Last year, Aunjanue Ellis received a surprising and well deserved Emmy nomination for Netflix’s When They See Us. The nomination served as a recognition of her decades-long acclaimed work in film and television, and it capped a culturally important and life-changing experience working with Ava DuVernay on the limited series.
Ellis built on that opportunity with another acclaimed lead role in Lifetime’s The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel. She stars as Dr. Mattie Moss Clark, the mother and mentor of five gifted young women who went on to help spread gospel music into the mainstream. When the film premiered last April, audiences swarmed to the project and discussed it in huge numbers on social media. It was initially viewed by nearly 3 million people – the highest rating for any Lifetime TV movie in four years.
Here, Aunjanue Ellis joins the Water Cooler Podcast to talk about her experience and performance in The Clark Sisters: First Ladies of Gospel. It’s an enlightening conversation in which she talks about unknowingly building up to this moment to play Dr. Clark since childhood. She also talks about the inspiration of Dr. Clark and her self-determined path to success, something that speaks to the wider community of Black American women. Finally, she also previews her experience on HBO’s Lovecraft Country and reveals not even she knows what to expect from the upcoming mystery.
And don’t miss her story about making a list of the five things she never thought she’d do – one of which was work with Ava DuVernay before being cast in When They See Us.