There are times when it seems the Hollywood train to stardom is moving so fast that success is often an overnight phenomenon. However, the reality of the matter is it takes lots of hard work. Actress Edwina Findley has been turning in one quality offering and another ever since she appeared in the hit television series The Wire. Since then her professional resume has run the gamut of the creative spectrum. From the Ava DuVernay-directed film Middle of Nowhere to HBO drama Treme, and even comedies like "VEEP," Edwina has been putting in major work over the years. She stars alongside Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell in the new buddy comedy Get Hard. The Shadow League was able to sit down and see exactly what it was like for Edwina to be featured prominently among such A-list comedic talent in her first big budget picture.
Edwina Findley: It was so exciting. It was really hilarious, behind the scenes just trying to keep a straight face with those hilarious comedians. Actually, how it came about is, I was working with Julia Louis Dreyfus called VEEP. The same casting director from "VEEP" brought me in for "VEEP" and thought we would be really good for this. So, I had an audition with all the creators and producers. Most of them were from Will Ferrell’s company Gary Sanchez. Also, the director Larry Cohen. It went great and afterwards I literally left town to work on a movie down in Memphis. Maybe a month or two later, I received a call and it was like ‘You’ve got the part.’ And I was like ‘What part?’ because it had been so long. He was like ‘The part in ‘Get Hard’ and I was like ‘No.’ I was just laughing out loud. My husband was like ‘What is going on up there?’ I was like you gotta read the script. I had a great time.
Ricardo A. Hazell: Tell us about your role and how it came about.
EF: “My character’s name is Rita Lewis and, of course, she’s Kevin Hart’s character’s wife. We have a loving marriage, but there’s definitely that Yin and Yang situation going on. So, he comes up with these crazy ideas and antics and I’m the one who really brings that into reality. As he starts to floating up and I try to snatch him down like ‘Listen, we still live in the real world.’ We have this dream of being able to buy a house, we’re used to struggling and it’s hard for us to get ahead. So, he comes up with this crazy scheme to teach Will Ferrell’s character how to get hard for prison. He has a hard time trying to get me to believe that this was the path to our prosperity.”
RH: Buddy comedies thrive by using contrasting personalities to drive comedic conflict. What was it like for you observing Ferrell and Hart’s portrayal of this time honored formula?
EF: “It’s a story of these two different worlds. One world where Will Ferrell’s character is extremely wealthy and not wanting for anything, contrasting with Kevin and my world where, we’re great people but we’re struggling to get ahead and just try to examine the values on the two different sides and try to examine the values on both sides as well as some of the prejudices we can make when we’re on both sides of the fence. I think it’s really wonderful seeing both of these things intersect in a wonderful way.”
RH: From the very beginning, you have had a steady string of roles on critically acclaimed cinematic offerings. What has the journey been like?
EF: It’s definitely something that I am very grateful for. My first TV show out of college was The Wire on HBO. Just being with David Simon, who was the writer and director, and Wendell Pierce and Michael K. Williams. Dominic West, who just won a Golden Globe. That was right after getting out of NYU and they welcomed me with open arms. I went from there to a lot of TV shows, and they welcomed me with open arms. A lot of theater, really. That’s my background. Then, reuniting with David Simon again on Treme on HBO.
“I actually flew over to Europe in Prague and in Brussels filming George Lucas’ Red Tails,” she continued. “At the end of the day the African American film characters ended up getting cut out of the movie. It was myself and Jazmine Sullivan. We spent almost a month in Prague and in Croatia with Terrence Howard, and Michael B. Williams from The Wire. David Oyelowo, and we worked together before during Middle of Nowhere. It’s really been a steady journey.”
“Then, Kevin, Will, Julia Louis Dreyfus and that whole comic world, and all of that. It really is wonderful. I am an artist who enjoys challenges and I also enjoy different genres. Whether it’s musical theater, comedy, Shakespeare. Now, to be in this film space and studio space, it’s different from doing an independent film. This is my first big studio movie, which is exciting. So, I definitely feel that I am on this great journey and I feel very blessed.”
RH: It looks like this might be a break out year for you career wise. What else can we expect to see from you next?
EF: The second season for ‘If Love You Is Wrong” airs. That’s Tuesday night at 9pm. Also, I have another movie coming out called Free Indeed. It’s probably the complete opposite of Get Hard. It’s a very intense drama. It’s based on a true story of a young woman who has two children, the oldest of which has autism. She’s doing everything to try to find healing for her child. Then, there’s one other movie I recently shot ‘Where Children Play’. I believe that’s coming out some time this year as well. So, it’s definitely been a really good year. We go back to shooting ‘If Loving You is Wrong’ season 2 in May. That would come out at the end of the year. Probably in the fall. So, yeah, there’s definitely a lot of great stuff going on.
RH: In addition to your big screen offerings, are there any other projects you’re working on?
EF: I have an organization called Abundant Life U. We’re launching a school for artists here in Los Angeles. The school launches April 18 with a program called Artists CEO. We’re really trying to help the artist see, not just the craft side of the industry, but being able to run themselves as a business and as an artist CEO. You are the CEO of you and your art. That’s a five week course starting on April 18. We’re really excited about that too.
“Our motto is No More Starving Artists. Here in L.A. we have people that are homeless that are sleeping in cars, sleeping on couches. I went to NYU and a lot of my friends went to Julliard, Columbia, some great schools. But, you don’t always learn how to manage a business. Essentially, an artists is an entrepreneur. That’s one of the things that I loved most about being on the set with Kevin Hart. As soon as Anton yelled ‘Cut!’ he was off in the corner handling multiple business ventures. From producing, starring in other projects, writing, and that’s really what it’s about. I think a lot of artists just have never been taught that. I’m just the type of person where, if I see a need I try to meet it to the best of my ability.”
You can catch Edwina Findley alongside Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell in Get Hard. It premieres nationwide today, Friday, March 27. If you want to learn more about Abundant Life U log on to www.edwinafindley.com. Follow her on Twitter @EdwinaFindley.