Up The Way Magazine is constantly growing. With hardtimes upon many, we all could use a good laugh. I could tell you a joke or two myself. But, when I'm not working and have a minute or two to kick back, this is who makes me laugh. She's definitely funny and a Super Star. She's appeared in several films and music videos. She's constantly on tour around the globe. With a schedule that's quite demanding, she's shared herself with me for you. Ladies and gentleman, I present Luenelle.
Q: For Luenell, where did it all begin?
A: I was born in Tollette, Arkansas. At two months thru the age 5, I was brought to California. I lived in Berkley and Oakland. I was mostly educated in a white suburb of the Bay area called Asheboro Valley, California. I went to college in Hayward.
Q: Was growing up in your household a hilarious time?
A: Not at all. I was raised as an only child. I have seven brothers and sisters. But, they were left in Arkansas. I was brought to California because my father was killed in Arkansas while my mother was pregnant with me. So, the people who adopted me and brought me to California actually where my dead father's sister, my aunt and uncle by marriage. The only hilarity in the household was that he was a raging alcoholic. He was the type like sometimes how Eddie Murphy talks about his father in Raw, "Vivian! Vivian!, Where you going! Look at the clock! Look at the clock!" You know, my father was very much like that. So he was funny in a real hideous sense of the word. But it was not really funny in my household.
Q: What lead you down the road to comedy?
A: You know, I thought that, ummm... I went to a play one time and I saw a friend of mine in a couple plays. After the plays, we went to the receptions and people were signing autographs, drinking champagne, and taking pictures. A light went off in me. I said to myself," I want that!" I preferred pursuing theater. Yet, lately memories would come back to me even being smaller and younger than that. We use to have a stereo. Back in the days, we called it a Hi-Fi. You'd open it from the top and put the album in. It would have to like, warm up. You'd turn the stereo on and you knew it was ready to go when this little red light came on at the bottom of the stereo. I can remember sneaking, putting Richard Pryor albums on. I'd be laying on the floor, putting my eye right up to the light, listening to his albums pretending I was going into a seedy comedy club with all red lights in it and stuff. So, I think that I had some kind of comedy bug in me before I I knew I did. I really had it in my soul. It's not something that's just a job to me. It's just really, seriously, who I am.
Q: Who inspired you?
A: Well, I got inspired by a lot of people. Of course everybody would say Richard Pryor, and I would say that as well. Then there's Cosby and Lennie Bruce. A lot of the older comedians. Then there's the women: Elayne Boosler, Joan Rivers, and Lucille Ball. All of these people inspired me. Not forgetting LaWanda Page, Moms Mabley and even Minnie Pearl.
Q: So where do you get your material from?
A: I just wake up in the morning and things happen. I just go and talk about them. I don't and have never done the same show nor the exact same show twice. I just don't do what some of the comics call scripted comedy. I don't do the same thing in Cleveland that I do in Chicago. I don't do the same thing in Chicago that I'll do in San Francisco. I change my comedy all of the time to fit the audience that I'm speaking to. I usually try to stay very current on things because I talk about the things that people want to talk about. I say things that people wish they could say in a big forum, such as a stage.
Q: What does it feel like being live on stage?
A: It feels like getting all the love in the world that you never got. It feels like one hundred arms around you, hugging you. It feels like the best drug that you could imagine.
Q: Being a comedian, are there times when you'd prefer to be taken seriously?
A: I'd prefer to be taking serious in every instance. I'd prefer to be taken serious in the street, because I'm not a comedian when I'm with my daughter in the grocery store. People come up to me and be like, "Tell me a joke?" and stuff like that. Or they'd talk to me real loudly.Or they'd say in passing, "You're mfin funny!" right in front of my daughter. They have no respect in the streets. Therefore, I prefer to be taken seriously when I'm out, and I, I might be in the mood that day. But most times I'm not. I'm actually not a friendly person. People don't know that about me because I play it off so well. I really can be very mean.
Q: Have you done any movies or looking forward to a major role someday?
A: Where did you get these questions from? You haven't done your research! How can you ask me have I done any movies? I've done like nine movies!
UTWM: Because everyone that's going to be reading this interview doesn't know!
A: Yeah! Everybody knows! American Hustlers is a movie and everybody seen that. The Rock, with Sean Connery and Nicholas Cage. Borat, which was nominated for an Academy Award. So I Married An Ax Murderer, with Michael Myers. Never Die Alone, with DMX. Everybody knows about those movies.
Q: What would be the ideal character for you?
A: Well I want a serious role. Like a Precious type of thing one day. I think all comics want to stretch their wings in a non-comedic role, because most comedians are actually fabulous actors and actresses. They're really good when they get deep. Such as Jaimie Foxx and Guy Torry. So I'm looking for a role that can express me and surprise everyone with my range.
Q: Would you recommend someone to become a comic with the economy the way it is today?
A: It has nothing to do with the economy. I wouldn't recommend anyone to be a comedian , although we're going to need them in the world. Being that the economy is the way that it is, people are going to need something to laugh at. But I wouldn't recommend this life for anyone.
Q: Why wouldn't you recommend it?
A: I wouldn't recommend this life style because it can wreck your familyand wreck your marriage. You're never around for your kids during the holidays. You're always on the road, if you're lucky. It draws a lot of attention to you. You may not be able to take it. Your kids may not be able to take it. It's a very brutal lifestyle, especially for a woman. We're the one's that are suppose to be there to present the birthday cakes, and open up the presents with the kids and stuff. And if we're working we're simply not here. We're just not here.
Q: What's next for Luenell?
A: Well, I don't know when this is going to come out. But, on the 8th of this month, the new Lady GaGa video will be coming out called Telephone. It has cameo appearances from Beyonce and Tyrese, and I'm in it. There's other groups as well. It's going to be very exciting and twelve minutes long. It's on Lady GaGa's website with a lot of provocative stuff. So it's going to have to be edited down before the world premiere on MTV. I just finished a film with Faizon Love and Wesley Jonathan called Budz House. We just wrapped that film. I have a pilot on the 10th with VH1 and we should know sometime in March if they're going to pick it up or not. And just traveling the country.
Q: Where can we find you when you're not gracing the web pages of Up The Way Magazine?
A: Well you'll have to just go to my website and usually my tour dates are on my calendar. You can also enjoy my videos, radio show and podcast interviews on my website. I've interviewed Ernest Thomas from Everybody Hates Chris, and What's Happening. I've interviewed New York from I Love New York, Mopreme Shakur, who's Tupac's brother, and a lot of others. Those interviews can be heard on the website.
By: Benjamin Janey