There are plenty of Black lesbian and bisexual women in Hollywood, but it’s a rare thing to find an openly gay Black actress in Hollywood…who’s working.
She may not be as celebrated by mainstream gay America as the cast of Showtime’s “L Word” series is, but Felicia Pearson has garnered a nationwide fan base with her role as Felicia “Snoop” Pearson in HBO’s “The Wire.”
A Black lesbian female who was born premature to two drug-addicted and incarcerated parents and ended up in a foster home where she was raised by the hardcore streets of Baltimore, Felicia earned her G.E.D. while serving 8 years in prison for second-degree murder. Yes, she’s not your typical Hollywood story.
Snoop, as she’s affectionately called by her peers, joined the cast of the critically acclaimed HBO series “The Wire” in 2004 after meeting Michael K. Williams who plays Omar Little in the series at a nightclub in Baltimore. After an invitation to come to the set one day and upon meeting the writers and producers of the series, she was offered a role with the character named after herself. And let me add that Queen Latifah’s character Cleo from the movie “Set It Off” ain’t got nothing on Snoop’s character on “The Wire.” She’s as real as they come.
A lot of her character’s authenticity may come from the fact that Snoop’s life up until the moment that she was cast on “The Wire” had been a life of hustling, drugs, and violence with eventually landed her in prison at the tender age of 14. She recently chronicled her life story up until the moment she was cast on “The Wire” in her new autobiography Grace After Midnight.
Today, Felicia Pearson is on the verge of celebrating her 28th birthday, a birthday that doctors couldn’t see coming when she was born and had to be fed from an eyedropper due to her premature size. She has seen the conclusion of one of America’s most talked about television series, earned herself fans across the nation, all while representing for Black lesbians from coast to coast, whether she knew she was or not. Now she’s looking forward to her new life as an actress, author, and rapper.
A woman of few but direct words (she gets straight to the point), I recently spoke with her via phone regarding her character on “The Wire”, her future, Black lesbians, and the race for President.
What are your thoughts on The Wire ending and with it your character Snoop?
I'm not going to lie, I'm really going to miss it, I mean I was lucky to get my start on a critically acclaimed show. The writers, the producers, the directors are the best and the cast...oh man, they are my family now. But I can't be mad, cause' it started a new beginning for me. I’m sad it had to end like this but it definitely created opportunities for me.
My character Snoop? It was a lot of fun to play Snoop, but I want to do some roles where people can see that I'm really nothing like that. People are actually scared of me because they think I'm really like that,....so that...I won't miss.
Opportunities? What’s next for you?
Well, I’m on tour right now with my book Grace After Midnight that’s my main focus and then I plan to work toward turning it into a film and I'm reading for roles for film and TV. Me and Jamie Hector have a youth group called Moving Mountains Inc. based out of Baltimore and New York where we’re getting kids who are interested in performing arts off the streets and into scripts.
…and your music?
Look out for that...(laughs) I'm up for it all... I am still working in the studio to get my music just right and will release something in the future. But I'm starting with features, did a couple already. Just did the Rick Ross video and hosted a week on Rap City on BET. See after doing The Wire, I've got a responsibility to not come short with nothing I do. That's why I'm not rushing to put out my music until it's right.
You’re openly gay and there are so few Black lesbians that are out in Hollywood. How has that been for you?
No problems. If people have one, they keep it to themselves. It doesn’t come around me. Listen, I just feel blessed cause I get a lot of love every where I go so if anybody is out there that has a problem with it, I really wouldn't know.
Did you ever consider not being out about your sexuality once you were cast on The Wire?
Never an option. I am who I am.
What are your thoughts on homophobia in Black America?
No thoughts. It doesn’t come around me. If people have an issue with it they keep it to themselves.
I know you’re from East Baltimore, would you say there are a lot of Black lesbians in your hood?
I mean yes and no.
Can you explain?
I’d say that out of 100 people 35 or 40 percent are Black lesbians.
Do you consider yourself a role model for Black lesbians?
I mean, I don’t know. You’d have to ask them.
Do you attend lesbian events?
Basically right now I’m on the grind. But I do go to lesbian functions when I can from time to time.
Right now politics is everywhere. From the streets to entertainment, it’s what’s being talked about. Going into this Presidential election, what are the issues that are most important to you?
First of all, for a long time I didn't even think about politics since I wasn't able to vote because of a mistake I made when I was 14 years old. I mean I really didn't understand what all the talk was about because to me politicians just talk a lot but don't really ever do anything, So I didn't care, but now that I have become a tax payer and property owner, certain issues have become important to me, l even work with politicians now on anti-violence youth campaigns and literacy programs for youth and I see that some of them a really trying to make a difference. Issues that are important to me are first, the right to vote even if you did time, I mean did I pay my debt to society or not? If I did than let me start with a clean slate and the right to vote. I am also very concerned about education and after school programs.
The Wire may be over, but I’m not gone. God blessed me with this talent and until God takes it away I am here.
Felicia “Snoop” Pearson’s autobiography Grace After Midnight is currently available in bookstores nationwide. She’s currently on a book signing tour and can be reached online at http://www.myspace.com/BmoreSnoop. She spoke with me on the phone from Baltimore.