Grier being on every iteration of it, that becomes interesting as well, like how the play evolves as the more you perform it.

S9: Yeah. So the play is still kind of view new on stage and you know, this production. Are you already feeling yourself like changing and like fitting in into the role in a different way?


S13: Every night I find something new. You know, we’ve been running only five weeks now. It’s an 11 week runs. We have six weeks left and then we’ll be done March 15th. But but still, I mean, every night I’m finding something new. You know, it’s when those plays, like any great play, Shakespeare or whatever it is, you can’t lean back even when you think you know it and you’ve done it a million times, you can’t just lean back. So every every night when the curtain goes up, you have to lean into it and just drive it. Because I think a couple nights ago, I was feeling very comfortable. You know, because we’ve been doing it so many times, you know, we’ve done it all. All the reviews have come out. And we had open night and and done thing a million times in my opening of his long opening monologue. And something just happened.

S23: It was a two show days where our had already done the matinee this evening performance. And I just sat alone and my mind plays tricks on as I did. I say what I said three hours ago. And it was I got lost for a second and you get out of it. But but it’s live theater. Anything goes right. And it’s yeah. It’s a new play every night. I think every night. New play in that. You know what? The audience informs that, too, right? Yes. Like tonight we I heard out of Sigma Phi Beta Sigma. We have 60 Sigma members coming tonight. So I know it’s gonna be low, raucous.

S14: There’s gonna be a different show tonight. I’m gonna say you’re gonna like sneak a look and signal by my sniggered. And for those who are unfamiliar with a soldier’s play.


S21: Can you give us a synopsis, please? Absolutely.

S12: It is first and foremost a whodunit. It’s a murder mystery. So we’ll start with that genre of it all set in 1944 during World War 2, an all black battalion and the sergeant of that battalion played by David Alan Grier. Sergeant Waters is murdered at the beginning of the play. So that’s the murder mystery. My character, Captain Richard Davenport, comes into the mix and he investigates that.

S2: The murder and I of what? What are you giggling about? There is a quarter like goes out. They go on. Explain yourself.

S4: There is a moment, a couple of moments in the play where Captain Davenport has sunglasses on. Yeah. And it really bothers the white men around him. And I mean, no one it is kind of rude to have all sunglasses when you’re inside. You’re talking to people. But there’s also the level of racism that comes with that because, you know, at that time and and even still to this day and in some places they white people want to make sure that you are not looking them in the eye, that your eyes are appropriately downcast in front of them, that you’re not being, you know, sassy, that you’re not doing anything with your eyes to reflect how much you hate them.

S21: That’s another thing that were afraid. Not only were they afraid of you not being submissive enough, but they were also afraid of seeing you or dislike of them in their fear in their eyes. So Captain Davenport has sunglasses on and in one scene and then there’s another scene later where he has to interview these two white men, one of whom is very, very racist, very proud to be racist. And so he comes in the office and he’s you know, he’s just regular. He’s whatever. But when these men come in, he puts those sunglasses on. And they clearly signals to the audience. And then there’s the little titter that went through the audience.


S4: That’s just fantastic. Let’s listen. All right. Man.

S12: Yeah. Well, you know, those glasses represent to me, you know, another aspect of why I think white people especially then do not want black folks to look them in the eyes and step off the sidewalks. And the other was they did not want to be challenged by them. So, you know, the only time Captain Richard Davenport wears those glasses is when he’s confronting white men.

S23: You know, it’s Captain Taylor who’s and that’s another issue in the play, is the fact that kept my character is of equal rank to Jerry O’Connell’s character, Captain Taylor. And he just can’t get used to it. And as he does the whole monologue to black folks, he just he says the uniforms in the bars and the rings does not look right on Negroes. And so that’s that’s where we go. And that’s what my character is confronting from the very beginning. So it’s his way of also intimidating white men. Yeah. To say I’m well, I’m I’m looking you in your eye, but you just can’t see my eyes not looking away. I’m not looking down. Yeah. And in that scene, he says, take those. Let us off because getting to him like these last family keep I’ma do my job and I like them because I like McArthur’s, General MacArthur from World War 2, it always gets a good laugh. But no, I love that. That that coloring and that that texture to the character that you just put in there is something magical.

S18: Yeah, I’m gonna watch this. I promise. I’m gonna come back. Say hello. Yeah. Come back at the scene. But I’ll come back. Stay back. We’ll go back. Well, as long as you know blerd find us and let us through. That sounds lovely.


S9: So if you I mean my fingers and toes crossed. Come on, Tony. Nomination. Come on time. At which point you will be one step closer to ego thing.

S23: Oh, well, that would be making him go there. He’s like this. Two boxes checked.

S9: That’s great. I mean, it’s wonderful because you have you’ve mentioned your interest in history and the source of your Emmy. The source of your your Grammy is kind of really interesting. Just, again, your interest outside of your regular kind of work. You got the Emmy for give. Yeah. I mean, you got the Grammy for speaking. What for An Inconvenient Truth. Yeah, that’s right.

