Interview – Leslie Uggams

Born in Harlem, New York, Leslie Uggams is a unique talent who shined bright in the entertainment world for over seventy years. A Tony and Emmy Award-winning actress and singer who has starred on Broadway, in feature films, and television, some of her most recognized credits include her own television variety show, 1969’s The Leslie Uggams Show, plus her stunning performance in 1977’s television miniseries Roots. Starring in a mix of theater, film and television with an ability to move from dramatic to comedic roles flawless… Uggams is truly one of a kind. 

Still very actively working her craft, she recently took on a co-starring role in the new comedy Dotty & Soul. A film that teaches us that we should never underestimate another, Uggams portrays Dotty; an older woman who has plenty more to accomplish in life, but is just waiting for the right opportunity. With Dotty & Soul set for release on May 19th, Leslie Uggams took some time to chat about her career, the work put into the new film, plus more.

Cryptic Rock – You have sustained a lengthy, successful career in entertainment. A winner of countless awards, how would you describe your incredible seven plus decade journey?

Leslie Uggams – Shocking, just shocking! (Laughs) My mother used to say, “You look around one corner, and it always comes around the other corner.” That’s how my career has been, it’s never been something that was planned. It has been so rewarding and such a wonderful journey. From the people I’ve met, to the projects I’ve been able to do, I’m very happy.

Poor Pretty Eddie / Artaxerxes Productions (1975)
Roots miniseries/ ABC (1977)

Cryptic Rock – It certainly has been a fantastic ride which is still going for you. Now you have a starring role in a new Comedy entitled Dotty & Soul. How did the project come about for you?

Leslie Uggams – Well, Adam Saunders and I had a meeting where you talked about the script. At first, I wondered, “Who is this guy?” Then we met, and I immediately felt a connection to him before we even started talking about the script in-depth. I loved the story of Dotty and this connection that she makes with this younger guy. I loved how much she learns from him and how much he gets to learn from her.

I’ve always felt that people tend to think only young people have dreams, and when you get over sixty-five you can’t have any dreams. The wonderful thing about Dotty & Soul is that it proves the opposite. It is a renewal of life for both of the characters.

Cryptic Rock – Absolutely. Dotty & Soul is a Comedy at heart, but it also has a few strong messages intertwined. One which stands out boldly is that we should not judge people on the surface. You see these two very different people connecting who are both from two different walks of life. Yes, they come from different backgrounds, but you see they are similar in many ways.

Leslie Uggams – Exactly, that is totally how I felt about it. You look at Dotty and she’s this elder statesman, trying to catch the bus, and they have no idea what she’s really all about. She gets a chance to show that she is quite brilliant. (Laughs) Thank God she was able to hook up with Adam’s character because she was dormant at the time and he awakes this whole thing. He’s shocked too, because people take elders for granted thinking – they’re old and they don’t know. That’s what I loved about the script.

Adam Saunders & Leslie Uggams in Dotty & Soul / Quiver Distribution (2023)

Cryptic Rock – You can feel that connection. And these aspects of the film are what makes the comedic ones more fun. It has soul… it is in the title!

Leslie Uggams – Yes, and plus the characters are constantly surprising each other in their relationship.

Cryptic Rock – That is very true. There seems to have been good chemistry with Dotty & Soul. What was it like working with the cast and crew on this film?

Leslie Uggams – We had a great time. It was a happy set to be on. Even when we weren’t shooting, we had a warm relationship with each other; which made it even better for what we were doing on the screen.

We filmed in Oklahoma City; I had never been there before, and I had a great time there. Then, the week before we were to finish shooting the pandemic happened, and we had to shut down. It wasn’t until three years later that we got to complete the movie. That was kind of wonderful in a way, because so many things had happened since when we initially started. When we started working on the movie, we were ahead of our time. When we went back to finish the movie, so many things were happening that we had been discussing in this movie. So, it was interesting.

Dotty & Soul / Quiver Distribution (2023)

Cryptic Rock – Yes, it is very topical. As we stated, Dotty & Soul is a Comedy, but you have worked in so many genres. So, do you enjoy working in Comedy?

Leslie Uggams – Listen, I approach Comedy not to be funny, but I just go with the act as it is given to me. I didn’t think, “I had to be funny.” That’s what I love about this movie. These characters are just living their lives, communicating with each other, and some of it is very funny. They are two different kinds of people, somehow, they come together, and that makes it really funny. She tells it like it is, so a lot of times she’s funny… but not trying to be. (Laughs)

For more on Leslie Uggams:| Facebook | Instagram

Like the in-depth, diverse coverage of Cryptic Rock? Help us in support to keep the magazine going strong for years to come with a small donation.

No comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *