I just want to bow down. You are just killing it!
Reg E. Cathey: Thank you. I appreciate it.
I mean, everything you do, from House of Cards to Fantastic Four. You’re just killing at everything!
Reg E. Cathey: Oh, thank you, man!
Talk about how you pick a role.
Reg E. Cathey: That’s interesting, man. I pick a role when they pick me. You know, you go to an audition and if you addition for 10 things and you get 3, that’s good. This was one of the few times when George called me up and he said, “Do you want to do this?” And I was, “Of course!” The pitching a role thing, man, that’s deep. I remember when I first started, when I first became a professional actor, you wouldn’t play a “coon” part. You would not play something that-
It might set you back.
Reg E. Cathey: That was going to put the black community in a certain light. And then it sort of changed, and the industry changed, and America changed. So now I still don’t want to pick a role where it’s going to be a “coon” show. But when you’re broke, and the legend of the rent is truly hard-core, as they say, what do you do? And there’s this thing that goes against your own personal standards. Do you say, “No, I’m not going audition for that?” Or do you say, “Let me audition for that because I need this money, I need this healthcare, I need this health insurance”?
Definitely the healthcare.
Reg E. Cathey: You know, to get your health insurance you need to have certain amount of weeks. Right. So it’s a question that I’ve always felt that it’s not an easy answer. Basically, though, for this long answer … it’s easier when George Wolfe calls you.
Right, and you’ve got George Wolfe, you’ve got Oprah attached. It’s kind of easy to say, “Where? When?”
Reg E. Cathey: Where? Exactly.
And “how long?”
Reg E. Cathey: Exactly.
Tell me why this story is so important for us all to know and see.
Reg E. Cathey: Well, in the privilege of where we were, and still are, to some extent, of someone being able to come into your body and take your cells and not tell anybody the tragedy of that, that theft. More than just her cells were stolen, but her legacy, and the family’s legacy. And for all those years, no one knew. That is a sin. That’s a sin. So the story should be told just for that. But then the story should be told for the joy that comes from discovery … So the joy of education then comes in. So the story is about- learn about yourself. Learn about your people, and then see if that lifts your spirit. It’s not just about bio-engineering and black people finally getting their due. It’s about what one can do with a little bit of faith, with a little bit of hope, and with some love.
Reg E. Cathey: Right.