S18: And it’s kind of like how what’s he gonna do? What’s he gonna get the Oscar for? Well, it’s exciting. It’s nice to kind of excited about that. Listen, I don’t have, you know, this answer, but you’re very talented. Oh, I know.

S9: And it’s it’s a treat, again, as we said, to kind of see that kind of thing rewarded. I know that oftentimes the powers that be do not recognize talent and ability and hard work in a way that you think is appropriate. And some of that is subjective. Some of it is whatever. But I do think that there is historically and we know this and it’s very provable that oftentimes people don’t get their flowers at any point. And so it’s always a treat when, oh, someone’s doing work and someone’s getting the applause, they’re getting the notice.

S20: And also because so much of the notice on the applause is tied again to your quote. And so, again, it’s kind of like it’s important when you want to go make your own. And it’s like and of course, we’re making art. There is a reason why the official channels that we know, we know why that matters as well. And I think in the course of career and considering especially how long you’ve been doing this and how well you’ve been doing, there should be rewards that are apparent. And we see them and that makes us feel good. And so it does have that feeling of like, oh, yeah, when you win, it’s kind of like it’s like, you know, I know I didn’t win, but I kind of did because I’m a fighter. And it’s nice to see. So that’s why I’m pushing for the Tony. So, Tony, it was her out there.


S24: Go see this nominee accordingly. You know, you know your sweetheart.

S12: And thank you for saying that, you know, the Emmy was won for producing a show, as you mentioned, called Give about Philanthropy. And I mention that because, you know, so much of what we do is about giving back is about entertaining and performing all that. But it’s about trying to be selfless. But it but it is nice when people notice the world and I know I just know of too many too many incredibly talented people who use being the people doing the work and aren’t being knowledge, but to people who aren’t given the opportunity to even get the work. So that’s why I mentioned give that’s why I sort of focusing on producing product to give more people opportunities to tell their story. And that’s that’s non-scripted, unscripted piece. But just looking to do more projects where actors are hired, directors are hired, producers are hired. ABELS And able to and is a dear friend for 20 some odd years. But she’s also one of my heroes because of what she’s been able to accomplish and the way she’s employing specifically black women directors and filmmakers. So that’s that’s that’s where my main focus is. I must continue to my work and do my thing.

S22: But if I can open up other opportunities for other people through my production company in other ways and means that I’m focused on doing that, too, that’s great, because along those lines you have a film that recently opened at Sundance has just picked up by Hulu called Bad Hair, directed by Justin Simien. Who is he directed Dear White People. Yeah.


S11: Yeah. So I feel like that speaks to your need to pull people up with you and make sure that everyone is getting there. There are opportunities, even if you’re just you know, you’re just there. You know, as a supporting role or whatever, it’s still that’s that’s major to be like I Blair Underwood in my film.

S23: Right. Oh, well, well, thank you. And you’re a bad I don’t play a big role in it. But he said he said, you know, I did a little run on dear white people and said, would you come on board? I said, yeah, like Abel’s first movie. Right. You know, I met her when I was doing City of Angels, another 20 something I didn’t know I was a black drama in a hospital and seen it. And she was the publicist was hired to promote that project before she was even directing. And I just just loved and adored her spirit and her drive for hustle, her passion, but her brilliance also. So, yeah. So, you know, she calls. Yeah. I’ll show up and Justin calls. Yeah, I’ll show up. You know, if I have the time and I can do it, why not. Mm-Hmm. All right. I love that.

S26: I love it. It’s great. Before we go, though, I have to just play a clip for you. So I mentioned before you go.

S8: We have mentioned you would love and respect on the show because obviously we’re huge fans and you’ve been watching for so long. And so we had one of the one of the friends of the show, Davina. She’s hilarious. She’s fantastic. And she we were talking about, you know, certain people over the years. And she said, I’m glad you mentioned because Harry, someone that I have loved for a very long time. She used to watch you when she was younger on L.A. Law with her mom and her grandma. Prunty, her grandma thought, you look like Sam Cooke. And so she was with you then.


S26: So we have a little clip from when we spoke to Veena about you being just some kind of version of IBM being Blair and you being gloving Blair, you know, and this is what she said. And I just want to play this so you can hear it.

S28: Oh, it’s like two thousand twenty. And I see him on Sex and the City. He played Miranda’s boyfriend for a few episodes. And at that time I was like, yes, this man is fine as hell. Yes. OK, grandma, I get it. Yes. And now I’m in my thirties. And as an even more mature woman, he is even hotter to me because Blair Underwood is like a grown man. He’s grown man fine, you know. And it’s like the older I get, the more I appreciate him. It’s like my thirst gets more potent that age. I just he’s just fine. I just want to watch and do stuff like even little things like this when I watch him take off his watch at the end of the day.

