Martin told Ejogo that many people described Mrs. King as a “rose in a fisted glove” and in “Selma” there were moments when Ejongo had to be tough in her portrayal of Mrs. King and then fallback into a softer role when filming scenes with David Oyelowo, who played Dr. King.
Ejogo immediately said, “Oh, that’s perfect,” in response to the description of Mrs. King being that delicate and yet at the same time so strong. “I got to play Coretta as she was in 1955, in a production called “Boycott” for HBO, and I feel like in some ways as a couple they were still quite naive and they had just been thrust into the position of leadership and so there was something a little less guarded about her at that point in her life.”
“One of the challenges that I was excited by and one of the things that made me curious about playing this role again for the second time,” continued Ejogo, was the fact that the fisted glove started to really emerge and become quite stiff around what was clearly a beautifully deep, bright woman that was living under that.”
Ejogo said two things helped her prepare to play the role of Mrs. King in “Selma.” One was some raw footage that she and Oyelowo discovered.
Ejogo said the discovery of this footage was “fantastic” because it shows “Coretta right before the camera starts rolling on various interviews and it’s in those moments you really get to see who somebody really is.”
Her secondary, and probably most important source of inspiration, came from Coretta Scott King herself. Ejogo said she got to spend some time with Mrs. King not long before she passed away. Ejogo explained that Mrs. King “loved” her performance in HBO’s “Boycott” and that spending some time with her was “another little insight” into who iconic matriarch and leader truly was.
Watch Carmen Ejogo and “NewsOne Now” host Roland Martin discuss “Selma,” directed by Ava DuVernay in the video clip above. Make sure you support the movie which opens nationwide on January 9, 2015.
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