|Chapter Twelve: My Way: On My Own Terms|
I left that Thursday for my mother's funeral. When I returned the following
day to shoot the two tapings in front of two different live audiences, I was
met with the most unacceptable re-writes of all.
When I read the profanity in the script and saw the large bag of
potato chips left on her desk presumably for her to eat during a scene, I
decided I’d had enough.
asked the "A.D."(Assistant Director) to get the producers. The
writer/producer team immediately came to the set. Baffled, one of them
asked, "Yes, Adilah? What's the matter?"
them, "Each day I read my re-writes, I like my character less and less.
I feel like I don't know her anymore." I went on to say, "My mouth
cannot form these new words."
could feel their panic. Here we were on tape day in front of two live
audiences on the last workday of our pilot, and I was saying I did not want
to go on camera with their final script. One of them said, "We'll be
no intention of portraying my character using the latest version of the
script. Putting my job and name on the line, I was prepared to walk. I was
clear I was not going to portray my character on national television in the
way I was being asked. I was unwilling to perpetuate yet another stereotype.
The responsibility I felt to myself and to my culture would not allow me to
represent that way.
I had not deliberately planned to put the producers up against the wall, the
truth was they would have been very hard-pressed to find another actor to
take over my role that same day. They would have to find someone in a matter
was a lot riding on this situation on both sides.
writer/directors joined me minutes later and one said looking through his
glasses, "Okay. We are going to change the writing back to how it
said, “Thank you.”
asked pointedly, "Do you know how many actresses we read for this
He went on
to say, "Most of them would have done whatever we asked them to
"I know that." I further explained, "They would have done so
not because they wanted to, but because they wanted to work. Some of them
also wanted to please you." I
added, "If I never work a day in LA again, I will work. I have a
one-woman show I tour all over this country."
made it through that tape day. I gave my best. The tapings went well. Both
live audiences seemed to enjoy the humor in our sit-com pilot. The producers got a strong
performance out of me and I got to play the role the way I wanted.
It was a win/win situation.