S2: I’ll be going in. That is hilarious. We love you. We don’t want him knowing about love, you know, wants to watch you take off your watch at the end of the day. That to me is the epitome of first aid kit where it’s not. Yeah, someone’s cute. Someone’s what? I just want to I just want to watch you take off. Your watch is such a specific kinders. I’ve never I’ve never heard that.

S11: Oh, can you talk about it again? You have a 35 year career so far. Can you talk about the ways that people have expressed their attraction to you, their love for you?


S21: How has it changed from late 80s through the 90s, through the, you know, early aughts to the present day? Have you noticed a change? Obviously, social media plays a role in how things and how people express their desire. Those means that you talked about earlier and things like that. But I’m wondering, you know, people probably have gone from, you know, mailing their panties to you.

S14: It’s just saying they want to see you take off your what? You.

S12: I think social media is the biggest thing because now people can anonymously say what they want to say, that they won’t say if like face to face necessarily. I think other than that, you know, human nature is human nature and is just expressed through different modes. And now it’s social media. Yeah.

S11: Is there a memorable piece of fan mail that you’ve ever received that you’ve you’ve just been kind of like, okay, I I thank you, but we got to let them go.

S23: Panties in. And I have smoked. Cigarette.

S19: Oh, wow. What’s she like? You know, you put her brother on blast. I bet it is. Put this away a little bit like a cigarette.

S24: When I said mailing the panties. I was just being silly. No, actually, I would be surprised if some postage was cheap.

S2: You got anything that you put it into? A little plastic.

S11: Wow. Well, we were first trying to book book you to come into the studio. The day that we typically record you were unavailable because you that’s the day that you want to spend with your family. That’s your your day.

S10: And I wonder, how long did it take you to get to a point where you could say, no, this is my time and this is what I have to do for myself and for my family. And I can’t I can’t take this responsibility right now.


S12: I think early on, you know, I I heard years ago, Denzel Washington do an interview and he said, and then I never forgot this. You always have the right to say no. Now, the context of that interview, who’s talking about professional choices? But I just took that to mean and for myself just in life. You know, I come from a very close knit family. I have an older brother, two younger sisters. And just family comes first. Always has always come first. So I’ve always tried to just find that balance between whatever my hustle is, whatever I have to do for my work, my my profession, but never lose sight of a family, you know? Well, it’s wife, kids, the siblings, parents. You know, at this point, my dad’s 87, my mom’s 84. So they live in Virginia and working in New York. So I try to get up to Virginia as often as I can, aging and know, grateful for every day.

S26: So. You have a couple of projects coming up that we are very excited about. The first one is self-made, which is about the first black female billionaire Madam C.J. Walker.

S9: And you play her husband, who is by his side in the come up season. The unseeable. Yes. What’s what was that like? I mean, he expects me to say that.

S12: So it’s on Netflix. It starts March 20th. It’s fought for our limited series, like When They See US was on Netflix. Octavia Spencer, the Academy Award winning Octavia Spencer plays Madam C.J. Walker. And I have to say, she was the first female, black or white, first female self-made millionaire in this country, which is amazing. And she made her money in early nineteen hundreds by creating black hair products for four black women. And that’s amazing story. Tiffany haddish plays her daughter, Jaafar Nicholson, who’s in sort of play, is in it as well. Garrett Morris, I play a son and I and I play C.J. Walker. So her name was actually Sarah Breedlove. But Sign of the Times, she was known in relationship to her husband, Mississippi Walker Embassy Walker. So, yes. So please check that out. That’s coming soon. That’s me.


S10: And you also have Olympic pride, American Prejudice coming out, just hit stores yesterday.

S23: So where books are sold or him or

S12: So in a nutshell, it a lot of us know of Jesse Owens 1936 Olympics. He won four gold medals. There were 17 other African-Americans who history has forgotten. This is their story in addition to Jesse. But it’s really shining a light on who these people were. It’s based on a documentary that Deborah Riley Draper produced, wrote, directed, exactly. Produced with her. And I narrate the documentary. This is the book that’s published under my Simon Schuster. But my imprint. Blair Underwood presents. So if it makes any book, good books, good stories, more looking for good stories to bring my kids.

S2: I love everything I love.

S9: One final thing. I just have to say this again, because you’re speaking before again, I saw that some Alfre Woodard has just put on her sister’s soiree that she puts on every year for other black women in Hollywood, Prioleau scores. And of course, that made me think of Anita, where you play a version of yourself which made me laugh. So while men and offers fantastic. Obviously we’ll watch it forever.

S26: But I remember every time you came on onscreen, I burst out laughing because it was kind of like a heightened parody version of like, again, the idea. And I love it so much because she was going to play as a clear operative who’s going to play a clip. But I love this clip so much because it just seems to me to be exactly what Vina was talking about, about, you know, at least two generations of women just gonna play. And it made me it made me so happy to see. Let’s play the clip.


S29: Your mom is a hoe. You know what he does? He was like, oh, I’m in a different place. Oh, oh, oh. There’s like a that is going to make you happy.

S2: Can I do the music? The you. You literally would burst out laughing every time I knew it was coming and I would just laugh. So funny. And your face is, oh, I love you, I. Glass everyone involved.

