Interview: Meagan GoodBy: Kam Williams
Born in Panorama City, California to Tyra Doyle and Leon Good on August 18, 1981, Meagan Monique Good was raised along with her three siblings mostly by her mom. The precocious tot got her early start in showbiz at the age of four with the help of her mother who served as her agent.
After appearing in countless TV commercials, the photogenic cutie pie started landing bit roles on TV series like Gabriel’s Fire and On Our Own until she made her screen debut in Friday in 1995. A couple of years later, her big break arrived when she got to play Cisely Baptiste in Eve’s Bayou with Samuel L. Jackson, Jurnee Smollett and Debbi Morgan.
Since then, her familiar face has become a staple of television on such shows as Cousin Skeeter, Touched by an Angel, My Wife and Kids and Moesha, to name a few. Meanwhile, in film, she made Roll Bounce and Waist Deep before enjoying a starring role as a romantic lead opposite her childhood friend, Columbus Short, in Stomp the Yard.
In 2008 alone, the versatile thespian appeared in the horror flick, One Missed Call; the Mike Myers comedy, The Love Guru; and the slasher flick, Saw V. And this year promises to keep Meagan just as busy, since she’s slated for three more releases, Sundays in Fort Greene, Sweet Flame and The Unborn, which is already in theaters.
Here, the striking actress shares her thoughts about everything from the election of Barack Obama to how she has successfully avoided the pitfalls of early fame which so many former child stars seem to fall prey to.
KW: Thanks so much for the time, Meagan.
MG: Thank you.
KW: Since you’ve been friends with Columbus Short for years, I think I ought to start by asking you the Columbus Short question which is: Are you happy?
MG: I’m very happy! It’s an important question which I don’t think people ask enough in the midst of the glitz and the glamour and all the other things that go on.
KW: How did you and Columbus meet?
MG: We’ve known each other since we were 10. He lived right across the street from my baby cousin. So, we used to play together, and we also went to school together around that age. We actually hadn’t seen each other for several years when we ran into each other when we were like 18 or 19. We became friends again then and we’ve stayed close ever since, and we got to make Stomp the Yard together.
KW: What interested you in making The Unborn?
MG: First of all, when I was a kid, what really got me wanting to act was Halloween 4 and 5. I wanted to be the little girl in those movies so badly. Ever since then, I always wanted to make a scary movie that’s really like a classic thriller. I don’t think we’ve had a great one since Scream 1. So, to me, it seemed like a great opportunity to do everything that I had wanted to do as a little girl.
KW: But this wasn’t your first horror flick, was it?
MG: No, I also did Venom, One Missed Call and Saw V.
KW: What did you think of the storyline of The Unborn?
MG: I believe in ghosts and spirits, and I believe that they can possess you.
KW: What I found a little strange was the idea of a rabbi performing an exorcism.
MG: Spiritually, if something like that needed to be performed, I don’t think it would matter if you weren’t Catholic. I think it’s about believing in God and that you can be saved and healed.
KW: Because of the demonic subject-matter and the physical intensity, this looks like it could have been a very emotionally-challenging film to make.
MG: Oh, yeah! Because of the content, I had to do a lot of praying even before I accepted the role. Then, once I got on set, I prayed every single morning before we started shooting. And I’d pray again in the afternoons.
KW: Why so much?
MG: Even though it’s just a movie, you really are opening yourself up to a lot of things spiritually. People still talk about how the little girl in Poltergeist [Heather O’Rourke] passed away at the age of 12 of some mysterious disease and the actress who played the eldest daughter [Dominique Dunne] in the same movie was murdered a few months after the film opened. So, it was intense for me and I pretty much prayed for everyone on set. You definitely have to take it seriously, spiritually.
KW: I first recall seeing you in a very spiritual film, Eve’s Bayou, a masterpiece directed by Casey Lemmons.
MG: Oh, thank you.
KW: What are you memories of making that movie?
MG: I remember being very nervous, because it was my first leading role as a child. More so than anything I was nervous about having to kiss Samuel L. Jackson, since I was only 14. I also remember being excited and enjoying myself, even in that situation. Although I was young, I prayed while in Louisiana, too, because as you know there’s a lot of voodoo down there and you always need to be covered and protected and aware. Even if it’s just a film, it’s still real life while you’re there shooting it.
KW: What TV commercials did you do when you were a kid?
MG: Everything from Barbie to AT&T to Pringles to Burger King to Cheerios to J.C. Penney’s to Macys. Everything you could think of commercial-wise, I’ve probably done.
KW: What were some of the first sitcoms you appeared on?
MG: Doogie Howser and Amen, and from that I graduated to speaking lines.
KW: Is your dad still a police officer?
MG: Yes, I think he’s retiring this year, but he’s still with the LAPD.
KW: And is your mom still your manager?
