Soul: Angela Bassett Reveals How She Brought Dorothea Williams to Life

Soul’s Angela Bassett explained how she found the spark for her character Dorothea Williams. [...]

Soul's Angela Bassett explained how she found the spark for her character Dorothea Williams. Disney has a brand new series where stars of their films explain their inspirations called Draw Me A Story. This time, things focused on the Disney+ film and the idea of the bandleader who stars Joe Gardner's entire journey. She's a powerful stage presence who the schoolteacher has looked up to for a while. Bassett explains that her years in L.A. visiting Jazz clubs was a huge influence. In addition, the performances of Betty Carter and Dorothy Donegan were of crucial importance when crafting the Dorothea Williams persona. Check out her explaining it for herself down below:

"Years later, moving to L.A. and going to the jazz clubs there, seeing Betty Carter on stage, and she's not only performing and singing. Giving us this great gift that she has to share," she added. "But also, she's mentoring and teaching and bringing up these young musicians in her band. Or with Miss Dorothy Donegan, who was a phenomenal piano player. When you listened to her play, you could hear strains of a nursery rhyme, of some classical music, along with some Jazz improv. It was mind-blowing."

"Meeting Pete [Doctor] and Kemp [Powers] for the first time. They show me a picture of my character Dorothea. She's a saxophone player. 'Oh my gosh, I get to headline a band? Oh my gosh, Mom, all those guitar lessons that I took as a kid. Well, those five guitar lessons because we weren't able to afford it. But, look at how far those five lessons took me. Not only am I not playing guitar, I've gone onto saxophone, I have my own quartet!'

She also expanded on her upbringing and how it factored into her love of music. Soul's entire hook is on the connection between an artist and their passions, so this makes a lot of sense.

Bassett continued, "I grew up as a young kid enjoying soul music. I remember the long console stereo that my mom had. She had lots of albums and would love to play and put on some of the greats. The Temptations, Martha and the Vhndellas, Soul Brother. You know, it was the '60s, James Brown. You know, the pick, the Afro, the pick in the back of the Afro with the fist on it."

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