S23: I we we laughed so hard. And that said Alfie’s another one. You know each other 25, 30 years. And my husband Roderick and he Roddick wrote that for her book and just, you know, to to poke fun at yourself or whatever your image is and just have fun with it. We we had we had a great time doing that. That’s great.

S18: It just made me like just the opposite way. Okay.

S9: He’s well aware of, like the the vision of like himself in people’s minds. And so I just I loved watching it because it was so, you know, the fantasy breaks and he’s asking you for money and whatever.

S24: And I was like, yeah, there’s that that turned out okay. So there’s another side. I love it. I love it so much.

S4: Well, this has been a Valentine’s Day treat and a Black History Month treats. I mean, this is this is that black excellence? Yeah, right here. I just I feel like this is one of the top ten moments for the rest of my life.

S2: I believe me. I told them y’all are on it. Thank you so much.

S26: Oh, my gosh, my sister is just going to have a fit. It’s fine, it’s fine. I’m genuinely so pleased, so happy that you could make it and you have exceeded every incredibly lofty expectation. So thank you. Thank you so much. Blair Underwood. There you have it.


S23: I’m gonna go die now on the podcast and keep keep doing it. Thank you. Thank you very much.

S30: Thursday is a slate production produced by Sheriff Vincent and Nicole Perkins. And then add on me. Our music is by Tanya Morgan. You can follow Blay on Twitter and Facebook at Blair Underwood. All one word. And he’s also on Instagram at Blair Underwood under school official. You can follow the show at first aid kit. And we are at Beamon. Do you? That’s B. I am a W and Tennessee whiskey woman. That’s T N whiskey with an E. Woman. And we’re on Tumblr at first aid kit podcast or tumblr dot com. Feel free to live tweet. Listen if you like. Please use the hashtag tach pie. That’s t. p.o.d.. When you do, you can also send us delightful feedback via email at Thursday at Slate dot com. If you want to use also Somalias service. Yes, it’s still going. Just send us a short and we mean no longer than a minute message. The number is 5 1 0 9 8 4 4 7 7 8. That’s 5 1 0 9. Just non-u.s plus buckets can send us a short moistness by email. At best, 8 kids at slate dot com. You can find all of our episodes and links to listen at Slate dot com slash podcasts and guess what we are doing? Bonus segments. Every episode that’s just for Slate plus members. They’ll be something different every week. For example, recurring discussions about high priority first items like rolled up shirt sleeves and gray sweatpants even and others I was will have on a special guest to talk about parathas objects in something we call explain yourself where our guests try to convince us to join the third’s bandwagon. People don’t quite see it for basically you’re going to get an extra dose of first aid kit every week. You do not want to miss out on that. So listen, you have to join Slate plus Slate plus is Slate’s membership program. But just $35 for the first year. You’re going to get a little extra from this ship. Plus all other slate shows like Dave Prudence The Waves, which Nicole is a model and culture gabfest. You’ll also get to listen to all your slate shows without any ads. But most importantly, you will be supporting the work we do here Thursday. So please sign up and start to enjoy these premium sips, just like your first head over to slate dot com bust a plus to sign up. We’ll be back next week. And in the meantime, first, responsibly tell a friend about us and wear socks. Okay, bye.


S31: Well, what we do here on Thursday, Kate, I know you’ll feel cold out.

S32: Wow. Welcome, Slate Plus listeners. Hello. Hi.

S4: This week we are introducing a new segment and it’s called High Priority.

S3: First item, my interest is piqued. Nicole, what is a high priority? First items all about?

S4: We’re going to talk about all the different things that, you know, by themselves, which is fairly regular. But when on the right person, they become some sort of thirst magnet.

S10: They don’t. Yeah, just I mean the Henley shirt. Yeah, right. A nice watch. Yes. Classes or all that kind of stuff.

S4: But today we’re going to go deep on the white Oxford shirt.

S3: Oh now. Yes, that is the Superman slash Clark Kent of the first lexicon because it’s cotton. Yeah. Usually it’s a very simple shirt design. The most simple. The most basic. Every culture has a version of it. But there is something that once applied in a first situation, a white shirts, also known as a white dress shirt, also known as a white button down. Also known in England as a shirt.

S4: Once that happens, it’s like like you said, the temperature, everything changes. Yeah. And it works on any body type. Listen, just it’s amazing. It’s just very sexy. Probably because it’s so simple.

S3: I think that’s it. It’s the most democratic choice because it’s the item that many people, if not most people have. And because first is tailored, look what I did that led to essentially personal taste. It’s the kind of thing that works. The democracy is inbuilt. Yes. Yes. It’s a shirt. Put it on. There you go.


S4: Yes.

S27: And you know, you can actually do a lot with it depending on your on your interest. But yeah.

S4: So we’re going to talk about that. And we’re gonna have a good time. It’s the shirt, guys. The shirt.

