“Black Nativity” Stars Sing the Virtues of Family on the Red Carpet

Fox Searchlight has a celebration of family in store for the holidays. The adaptation of Langston Hughes’ Christmas musical, “Black Nativity” “centers around the healing of a family and the sticking together of a family through love,” described Forest Whitaker, who plays Rev. Cornell Cobbs in the film, alongside Angela Bassett, who plays his wife, Aretha. “Those are important themes to me. My character is a singing preacher. He’s carrying with him a lot of regret. He tries to take control of his daughter and get a man out of her life and because of that, he lost her trust. By reconnecting with his grandson, a door is opened.” Also strutting down the red carpet in Manhattan were Jennifer Hudson, who plays his estranged daughter Naima, and Jacob Latimore, who plays the grandson Langston.

Q: Jennifer, what was it like working with Kasi Lemmons, the Director?

Jennifer Hudson: I love her approach as a director – it’s so original and unique. And in this case I followed her vision blindly and once I saw the film I was like, ‘wow – I get it’ – it’s nothing you can explain; it’s something you have to trust completely.

Q: What are your favorite holiday traditions?

JH: My son [David, 4] is writing down his Christmas wishes to Santa, so Santa can replay. And we bake cookies like every day – it’s not good for my Weight Watchers, but we bake cookies almost every day. And we sing together and do holiday songs and he’s on his ABC’s too.

Q: What’s your favorite holiday treat?

JH: Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite holiday treats and I can eat them, but just in portions. As long as I’m eating my serving size, I’m OK, but lately I’ve been making chocolate chip cookies the size of my face.

Q: When you go to a holiday party, what do you generally bring as a hostess gift?

JH: I’m usually the hostess, so everybody comes to my house.

Q: How do you like your new haircut?

JH: It’s so easy! I get to explore it myself and find my new swag with it – it changes like your wardrobe, style and flavor.

Q: Jacob, can you talk about your role as Langston and what you learned from playing him?

Jacob Latimore: My role is Langston, and he’s basically curious to know who his family is. He wants to get them together and they come together through the spirit of forgiveness and through Christ and the nativity. What I learned is that we all have flaws but we all need to be reassured through our faith and forgiveness, which are great messages.

Q: What were his greatest challenges?

JL: My greatest challenge was just digging deep – he grew up not knowing his family, but I grew up having a great relationship with my family, so I had to dig deep.

Q: What was it like working with Angela Bassett?  

JL: She is very warm and is a great grandmother figure – I love her so much.

Q: What does Christmas mean to you?

JL: Being with family and seeing those cousins you haven’t seen in a long time and coming together and being happy.

Q: For those who may not be big fans of musicals, why should they check out this movie?

JL: I feel like this is not a forced musical – we go into songs very naturally as if it is our dialogue and that’s the beautiful part.