Uzo Aduba on history and her character Vicky in American Pastoral
Throughout the week, We Live Entertainment will be posting a series of articles about American Pastoral leading up to the film’s release this Friday. Each article will focus on one of the stars of the film. There will be a single article dedicated to Jennifer Connelly, Dakota Fanning, Uzo Aduba, and Valorie Curry while star/director Ewan McGregor will be featured in two articles as American Pastoral is his baby after all.
Uzo Aduba, best known for her role as Crazy Eyes on Orange is the New Black plays Vicky in American Pastoral. Vicky works for Seymour (Ewan McGregor) and his father Lou (Peter Riegert) in their glove factory in Newark, NJ. Vicky is a strong female who isn’t afraid to take charge. She has no problem to share her thoughts with her bosses while remaining strong and confident leader around the factory.
Ever since the first season of Orange is the New Black, I have become a big fan of Aduba. My hope was that after starring in a hit television series, doors would open for her and bring her more meaty roles. Luckily for Aduba, my hunch was right as she was part of two feature film projects in 2016. She played Detective Kinnie in Netflix’s Tallulah and now, Vicky in American Pastoral.
When I asked Aduba about what drew her to roles, being a woman of color, and playing strong characters, she had a lot to say.
“I have always been interested in history. I would layer that by saying I’ve always been interested in how we account for history.
I think there’s something to be said about this period right now which I am actually excited by, where we’ve sort of started combing back over history, and authentically retelling it – those stories, which I don’t think we’ve always done in the past and aren’t specific just to cinema.
So, when I was reading this script, I found it fascinating that the story and book by Philip Roth novel were really interesting as they were this deconstruction of what we have may be painted or often looked at as sort of this Rockwellian era of our nation and sort of delved deeper into that portrait and see that things were always unraveling. That when 1968 and 1972 those years didn’t just happen. There were always things sort of working up to that moment and I think it’s powerful when you hear conversations whether it’s the Levov family talking about sale of the business, or the handing over the business from father to son to Mary in the kitchen and watching LBJ on the television and it didn’t just happen. That spark was always ready to explode at some point. That was what drew me to it.
I think it was interesting as an artist. I am very interested in the stories of the missing; that’s what I often call it. I feel like the missing voices, the missing stories. I was really fascinated in this. It all felt like an abstraction when I was reading it. An abstract way of telling the story of what I call this “Inspired Generation.” We’re looking at an inspired generation right now in our culture, and they are not the first. They are one of many generations that have felt the need or answered the call to action and have executed in various ways, and I see this film as being a reflection of that as well. There’s this generation. There was a generation also of the 60s who felt, the 60s and the 70s, who felt oppressed, who felt their hands tied, who felt like they were being given their time or their voice, or felt like they needed to do something, or what they did or however they acted is not necessarily always right, but you could see in their actions the frustration and feel the climate of our country, and that was exciting to me when I read that.
So often, I think, we can see people in these roles that we so quickly might dismiss as being subservient or quiet. That’s not to suggest that those people did not exist, right? But, I don’t think we also don’t give the full impact of voice to those who weren’t afraid despite their understood position weren’t afraid to use their voices. That’s what I really loved about Vickie that she doesn’t technically own the factory, but she’s the boss…she’s still the boss. And though we see…we see glimpses of her throughout what I loved about her, and I was motivated to take the part every single time we do see her, she is not afraid. That explained to me how a march on Selma happens; how a Montgomery bus boycott; how the “I Will Have a Dream” meeting at the Lincoln Memorial happens because there were fearless people from that time. I was excited to see someone on full display in possession of herself, and that was exciting to me.
I guess I would say, or I hope I would say I am not afraid to speak my mind to my betterment or determent, and that might be an element of myself. I understood that, and I wanted to represent that well.
American Pastoral opens in limited release on Friday, October 21, 2016 with a wide expansion planned for Friday, October 28, 2016. Be sure to check the film out for yourself and come back to We Live Entertainment and let us know your thoughts on the film. If interested, you can even join and partake in our Gradebook where we allow staff and fans of We Live Entertainment to be part of our own review roundup. You can be part of the Gradebook by joining our fan page on Facebook right here.