S31: A few years ago at RACT, there was this interesting article called Do women actually wear men’s dress shirts after sex?

S3: It was a valid line of inquiry. It was a very valid line because it’s a question that I myself have pondered. Yeah, because, you know, Nicole, you and I close in age. There definitely was. And maybe still is a feeling that a woman wearing a white shirt, especially the morning after my soft glow of sunlight behind her hair, all gently tousled the askew was kind of like a clear shorthand that some nookie had taken place.

S31: Right. Right. And that, you know, the guy was a pretty big enough that she, you know, swallowed in his shirts. Right.

S6: You know, but we all know what really happens is you end up just picking up his T-shirt, one of his little grimy t shirts back on the floor or something like that, you know, in his little band t shirts, because how often does a guy actually have his white shirt, like in easy access?

S3: So this is the thing, because the idea is you took it off the night before. Mm hmm.

S5: And so you putting it on the morning after it is a sequence of events, as you’ve so correctly pointed out in this modern day and age, how many men are out here wearing full on shirts? Like when they call me you or you go to me. You know what I mean, right? Yeah. It just doesn’t. Fussible. So this is the first myth that we are busting straight away. Seriously, how many grown men do you know? I kind of like, hey, let me go on this day.


S4: I’m gonna put on a proper fucking dress shirt. Right. And it’s crisp white, like blindingly white.

S6: Right. You know, that’s the only shirt, I guess, in his whole wardrobe that he cleans on a regular basis properly. Right. It’s not just wrinkled and thrown back into the drawer or something.

S18: Exactly. It’s sounds ridiculous.

S33: But what I loved about the piece, this piece on Rock n roll has mentioned is essentially it was asking a very important question for people of a certain generation. But also it was a sort of a history lesson as to why that had become the shorthand that we were all so familiar with in culture. Right. Basically, like, what is this? What is the symbolism of a woman lounging usually in a doorway, sometimes carrying a cup of coffee?

S3: Yes. Right. With a soft, indulgent smile. Hey, wake up, sleepyhead. Right. We all know that. But the question is, how do we know that? And they went down the rabbit hole.

S31: Right. So the author of this article, Sonia Wise There, points out that back in the 1980s, there was a clothing company called Van Heusen that ran an ad for a shirt with a slogan for a man to wear. And a woman to borrow festival.

S3: A festival. Fuck you. I say that with love and affection. I believe my father had several Van Heusen shirts over the years. And if I had known that this was a slogan, I would have burned every last one. But anyway. Sorry, Nicole. Continue.

S4: No, but it’s clear that this is, you know, it’s a man’s shirt and that this design, this commercial was for, you know, since hetero male gays.


S31: Right. Right. Like your shirt is gonna look good on you, but it’s gonna look even better on her.

S7: And you need to get it, because getting this shirt is going to make you know, it’s gonna make you a playboy is gonna it’s gonna you’re gonna have a lot of women trying to put your shirt on if you get this particular style of shirt. You know, cause the eighties.

S31: It’s just a bunch of, you know, leggy white women in these shirts talking to the camera with tousled hair.

S33: Yeah. Some of them are holding like cups of tea. And we actually have a little clip. He’s only a forty second spots anyway, but we’re gonna play a little clip. So you have a feeling of what we’re talking about.

S34: If you think I look good in this van, here’s you should see Jeffrey. After all, it’s his shirt. I bought this shirt from Michael. I think he’s going have a tough time getting it back. When David’s not around. Nothing takes his place. But wearing his van Venusian sure helps is that I could have anything I wanted. So I took it. Van. Here’s an shirt right off his back.

S16: Van Heusen for a man to wear and a woman to borrow.

S33: So I just want to point out the names that came up in that in case you didn’t catch all of them. First there was Jeffrey. Then there was Michael. Then there was David.

S3: And of course, there was Pete. Of course, Peter, listen, all names, good names, et cetera, et cetera. But that’s also the just an amazing roster of white dude names of a very specific type. Like You Be Worrying A Van Heesen and you called Jeffrey, Michael, David or Pizza. You work in the city. It was the 80s. Right? Yeah. So those are kind of yuppie nonsense, right? It’s truly like watching it. Bless those women who I’m sure are very accomplished in many other ways, but they are not good actors. It was hard. Bless everybody but everyone to cover it looks like why? Why am I doing this right now? It just gets me another day. Girls, come on. It’s awful. It’s a truly bad ad, right?


S4: There’s no to shine. Nobody is represented to shine.

S5: Rahul, where’s my draw, Vontae? It was where it’s Carlos holding just a little. Just one about Sunday. It’s like, oh. Wasn’t it his shirt? No, not that. I think it’s a very specifically of the eighth.

S33: You know how you can do like carbon dates. Yeah. This is a very important 1980s relic. God bless everyone.

S4: Just hearing it. You could tell this from the 80s, like without even looking at it, if you just, like, heard it. Yes. Now the article goes on to talk about how men feel like marking their territory is a very important part of sex. Right. And the one way to mark their territory is for women to wear their clothes. Yes.

