With Season 5 already in mid-season, Angela Robinson is the co-star on OWN’s most popular television series The Haves and the Have Nots, written by Tyler Perry. She convincingly plays Veronica Harrington, a manipulative and vindictive villain, often referred to as The Ice Queen. The role has earned her a well-deserved Gracie Award for Outstanding Female Actress – One to Watch (2015), and her calculating and no-holds-barred character has certainly helped make this show entertaining to watch amongst millions of fans and viewers. Industry Rules got the chance to talk with Angela. Despite Angela’s career accomplishments, she is genuine, full of wisdom and encouraging. So read on.
GR: Historically African Americans working in film and television have fought to make shows that reflect their diverse lives and culture. Have we reached a tipping point towards success on this issue, or does the success of shows like The Haves and the Have Nots seem familiar to you?
Angela Robinson: I’m not sure it’s at a “tipping point” but we are certainly moving in the right direction. When it is no longer a surprise or the topic of conversation maybe we can celebrate. For now we ride the wave and pray it is not a fad but a solid part of the entertainment culture. We have experienced successful shows but a successful change in mentality, is what will guarantee a “tipping point” toward success. I am hopeful.
GR: One of your most acclaimed roles is Shug Avery in The Color Purple. Why do you think that character resonates with so many people, and how has performing Shug Avery changed you personally?
AR: We are all flawed. Shug was a flawed human being. It’s easy to look at Celie and see her as a victim. Celia was a victim of sexual, physical and emotional abuse. We feel for her, we pray for her and we rejoice with her when she overcomes. Shug is perceived as the strong one, the worldly one, the sinner, the beautiful one. Yet in truth Shug has been victimized as well. Her strength is what she allows you to see but there is vulnerability there. In the end Shug is the one who leads Celie back to God. Shug’s words “I think it piss God off if anybody walk pass the color purple in a field and not notice it”. It resonates because we are all striving to be our very best in spite of our brokenness. Performing Shug helped me to understand words of wisdom and encouragement can come from the darnedest places.
GR: Would you talk about your experience traveling with USO/DOD to entertain troops throughout the world?
AR: I was in the Miss Florida Pageant, twice. I was determined to get to Miss America. My first try, I didn’t even make Top 10. I was devastated. There was another prize. They chose 6-10 women to be a part of a group called ‘The Florida Girls’. The night of the pageant I was chosen to be a part of that group. I was happy but I was still quite sad about not getting in the Top 10. Years later I realized the Florida Girls was the coveted prize. It gave me the opportunity to see the world. To interact with our military, to live on remote bases in huts and entertain the best audiences ever; OUR TROOPS. Thanks to the USO/DOD and Miss Florida Pageant, I have a world view that is shaped not only from books but from my travels. The following year I did make the Top 10 but my fondest memories will always be the Florida Girls.
GR: You are a proud alumnus of Florida A&M University. How important has attending a historically black college been to your career and personal development?
AR: I love myself. That is not arrogant, it is spiritual. The bible says “Love thy neighbor as yourself”. I am really pretty insecure but not about my blackness or my culture. My parents are both HBCU graduates. I didn’t have much of a choice in the matter and I’m glad about that. I received an education that was tailor made for me as a Black Woman. I fell in love with me there. We are taught not to just get a degree but to be sure your degree can help you to serve your communities. I am an artist. I love it but how will I use my artistry to serve? These are the questions FAMU taught me to ask. FAMU is a great institution. I am so happy to come from a long line of RATTLERS.
GR: What advice would you give to young performers in high school?
AR: Don’t silence the small voices that whisper in your dreams. Those voices will guide you to your passions. Even when they seem unattainable, allow them to be heard and hold them close. The way will be made to attain them but you must first receive them (your dreams). Accept your uniqueness. Don’t try to be like everyone else. Lastly surround yourself with people who believe in you, who cheer you on, who lift you up, who pray for you, and who tell you the truth in love.
GR: What other projects do have in the works?
AR: My husband and I run the WhiteRobin Group a consulting firm for artists. We are planning our next acting workshop in New York and Atlanta. I’m doing a lot of writing and I’m excited about some acting things coming up as well. When that happens I will tell you all about it. In the meantime, I’m still having a blast with Veronica Harrington. I love playing the ice queen.
GR: Do you have plans to do work behind the camera, including writing, directing, or producing?
AR: I am interested producing for sure.
GR: Finally, as a performer, which medium do you prefer for your art? Theater or television?
AR: I love them all. I’ve always wanted to be a well-rounded artist who moves seamlessly between all genres. I’m grateful to get to do that. Theatre is my first love. There is nothing like the live audience. I will always long for the stage, but I love them all.
You can see Angela every Tuesday at 9pm/8pm central on the OWN Network, so be sure to tune in. You can also keep up with Angela via her social media: Facebook @AngelaRobinsons2, Twitter @Angelarobschild, and Instagram @angelarobschild.
Photographer: Brian L. Christian
Styling: Adrene Ashford
Hair: Alkkyseam Watson
Makeup: Quintessence Patterson