MG: No, she stopped managing me when I was a teenager, but she still helps me out a lot. But I try not to have her work for me anymore, because she raised us on her own and pretty much gave up everything so my sister [actress/singer La’Myia Good] and I could have our careers. On top of that, my 36 year-old brother has disabilities, and she’s been caring for him since she was very young. So, I try to make it as easy for her as possible.
KW: What type of disabilities does he have?
MG: I don’t know exactly how it would be classified, but he has some brain damage. He stopped breathing when he was 8, and some medication they gave him left him with a learning disability.
KW: I’m sorry to hear that. I suppose he helped keep you grounded.
KW: What else helped you avoid the pitfalls of early fame which so many former child stars seem to fall prey to?
MG: For one thing, my mom wasn’t a stage-mom. She isn’t very aggressive, and she never tried to force me to do anything I didn’t want to do. She’s just a very laidback person who was very protective of her kids. And she had no interest in taking our money, controlling the situation, or living vicariously through us. She’s really been a great mom who I’ve always had a lot of respect for even as teenagers because she always respected us and treated us like young adults. Some people got on her for being too permissive, but we never rebelled. We never got into drugs and we were the last ones to lose our virginity. We never ran around with the bad boys or hid anything from our parents.
KW: That’s admirable. The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
MG: Oh, I love Tasha. She’s an amazing person. Am I ever afraid? Yes, you have times when you work so hard and put so much into it, and things feel… I don’t want to go so far as to say hopeless… but you’re trying hard not to lose your faith. Moments like that are where I get afraid and I really need to pray and put everything back into perspective. I have to realize it’s not me, it’s God, and I just have to be confident in my ability and focus on the positive regardless of people who say negative things and don’t want me to succeed, or who won’t give me an opportunity. Those are the times when I get a little afraid, because your faith may waver a little bit. But I think now that I’m a little bit older, my mindset is that being afraid is a waste of energy because there are some things that are out of you control that you may just have to accept. So, I put all my energy into making the things I can control go the way I know in my heart they should. My attitude is to keep fighting and try not to be afraid.
KW: B ookworm Troy Johnson was wondering: What was the last book you read?
MG: The Bible.
KW: “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan asks: Where in L.A. do you live?
MG: In Studio City.
KW: Rudy Lewis asks: Who’s at the top of your hero list?
MG: First, Jesus; then, my mom; then Barack.
KW: How do you feel about Obama’s becoming president?
MG: I’m ecstatic! It’s amazing! Gosh, I don’t even know what to say. I’m just happy that Bush is over, and that the way things have been is over. Now the troops can come home and that we can work towards putting ourselves back together. I’m glad for what it represents, and I hope that people don’t make it into a racial thing, because it’s really not about that. It’s about creating unity, and if we needed to use a different colored face to achieve that, so be it. But let’s not make it a racial thing, but a people thing, because we come in all sorts of shapes, sizes and shades. Let’s unify and be happy!
KW: Speaking of shapes, sizes and shades, you have a very exotic look. What’s your background?
MG: My mother’s mother is Jewish and African, so I guess that would be considered Creole. My mother’s father was Cherokee Indian and something else. My dad’s mother’s Puerto Rican and black, and his father was from Barbados.
KW: My father was from Barbados?
MG: Oh really?
KW: Yep. While you are obviously very mature and intelligent, I’m still curious about why you didn’t you go to college?
MG: I always knew I wanted to be an actress, and I had the attitude that I would learn more under people like Samuel L. Jackson, Laurence Fishburne or Mike Myers than from someone who had never starred in a movie. I just didn’t think that someone who had never been in a movie could teach me how to act in one.
KW: Do you at all regret not going to college?
MG: I do wish that I had gone to college, just for the simple fact that knowing more than one approach makes you more well-rounded. But I still can’t say knowing what I know now, that I would have done it any differently.
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What’s music are you listening to nowadays?
MG: I’m a late Eighties, early Nineties baby. I will always be listening to Journey, Foreigner, Pat Benatar, Aerosmith and Guns & Roses. I love R&B without a doubt, but I’m a Rock & Roll girl. And I like a little bit of Pop. You can’t forget about Prince and Madonna.
KW: Is there a question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
MG: Yeah, what would you like to leave behind?
KW: What would you like to leave behind?
MG: Something that’s more than a memory. I’d like to be a part of the new movement, some of which is in film. I’d like to see more different colored faces playing leads in movies and doing art house films. I’d like to be remembered as someone who was on the front line of a movement changing the world and people and how they were perceived. And as someone who used whatever God put her in to offer a positive outlook and to make a positive influence and to change some of the things that are in boxes they shouldn’t be in.
KW: Well, Meagan, I’ve been very impressed with your work thus far and expect even bigger things from you in the future.
MG: Thank you, I’m looking to follow in Julia Roberts’ and Meryl Streep’s footsteps.
KW: Thanks again for the interview, and best of luck.
MG: Thank you and God bless you!
To see a trailer for The Unborn , visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75R2A2ET__4
To see Meagan Goode in the 50 Cent music video “21 Questions,” visit:
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