S33: And, you know, well, there are lots of jokes and lots of means about this. How about, you know, especially. I mean, of course, a lot of this is very hetzer informative. But the whole idea of kind of like, oh, my God is hoodie stealing season. And there’s a lot of talk about how, you know, women love to wear their male partners clothes because, you know, it just kind of is meant to trigger something and blah, blah, blah. And I don’t know how much I believe any of that stuff. I have stolen the hoodie from time to time. That’s just life. Deal with it if you like. Also, it’s just one of those weird things that we’ve kind of just all swallowed wholesale that a woman, when she puts on a man’s clothes, she’s somehow signaling some kind of I’m yours, Ryan, of weird vibe.

S4: Right? It’s incorrect. Sometimes it’s just comfortable. I just want to be very clear. Well, you know what? I will say that in high school and college, I would wear my boyfriend’s shirts like out in public. And people like, why do you have that? Because it will be obviously something that I would not have worn. You know, I you know, it would either be very masculine cut shirt or something like that, because there are different cuts right out for some shirts. Like I remember, I was wearing a polo shirt and it was just like very boxy on me. So I was like, well, where did you get that shirt? Is Cuba? Is that your shirt? I’m like, no, it’s my boyfriend.


S2: Yeah. Okay.

S4: So it was definitely like letting somebody know. You know, it was a signal that I have a boyfriend and this is his shirt and it’s so our relationship is so close that I can wear his clothes out and you’re gonna ask me about it and I will be able to say it’s his.

S33: I get that. I appreciate that. My big thing is kind of like this idea of planting a flag when it’s like the dude kind of going. Yeah, that’s mine. I’m like, you know what?

S2: Actually, it makes my shoulders dones like, excuse me.

S33: So I always feel like it’s very weird when kind of guys it’s like it’s fine for me to enjoy wearing your clothes. Yeah. But the minute a dude is kind of like that looks great. Oh yeah. I’m like, well fuck you with love and affection. Don’t get me wrong. But kind of like, do not put that into my headspace. Yeah. I’m aware what I’m doing. Yeah, but the minute you come in and try and claim some kind of like. Yeah it’s a weird kind of ownership thing. I’m just gonna. It’s fine. We both know. But it’s the declaration of it that makes me feel a little bit kind of Reiji. I’m following you saying you used to wear your boyfriend’s shirt as a little thing. I did it very. Not that thing at all. I really like again, having swallowed the idea that these shirts were, you know, sexy. I remember when my dad would throw out his shirt like my dad was a, you know, a business man. So he wore a lot of like suits here. So he went through shirts in a very big way. And I remember I would go whenever he threw out a shirt, I would take it. I would lovingly wash it and I would wear them. And that, for me, felt good. Again, I was feeling very Diane Keaton myself. And I was like I wore it was a fashion thing. Oh, my God, was that show. And I’d be like, oh, it’s just, you know, just a little thing like my dad, Walter Pinkerton shirts. Yeah. So I would wear. I would. Yeah. I remember very, very like I remember very clearly I any like this kind of really light blue shirts and I would wear it tucked into jeans and I’d wear it with like, you know, a nice, nice brogue. And I in my head, I was like, I’m re taking back sort of androgyny.


S3: You know, when you’re. Yeah. Actually changing the world. Yeah. And I’d be like, oh, absolutely. I going to wear this shirt because, you know, old clothes are good clothes. Yeah. Some such thing as a man’s shirt. Yeah. Of course that’s a full on.

S5: I literally was where you kind of. It’s a mansion. See me. I’m so cool. Like I was like anywhere again specifically it’s like I never have this kind of like Vasari. Yeah. Look at. Yeah. It’s a very weird thing.

S33: So anyway, I love this piece very much because it does more than just like a basic thing. Like here’s the thing. It tells you why that might be a thing. And for better or worse, the white shirts come to signal something weirdly sexy for such a functional piece of fabric.

S4: Yes. And I remember in high school I got one of my grandfather’s white shirts.

S31: I don’t know how. I don’t know how I ended up getting it because he was still alive at the time. So it wasn’t like he had passed it. We were divvying up his stuff or anything. But I got one of his white shirts and it was custom. It was a very thin, you know, almost translucent material. Very good quality. Like it thought it was so soft. No. And I was not taking care of it. I would just wash it with everything else.

S14: You are an idiot child. Yeah. Yeah. Seen those words.

S4: But I remember I would wear it when my boyfriend would come over because it was so sheer and I would stand I wouldn’t have the the living rooms or open and I would stand in front of the TV. Okay. Director, come on. And so it would you know, the light we’re here because obviously this was like during the day we would skip school.


S2: So it was truancy upon truancy.

S4: So it was skip school. Be very bright outside.

S27: And, you know, yeah, I’m setting up the lighting situation so I could stand in front of the TV and the lights hitting me and it would make it sheer. And you could see all of the goodness that you were about to get nasty. And he appreciated that. He really loved that shirt. And I loved it, too.

