Keshia Knight Pulliam, who played Rudy, the littlest child on The Cosby Show and now plays Miranda on Tyler Perry’s House of Payne, stars in Perry’s latest film, “Madea Goes to Jail.” I was thrilled to get a chance to interview her about the movie.
What can you tell me about working with Tyler Perry?
It’s wonderful! I’ve worked with him in “House of Payne.” He has everything at once — drama, comedy, romance, and it is so classic, so funny, and such comic relief. That’s what real life is — comedy, suspense, romance, all at together. Tyler has a formula of his own and proved that he could create his own genre. He is so honest and so true to life.
Is it like working with Bill Cosby?
Mr. Cosby is hilarious and wonderful. Like Tyler, he did it all — producing, writing, everything. Mr. Cosby gave all of us the foundation of being a great actor. He taught us about comedy, honesty, a work ethic, professionalism. A lot of people don’t learn at such a young age, and I am glad I did and did not have to correct bad habits later on.
Tell me about the character you play in this film.
I play Candy, a heroin addict and prostitute, who meets Madea [played by writer/director Perry] in jail. Her arc is very much about someone who has made choices but they don’t define her. She has to learn to take ownership of her choices. Madea comes to her rescue and she learns to stop being a victim. Madea says things others are thinking but might not say, and Candy needs to hear them.
This character allowed me to do something out of the box and it stretched me as an actress. To prepare for the role I did research and I spoke to someone who had similar experiences and turned her life around. But I think most people can identify with the feelings of desperation. Even if you haven’t had the experience, you can correlate your own history with the character and understand that the behavior can be a symptom of a greater issue and a greater cause.
What are you working on now?
I’ve started a production company. I’d like to do it all and studied at Spellman so I could have the skills to produce as well as act, maybe direct, too.
What was it like to co-star with Derek Luke?
He is a tremendous talent, someone really willing to give it to you. He completely embodies the character and that gave me so much to respond to. I would love to work with him again.
What do you hope people will take from this movie?
I hope they enjoy it and come away thinking that the characters are not “those people” but people who struggle they way they do and have the same challenges they do. Everybody struggles with those demons. And I hope they like my work in it!