Phylicia Rashad

Actress


The Academy of Television Arts & Sciences Foundation Presents

02:26

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About
About this interview

On working with Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show, Phylicia Rashad recalls: "It was just beautiful from the beginning. Bill gave us the greatest instruction. He said, 'do not try to be funny, just tell the story.'" Phylicia Rashad played opposite Bill Cosby on both The Cosby Show and Cosby and received her third Primetime Emmy nomination for the TV movie A Raisin in the Sun. In her two-hour Archive interview, Rashad recounts childhood memories growing up in Houston, Texas and in Mexico City, Mexico. She describes her parents and acknowledges the accomplishments of her mother, poet Vivian Ayers. She vividly recalls when she decided to be an actress, after the attention she received (and her later understanding of "the beauty of communication from the heart,") following a reading at a local music festival. She notes her studies at Howard University and the start of her acting career in New York City. She acknowledges her work on Broadway and how she briefly became a regular on the daytime television serial One Life to Live. She speaks in great detail about the role and series for which she is most associated, "Claire Huxtable" on The Cosby Show. Regarding The Cosby Show, she talks about auditioning for the part, describes her character, discusses working with Bill Cosby (and the cast) and outlines a typical work-week on the series. Regarding Bill Cosby's penchant for ad-libbing, she explains: "You had to be able to follow him. You had to be able to dance with him. Because he was very spontaneous. And there would be some great, marvelous stuff that could not have been written." She then talks about her work in the spin-off series A Different World. She recounts working on the subsequent series Cosby and gives her impressions of her co-stars, particularly Madeline Kahn. She comments on some of her later work, including the television movie A Raisin in the Sun, for which she reprised her Tony Award-winning role. Jim Colucci conducted the interview in New York, NY on October 22, 2007.

"I had learned to stop focusing so much on what I thought other people were thinking.  And to really try to find some level of truth inside myself in every moment of what I was doing."

Interviewee(s)
Highlights
Phylicia Rashad about her interaction with fans of The Cosby Show, including Nelson Mandela who informed her that he watched it while incarcerated at Robben Island Prison
Phylicia Rashad on living in Mexico City, Mexico during her childhood
Phylicia Rashad on a reading she did at a local music festival that inspired her to become an actress
Phylicia Rashad on her approach to acting
Phylicia Rashad on her character from A Raisin in the Sun, "Lena Younger"
Phylicia Rashad on her advice to aspiring actors
Full Interview

Chapter 1

On her background, parents; on her mother shielding her from racism; on living in Mexico City, Mexico
On her siblings; on the movies and television shows she grew up watching; on the moment she decided to pursue acting
On her studies at Howard University

Chapter 2

On theater work in New York City following her studies; on appearing as a regular on One Life to Live; on her approach to acting
Getting cast on The Cosby Show; on working with the young ensemble; on shooting the various opening credits sequences
On Bill Cosby and the sensibilities he brought to The Cosby Show; on her character on The Cosby Show, "Claire Huxtable"

Chapter 3

On the evolution of her character "Claire Huxtable"; on how The Cosby Show reflected reality; on the production workweek; on Bill Cosby's penchant for ad-libbing; on Cosby's work ethic
On favorite moments from The Cosby Show for her and the show's fans; on why The Cosby Show was so popular; on the final moments of shooting
On Bill Cosby's relationship with his real life wife; on Cosby Show spin-off A Different World; on working with her sister actress-choreographer-director Debbie Allen

Chapter 4

On The Cosby Show cast members; on hiding her real life pregnancy on the show
On the later Cosby series; on the series' characters; on Cosby co-star Madeline Kahn and the rest of the ensemble; on the end of Cosby
On the television movie A Raisin in the Sun and winning the Tony Award for the stage revival; on her character from A Raisin in the Sun , "Lena Younger"

Chapter 5

On her acting style; on the depiction of African-Americans on current television; on her advice to aspiring actors; on being a director
Shows

Cosby

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Phylicia Rashad on joining the cast of Cosby on a moment's notice
Phylicia Rashad on the characters from Cosby
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby co-star Madeline Kahn
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby co-star T'Keyah Crystal Keymah
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby co-star Doug E. Doug
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby co-star Jurnee Smollett
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby's end
Phylicia Rashad on her favorite show from Cosby