S35: You know, we’ve over the years at first aid kit, we’ve established the kind of people we used to be, the kind of people we are kind of we may go on to be. And I don’t think a story has ever been more clear about who you are. Then you detailing being both a production designer, a director, the star, a producer of your own short films.

S4: Listen, I was like, this is how I want, you know, this first foray into, you know, exploring my sexuality on a physical level. I wanted to be good.

S21: And again, all those romance novels and all those romcoms, you know, because the 80s was when the rom coms are really like taking off. So seeing these films that are mentioned in this article, I remember seeing them. And, you know, obviously I was susceptible to this programming about the white shirts, even though I didn’t often see black women or other women of color. Right. In those scenarios. But I was like, well, let. And I guess I’ll put my own spin on it.

S33: Exactly. I think it’s really interesting that we have the same time was acknowledging that this has been set up, as, you know, the ideal world kind of knocking it down. And I have a wonderful clip, one of my favorite things. There’s a show that is now dead. And it wasn’t perfect. It was weird. And it was sometimes very bad or it was sometimes whatever. But I I still have a weird soft spot for the show. The Mindy Project. Yes. Yeah. Because Mindy Kaling is complex as a figure.


S2: Yes.

S33: But one of the things I loved about the show was the guy great was absolutely fantastic. He was literally coming at you just every other second. A joke. A joke. A joke. Yeah. And one of the best jokes they ever did was in the first season very early on, I think was episode five. And it’s Mindy and she’s in bed. It’s the morning after she’s with her terrible boyfriend, Josh, who I think everyone who watched that show hated him because Mindy did this thing where she told us these dudes were whole and they you the guy would come into show and you’re like every poll has a. Mindy, I guess. But I have no kitchen.

S2: What what am I looking at anyway? Josh is this guy.

S33: He’s kind of like it turns out he’s like a bad guy for various reasons that, you know, that all emerges. But at this point is the honeymoon period. They’ve gone out. They’ve gone back to hers. And this is the scene when they wake up the next morning again, Josh..

S36: Josh, did we get paid? I’m sorry. It’s nothing. It’s just that I got cold, so I put on your button down. That doesn’t even hit me.

S37: Just take her out now that actually this would good on you. Come on. Yeah. You look like Drew Barrymore. And when those movies I hate don’t come back in bed. You have work back in bed. I have an idea.

S34: How about you both play hooky today? OK.

S38: Yeah. How does it sound? I’ll go out, get us some coffee or science. And when I get back, then sure. Better be back on. OK.


S5: So first of all. Yes. So much information in this. You look like Drew Barrymore, one of those movies. I hate bastard, bastard.

S3: And also, I love that she invoked the name of Drew Barrymore because again, you have an instant image. You’re like, oh, I get it. Drew Barrymore doing her sweet little D’Rivera thing in a doorway, wearing a shirt. It’s perfect. I love also the fact that she’s up ending this stuff like, oh, you know, I’m just the girl.

S5: Shut up. No, it doesn’t. All of that stuff is great.

S33: So what we left with in the clip, he’s going to get some breakfast and with the promise when I get back that ship. But I’d be back on the floor. And then we get in doing Josh. I can’t even believe my life right now.

S39: This is bad. You are a bad influence. I mean, it’s weird having my jeans. Oh, my God. Waste all this. Take this off right now.

S16: This is bizarre. There’s all these jolly ranchers in the pack.

S40: And you were wearing my jeans. Please take them off right now. No, it’s fine. We’re doing the same thing. Now we’re in my shirt. I’m wearing your jeans. No, no, it is not the same. OK. This is adorable. That is like a lap band surgery at a room in the back. Oh, my God, John. Hey, what kind of coffee do you want?

S39: I want you to go to work and I want you to take your team shirt. OK.

S40: This took a turn. Are you still here? Yeah. Can I my tie, please? Read your tie.


S3: And you know, what I absolutely love about that is just how quickly. It just kind of turned. Yes. Because it’s sexy for a woman to wear a man’s clothing. But the reverse is instant jokes is instant lol’s.

S31: Right. Yeah. Because then it’s like we get to see that he can actually fit her jeans right. In a particular way that makes her feel uncomfortable about her body.

S4: And then she’s like ruins like the whole, you know, sexy romantic vibe is gone. Right. You know, it’s a little fat, both fat phobic. But, you know. Yeah, I understand what she was trying to say.

S3: The thing is, what I love about that joke really is this kind of like it just builds up how we construct the nonsense. Or I look, she has to wake him up so that he sees her. Yeah. He’s the one who introduces Gambia’s wearing his shirts. You know, just get a little comb. There are all these little kind of like what everything is. Everything requires labor requires effort. And so after you’ve been told the notes, it’s just, you know, like you were saying before, the you know, you’re beautiful. I’m like, no, she had to wake up. And brush has just so and put an end to all the images we saw of those women wearing white shirts, like you said, moving through a loft like space.

