black women

Naomie Harris Explains Why She Was Skeptical About Playing A Crackhead in New Film

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BY: NISHA THOMAS

There was only one thing that Naomie Harris was always sketchy about doing.

Even though the British actress’ resume is well-endowed, complete with two James Bond films and so much more, she openly admits that she’d made it plain for several years that there were some roles that she just wasn’t willing to take.

“I set out my career thinking that there were enough stereotypes about black women, so I wanted to make a difference in this arena,” Harris recently told IndieWire. “The only area where I have power is in the roles I choose, so I want to portray progressive images of women.”

And this position that she took only boiled down to one no-go: “I drew the line at crack addiction. I’m not going to play a crack addict.” As she recounted the story, Harris couldn’t help but laugh when she got to the kicker. “Life is so amazing, because whenever you say ‘I’m not going to do that,’ or draw a line in the sand, life comes and tests you,” she said.

For Harris this test only came in the form of Barry Jenkins’ film ‘Moonlight,’ which offered her a leading role as a mother, who is multi-faceted and has many troubles to spare, including her demonic crack addiction. Even she was admittedly struck by the script for the motion picture, however, she wasn’t sure if she was ready to go back on the pact that she’d made to herself.

Jenkins, on the other hand, soon put her tears to rest, contextualizing the part of Paula in many ways that Harris might be able to find as irresistible, both from a personal and professional perspective.

Naomie Harris in "Moonlight"

“He said to me, ‘Look, Naomie, I don’t want to ask you to play yet another crack addict,’” she said, recalling their first conversation. “‘But the reality is that this is my mom’s story. This is Tyrell’s mom’s story. Do we just pretend that this didn’t happen? Do we ignore huge swathes of society that are suffering from addiction? We have to tell their story and to tell it compassionately and truthfully.’”

Harris admitted that she was hooked, as well as determined to search for and find the reality and truth at the core of this role.

“I think what happens too often when stories of addiction come up is that they are dismissed as the addiction and that’s all that you see is the addiction and that’s all that they are,” she said. “But we’re much more complex than that as human beings. I was excited by the opportunity to show the layers and complexity of someone with addiction.”

To read more of what Harris had to say, click here

So, what are your thoughts? Do you think that Harris should have taken this role? Comment below.

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