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Comic actress Kim Wayans gets a showcase for her dramatic skills as a mother trapped in a difficult marriage who rejects her lesbian daughter (Adepero Oduye) in the upcoming film Pariah.
The women, who both deliver award-caliber performances in Dee Rees's searing drama, discuss the difficulties in playing their tormented characters with Variety.
"There's a scene where I tell Kim, who plays my mom, that I love her," Oduye says. "And that was maybe the most difficult scene in the entire movie for me because of how she reacts."
Oduye believes anyone who feels like an outsider can relate to her character. "I think this character is powerful because we've all felt like outsiders, like we have a secret that's embarrassing or that will make people judge us," says Oduye, who has just completed several shorts and is considering new projects. "It's about becoming completely who you are."
Wayans, identified with outrageous comic characters such as Beita Butrell on the series In Loving Color, fought for the role of the conflicted mother after reading the script. "I think everyone knows me as a part of this big Wayans family that does a lot of comedy films," Wayans says. "But I really wanted to show them that I could do this."
With strong reviews since the film's premiere at Sundance last January, it's unlikely Wayans will have to fight to be considered for dramatic roles in the future. "Now I can get in the room to read for a part," Wayans says. "I'll always be thankful for that."
Pariah will be released in theaters December 28.