S5: It takes so much work. And I just I love Mindy for just kind of going, hey, hey, here’s a weird little fucking trip that we’ve been carrying for years. Allow me to bust it. And I love that scene so much.

S10: She has one of my favorite scenes, too.


S33: There’s another great scene. In a popular culture of a woman wearing a man’s white shirts the morning often, but also in this case it’s slightly also the night of. They’ve gone to an adventure. I’m talking, of course, about the classic rom com.

S5: What’s your number? Starring Anna fiRies and friend of the show, Chris Evans.

S4: Yes. It’s such a how do you feel about the movie is whatever. It’s a fine movie. But in this in this scene, they have gone throughout the city. It takes place in Boston and they have gone throughout the city. You know, having some little couple adventures, even though they’re not a couple at this time. Right. They’re still having some tension a little bit. Hence their friends across the hall. Yeah. And he’s clearly filling her. She hasn’t made it there yet anyway. So they go and they’re doing all the stuff. They play basketball. They play one on one. They play a game that they’ve made up called Strip Horse.

S7: All right.

S31: And then they leave there because they’re about to get cards and they go and they jump in the harbor. So they’re wet. And she puts on his shirt because he just happens to have on a white shirt at the time.

S5: This Azraq Chekhov’s white shirt. Yeah. It hasn’t won a white shirt. No.

S27: The whole movie, he’s either shirtless are in band t shirts or something, but suddenly he’s in a white button down for whatever reason.

S31: So when they go back to her apartment, she’s in his shirt and she’s, you know, milling around trying to like get dressed or whatever. And he is in the kitchen and he comes out of the kitchen and he sees her standing again in in this door sill in the doorway.


S27: Can I just ask Director Perkins? Yes. Can you tell us the composition of that scene again? Yes. OK. So she is standing in the lights and then it framed by the doorway into her bedroom before. That wasn’t a metaphorical. Yeah.

S6: And he looks at her and his face kind of goes slack like he’s just now seeing her for the first time, even though they’ve clearly gone across town together dressed like this. But suddenly, suddenly he’s like, oh, she’s beautiful and amazing because he’s seeing her in his shirt’s bare legs.

S3: It’s such a it’s basically the moment in the makeover scene when the guy takes off her glasses, her hair falls down and he’s like, oh, my God, you’re beautiful. She’s just wearing glasses.

S2: She’s just wearing your shirt. All the fuck down.

S33: But I love the detail that united about his face going slack like it’s meant to kind of like clearly the idea is this is eliciting some feelings and.

S11: Yes. Right. Yes. And then, you know, he walks up to her and, you know, they flirt very it’s a very sexy moment. It’s a very sexy movie.

S3: Weirdly enough, oral like the weird comedy. It’s very sexy book, prison aneffort nailing that particular thing. But yeah, he starts to unbutton the shirt. It’s potent for a reason.

S2: Oh, yes. I want him to do more of that. Yeah. So I really love that scene.

S33: And I think ultimately, like we do on Thursday, Kate, we’re asking you to kind of ask the question why?

S4: Why? And for me, you know, as I got older getting, you know, a man getting into my man’s dress shirt or even more just as regular shirts, because I like the skinny guys, you know, and they’re in, you know, extra s- medium shirts and stuff like that. And sometimes they would fit and sometimes they didn’t. But it would that when it got to the point where a lot of times their shirts didn’t look like the way they were supposed to look. You know, the way that the romcoms were telling me are the music videos were telling me that being in your man’s shirt is supposed to look high. I was like, I start to think about that. Like, what does that mean? You know, of course, you know, I went down a little tumble of body image, but then I was just like, but I’m wearing it. Not to show, oh, I’m so girly and you’re so big. I’m wearing it because I want to smell. You are because I want to think of view or something like that. So, yeah, you do have to kind of like sit there and break down. What is it about putting on a man’s clothes? That’s supposed to make us feel this way versus that way, all that kind of stuff. It’s definitely worth examining.


S33: It is. And I like the little point you just made there about the idea of why it a lot of the times so much of what we do that we kind of like us. We ascribe a certain meaning to sometimes when you really look into it. Essentially, we’re looking at intimacy. Yeah. You know, like if I’m putting on your clothes, then it’s because I feel close to you.

S3: Yeah. Right. Yeah. And I think that’s that’s I think that sounds so fucking off the school special. You know, the real the real white shirt is the friends and intimacy we made along the way. But really and truly that is kind of the core of putting on this what I was to watch it. As we’ve said, for all the various reasons, it suggests effort. It feels kind of, you know, expensive but simple. It has all these connotations in society and whatever. But what? Boils down to is if I’m putting on your shirt because I want you to look at me and kind of be like, ha, that is my person. Yes. And I think never underestimate the place of intimacy in what we consider to be sexy, both individually and as a collective in culture. Right. Because what we’re trying to do essentially is replicate a feeling of safety and comfort and care and sometimes ease of access. So a white shirt, it’s all of those things. And that is why it is a weirdly premium hot item of first.