When Gillian Waters hit’s Hollywood looking for work, her resume includes three key elements: Beauty, Brains and Talent. Inside her 5’7” physique is a strong, feisty and determined Irish African American Blackfoot Indian. It’s these characteristics that Waters attributes her motivation to push the envelope as an actress.|
It’s no surprise that the Pasadena native came off her hiatus and onto the IMDb’s top thirty Black Actor’s list. The Howard alum first got her feet wet behind the camera in music videos. Waters appeared as LL Cool J’s love interest in “Hey Lover” ft. Boyz II Men. Then was asked tango with Dr. Dre in “Been There, Done That.”
After that, the shining star turned into a shooting star as she worked consistently landing roles in film, television and commercials. The multi-faceted actress made us laugh on Martin, The Parkers and My Wife and Kids. Waters got physical in Xena: Warrior Princess, displaying her athleticism as an amazon warrior. She impressed us with her ability to be dramatic with roles on Ghost Whisperer and Pensacola: Wings of Gold. Her recurring role as the beautiful, blackmailing China Lee stole the show on “Days of Our Lives.”
Not many actors can say that they worked with Spike Lee (Bamboozled) and toted a gun in Quentin Tarantino’s, Jackie Brown. With her career in full throttle, Waters decided to start a family. It’s hard for actors to make a comeback after being off camera for a period of time. I chit- chatted with the proud mother of two, who has flown under Hollywood’s radar for a while to raise her family.
Although she’d a bit older and wiser, I asked her if she still has any daredevil in her and could we look forward to her sliding down buildings in films like she did when she slid down the side of a hotel on the TV show “Fear Factor.” The versatile and accomplished actress shared some of her experience with Vertikal Magazine about her career, TV, movies and upcoming projects.
Tell me about your first experience in Television?
I was so green when I came into the business. I was inexperienced. The first audition that I was sent out on was The Martin Lawrence show. It was huge because Martin was one of the hottest TV shows at the time. I said to myself that I have to get this role. I thought what could I do to stand out. The scene was Cole and I. I was suppose to be appalled by how disgusting he kept is apartment. I went into the audition with a bag of trash and poured it on the floor. You don’t do that in an audition, but I didn’t know that.
I made the entire room messy to do the scene. Afterwards, I felt uncomfortable cleaning up all the trash because of the way the producers were looking at me. I was driving home. My agent called me and said, ”What did you do in that audition.” I said, “What do you mean.” He said. “ The cast director was livid. She said she would never work with you again. You can’t do stuff like that.” I paused thinking my career was over before it started. Then he said, “By the way, you got the part.”
What is your position on T.V.?
There are some good shows out there like “Read Between the Lines “(BET) on TV today. TV today is very cookie cutter and is based loosely around other shows. There is a lot of creativity missing in the industry right now. Most shows are recycled. They have ideas from old shows renewed with fresh faces. I know there is a lot of creativity out there.
What is your position on Black Hollywood?
This is the problem I see. I’m talking about Black Hollywood. Black Hollywood is afraid of taking chances and it’s disheartening. Hollywood recycles the same roles in the same types of films. There are so many talented individuals out here. They just don’t get a chance. Our industry is afraid of taking chances.
Do you think the Motion Picture Industry will change and create a platform for up and coming Black actors?
In this industry, if it isn’t black related, Hollywood will cast someone new in a 10 million dollar-budget film in a heartbeat. I think that until we see a change, the industry will remain the same.
What types of roles would you like to see a Black woman play?
I would see Black women with larger roles in action films. You don’t see a lot see a lot of Black women playing those kinds of roles. Like Zoe Saldana in Columbiana. It’s the first time I’ve seen a Black woman play those kinds of roles. I thought that was a great concept to have her play in. Usually that role would have been given to a white woman. I want to see more roles like that for Black women. Roles where Black women are empowered, not victims. I would like to see a Black women play a president.
So you have added a new dimension to your talents. You are writing now?
I have been writing my whole life. I love to write. I have a heck of an imagination. I know how to make things real. It’s actually more exciting than acting because I can write from my own point of view. I ever get to cast myself in something. I know I can do it, because I wrote it.
Do you take the same approach, pushing the envelop as a writer like you did when you first broke into the industry as an actress?
I think you have to retain a sense of gutsiness in a way that you want to go in, no matter what. I think that directors and casting directors appreciate that.
How do you think not working for a number of years will affect you?
I haven’t lost it. I’m older but I haven’t lost my looks. I’m trying to make a huge comeback right now. I’m not a new face, but I have to create my own stuff. I have to take that chance. I have to write material and cast myself in it. That’s one of the ways I can make things happen. I have to come back out. I have a lot to say. Waters latest projects include a co-starring role in the indie film “Sister’s Keeper,” starring Eric Roberts and “Back Then,” starring Malinda Williams.
Waters is currently working on her first dramatic television pilot as well as a children’s novel.
Photos by William Pitts Photography