“I had no idea that ‘Coming to America’ would turn out to be iconic for a lot of people,” said Garcelle Beauvais, “and now here we are, 30-odd years later, and we’re at it again. It’s the gift that keeps on giving.”
Like so many others from the first film, Beauvais is back for the sequel, “Coming 2 America,” and this time out her character has been elevated from mere rose bearer to Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem to rose bearer priestess. “I guess she got a promotion! She’s been upgraded!”
The original 1988 film was one of Beauvais’s first jobs in Hollywood — “I didn’t even know what it meant to hit your mark when I got that role” — and her career in the years since has included shows such as “The Magicians,” “Grimm,” “NYPD Blue” and “Family Matters.” These days she is a co-host of daytime talk show “The Real” and a cast member on “The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.”
When asked about a worst moment in her career, it was her first day on the TNT legal dramedy “Franklin & Bash” that came to mind.
My worst moment …
“If you know me, you know punctuality is huge for me. My friends hate this about me because they know if I say, ‘I’m going to pick you up at 7:30,’ I’ll be there at 7:28.
“That’s the background. OK. So I got cast on ‘Franklin & Bash.’ My kids were really young at the time, so my sister came from Florida to L.A. to help with them. The very first day we were shooting the pilot, she comes into my room and wakes me up and says, ‘Hey, you’re late for work.’
“And I go, ‘No, no, no, no — you’re on Miami time. I’m good because my alarm hasn’t gone off yet,’ and I go back to sleep. An hour later I wake up and I’m panicked because I am late! I don’t know what happened but my alarm didn’t go off! I think I let my anxiety get the best of me when I set my clock and I got something wrong. So I’m driving like a maniac to get to set. And because punctuality is so important to me, the last thing I want anyone to say is, ‘Oh, she’s late.’
“So I’m in the makeup room getting my hair and makeup done, and one of the producers comes in and he goes to me: ‘Do we need to buy you an alarm clock?’ And I burst into tears. You don’t want to be late on your first day of work because first impressions are everything, and I’m all about showing respect and being punctual. So I was mortified.”
Was the producer joking?
“I don’t think so, because when production is late, it costs everyone money. That’s not a joke. He sounded serious enough that I took it seriously. I didn’t cry in front of him, though. I held it together and it was only when he left that I started crying, and the makeup artist was like, ‘Uh, are you OK?’ And I was like, ‘I don’t like to be late!’ because then when you walk on set, everybody’s looking at you like you’re the person who’s been holding everything up. The domino effect of being late hits everybody and they’re annoyed with you and it’s just not a good way to start things off.
“So from then on, I was almost 45 minutes early every time. I would just hang out in my trailer. But it was to make sure it didn’t happen again.”
Have you ever been the one waiting around for a colleague who’s late?
“You know what, you just reminded me: The other day we were shooting ‘Housewives’ and we were in Tahoe and I actually said, ‘Guys, I’m tired of always being the first one ready. Show up when they tell you to show up!’ And the women looked at me like, really? Really? They’re always late because they’re getting their hair and makeup done. But guess what, I can be glam too and be on time. Dorit is notorious for being late because she’s doing videos of the glam process and then videos of the final look, all of it.
“The thing is, it’s not as much of an issue to be late on that show because what they really want is for us to take it out on each other (laughs). They want that. So when I was like, ‘Come on everybody, show up,’ I got a lot of side eyes from the women but the producers were eating it up.”
The takeaway …
“After my first day on ‘Franklin & Bash,’ I became much more aware of the fact that everybody has a job to do on these shows. You can’t do it by yourself, so if a few people are late, then it negatively affects everyone.
“You know when you’re playing Jenga? I don’t want to be the block that knocks everything over.”
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