Hey everybody, you good? Great. Because Angela Bassett has a little something to tell you about being Angela Bassett.
While we can't promise her advice will turn you into a Hollywood icon who dominates box offices (Black Panther, Soul), television screens (Fox's 9-1-1) and red carpets (turning up at this year's Oscars in a jaw-droppingly stunning crimson Alberta Ferretti), it is remarkably easy to follow.
"Well, I try to move more," she told E! News when asked how she prioritizes her health. "I have stuff at the house: I have a bike. I have sneakers, two working feet, two working legs." Noting that the process of staying in shape doesn't "have to be so overwhelming," she said she simply focuses on two mandates: "Move more and eat better."
So she makes it a point to consume more healthy greens than processed foods. "We know some things are better for us than others" is how she put it. "Some things in moderation."
And other things—particularly, knowledge—in abundance.
Because it wasn't until after Bassett's beloved mother Betty, who had type 2 diabetes, died from heart disease in 2014 that the actress discovered the link between the two. Signing on as an ambassador for the American Heart Association and American Diabetes Association's joint initiative, Know Diabetes by Heart, Bassett, who turned 63 Aug. 16, has made it her mission to educate.
"If you have type 2 diabetes, you are twice as likely to develop or die from cardiovascular disease: Heart attack, heart failure, stroke," she explained. "There's a correlation. Get to your healthcare provider. Make a plan and you can improve upon and change that narrative."
It's a message she's delivered at many an event, including headlining the first-ever Know Diabetes by Heart at the Theater show at Harlem's legendary Apollo Theater this past May.
"I mean, we only have one mother. You know, she was, as mothers are, incredible," she explained of her motivation for championing the cause. So while she fields about as many partnership requests as you might imagine, this one truly spoke to her, Bassett seeing it "as an opportunity to help the community, especially the African American community, know that there's a great burden of diabetes and subsequently cardiovascular disease that you can develop and die from."
Her goal, she shared, is "to help more people, to just bring that awareness to them about the connection between the two that I wasn't aware of. It's an opportunity to help my uncle or brother who has type 2 diabetes. And to help others."
And while she's dispensing advice...
We were curious if she could share a bit of the magic she'd captured with husband Courtney B. Vance, their now 23-year marriage the sort that people try to emulate in their own lives. (As the kids would say, #couplegoals.)
The secret, as she saw it, was choosing the right person. "Someone you like, who you share similar perspective and belief system," she replied when asked how crucial it was to choose a partner that you enjoy being around. "Because you're not clones. So you're going to, you know, clash and differ along the way. But if they believe in it and you know how to apologize when need be, they do as well. And, you know, like you say, you like 'em."
She and Vance's particular love story has carried them from that first meeting at Yale Drama School, through more than a decade of platonic friendship and finally a marriage that has produced 15-year-old daughter Bronwyn and her twin brother Slater. "There's changes in life. You know, we change physically," she shared of how their relationship has evolved. "But you've got that heart, you know, being sacrificial, they're there for you, got your back, not too scared."
And, perhaps most importantly, they know how to balance you out when need be. "Sometimes I'm like, 'Ahhh!'" she admitted, demonstrating how they've learned to handle each other's stress-fueled moments.
Hollywood veterans with a combined 70-plus years of experience, some 170 credits and an Emmy and a Golden Globe lining their shelves, she has some thoughts on what it takes to have that sort of career longevity she and Vance share as well. "A lot of talent," Bassett posited, "a little luck, a lot of hard work. And an availability for trying new things."
Which is part of the motivation for Bassett Vance Productions, their production company that Bassett hopes will help bring a diversity of stories to the screen. "This whole idea of representation, you know, it's not a sprint, as they say. It's a marathon. And we're in it for the long haul," she explained. "And we want to see those changes in front of as well as behind the camera. And there are people who are working diligently at that."
Because, as she put it, "I know it's a better story when there's a diversity of perspectives. That's what gets me excited."
Her goal, she continued, is to root out the people "who are creative and incredible and brilliant and, you know, just need a little light shown in that direction. Being in control, I don't have that kind of energy. That's not what I find exciting. But that other, like, 'Check this voice out.' That's what I want."
Well, that, and a start date for Black Panther 2: Wakanda Forever, news of the title and release date announced just hours before Bassett sat down with E! News. "I'm excited that that should mean I should get a script soon!" she marveled. "And seeing what visionary Ryan Coogler, our director, has in store for us. I'm really excited about it, the story that he has in mind. And ready to get to work on it. Got to brush up on my dialect!"
(Originally published May 17, 2021, at 6:30 a.m. PT)