Cosby Show, The

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Phylicia Rashad on her audition for The Cosby Show, and what Cosby saw in her
Phylicia Rashad on the final auditioning process for The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on the instruction Bill Cosby gave the cast at the beginning of The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on working with the young cast of The Cosby Show
Phylica Rashad on the various opening credit sequences of The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's spontaneity and how he and more-structured director Jay Sandrich had to find a middle ground on The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's sensibilities regarding the writing and character portrayals on The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on her Cosby Show character "Claire Huxtable" and the extended family dynamic
Phylicia Rashad on the evolution of her character "Claire Huxtable" on The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on how The Cosby Show reflected reality
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner and how the cast was buffered from the business side of the show
Phylicia Rashad on a production workweek on The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's ad-libbing on The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on the calm of the set on The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's work ethic
Phylicia Rashad on favorite moments/ guest stars from The Cosby Show episodes
Phylicia Rashad on fan favorite episodes from The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad about her interaction with fans of The Cosby Show, including Nelson Mandela who informed her that he watched it while incarcerated at Robben Island Prison
Phylicia Rashad to why The Cosby Show was so popular
Phylicia Rashad on where The Cosby Show's "Cliff and Claire Huxtable" would be today
Phylicia Rashad on the final moments of taping of The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's real life relationship with his wife
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show co-star Malcolm-Jamal Warner
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show co-star Lisa Bonet
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show co-star Sabrina Le Beauf
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show co-star Tempestt Bledsoe
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show co-star Keshia Knight Pulliam
Phylicia Rashad on hiding her real life pregnancy on The Cosby Show

Different World, A

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Phylicia Rashad on The Cosby Show spin-off A Different World

Everybody Loves Raymond

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Phylicia Rashad on how Cosby was used to promote other shows on the network, such as The King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond

King of Queens, The

View Show Page
Phylicia Rashad on how Cosby was used to promote other shows on the network, such as The King of Queens and Everybody Loves Raymond

One Life to Live

View Show Page
Phylicia Rashad on auditioning for One Life to Live
Phylicia Rashad on her role as "Courtney Wright" on One Life to Live in the early 1980s, and how character Asa Buchanan (played by Philip Carey) appeared to have been married at some point to every character but her's

Raisin in the Sun, A

View Show Page
Phylicia Rashad on the television movie A Raisin in the Sun and winning the Tony Award for the stage revival
Phylicia Rashad on her character from A Raisin in the Sun, "Lena Younger"
Topics

Comedy

View Topic
Phylicia Rashad on favorite moments/ guest stars from The Cosby Show episodes
Phylicia Rashad on fan favorite episodes from The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on the final moments of taping of The Cosby Show

Minorities

View Topic
Phylicia Rashad on her role as "Courtney Wright" on One Life to Live in the early 1980s, and how character Asa Buchanan (played by Philip Carey) appeared to have been married at some point to every character but her's
Phylicia Rashad on how The Cosby Show reflected reality

We Considered

View Topic
Phylicia Rashad about her interaction with fans of The Cosby Show, including Nelson Mandela who informed her that he watched it while incarcerated at Robben Island Prison

We Laughed

View Topic
Phylicia Rashad to why The Cosby Show was so popular
Professions

Actress

View Profession
Phylicia Rashad on a reading she did at a local music festival that inspired her to become an actress
Phylicia Rashad on her approach to acting
Phylicia Rashad on the instruction Bill Cosby gave the cast at the beginning of The Cosby Show
Genres

Comedy Series

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Phylicia Rashad about her interaction with fans of The Cosby Show, including Nelson Mandela who informed her that he watched it while incarcerated at Robben Island Prison
People

Debbie Allen

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Phylicia Rashad on working with her sister actress-choreographer-director Debbie Allen

Sabrina Le Beauf

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Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show co-star Sabrina Le Beauf

Tempestt Bledsoe

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Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show co-star Tempestt Bledsoe

Lisa Bonet

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Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show co-star Lisa Bonet

Phil Carey

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Phylicia Rashad on her role as "Courtney Wright" on One Life to Live in the early 1980s, and how character Asa Buchanan (played by Philip Carey) appeared to have been married at some point to every character but her's

Marcy Carsey

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Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner and how the cast was buffered from the business side of the show

Bill Cosby

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Phylicia Rashad on her frequent co-star Bill Cosby
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's spontaneity and how he and more-structured director Jay Sandrich had to find a middle ground on The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's sensibilities regarding the writing and character portrayals on The Cosby Show
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's work ethic
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's real life relationship with his wife

Doug E. Doug

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Phylicia Rashad on Cosby co-star Doug E. Doug

Madeline Kahn

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Phylicia Rashad on Cosby co-star Madeline Kahn

Nelson Mandela

View Person Page
Phylicia Rashad about her interaction with fans of The Cosby Show, including Nelson Mandela who informed her that he watched it while incarcerated at Robben Island Prison

Keshia Knight Pulliam

View Person Page
Phylicia Rashad on working with the young cast of The Cosby Show

Jay Sandrich

View Interview Page
Phylicia Rashad on Bill Cosby's spontaneity and how he and more-structured director Jay Sandrich had to find a middle ground on The Cosby Show

Jurnee Smollett

View Person Page
Phylicia Rashad on Cosby co-star Jurnee Smollett

Malcolm-Jamal Warner

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Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show co-star Malcolm-Jamal Warner

Tom Werner

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Phylicia Rashad on Cosby Show producers Marcy Carsey and Tom Werner and how the cast was buffered from the business side of the show

All Interviews

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