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Miracles with Queen Latifah

Mar 14, 2015

By: Lynn Barker

In Miracles from Heaven, Queen Latifah plays Angela, a friendly Boston waitress who takes Christy Beam (Jennifer Garner) and her very ill daughter Anna (Kylie Rogers) under her wing. In Angela’s ‘beater” car, the trio goes on a tour of the city to add a little joy into Anna’s grim life and Angela becomes a family friend. Anna has been diagnosed with a rare intestinal disease that has no real cure. The film is based on a true story.

Angela (Queen), Anna and mom on the townAngela (Queen), Anna and mom on the townCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Playing Anna is 12-year-old tween Kylie Rogers whose acting career is on the rise with several upcoming projects. She and Queen sat with journalists recently to talk about the inspirational film in which miracles, both small and huge, happen. When the Anna character and her mom come in, Angela (Queen’s character) senses their sorrow at Anna’s illness and makes life better for them.

Q: It was funny when your boss in the diner calls you “Your Majesty”.

  • Queen: Yeah. Everybody in that diner scene was pretty funny. I think they were part of a comedy troupe though. They were funny between takes. They had a million jokes. I’m thinking “These guys are nuts”.

Q: That’s nice though, right?

  • Queen: Yeah, we had to brighten it up a little bit.

Angela (Queen Latifah) clutches Anna's mermaid dollAngela (Queen Latifah) clutches Anna's mermaid dollCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Your character Angela is like an angel. She really is. She is there at the right time and embraces these strangers and takes them on the town. Is that like you or someone you know?

  • Queen: You know, I’ve done some pretty amazing things but I don’t think I’ve ever done anything like that. I truly admire her and what she was able to do. To be that conscious and to change your life to make someone’s life better; to see that need and be able to step in there, almost to the detriment of her own job, was pretty cool.
  • I love this character and the fact that she’s a real person who really did this and then meeting the real people that this happened to and hearing their stories, I can’t wait to meet her one day. I’ve seen pictures of her and it’s kind of funny because we don’t look anything alike. She’s a blonde white woman from Boston. I’m from New York. That’s already contentious. I mean, I’m Yankees, she’s Red Sox (laughter)

Q: Kylie you are very emotional on screen. How did you prepare to do the role?

  • Kylie: I don’t know. You kind of read the script and get an idea. I take acting very seriously so when I get a new character I get really into it. When I got to meet the real Anna, it got me even deeper into the character that I was playing.
  • Queen: She’s an amazing actress, just being there watching her and watching Patricia (Riggen) direct her, and ask her to try it this way or here’s what you’re thinking about right here and to watch Kylie make those adjustments so quickly and naturally was a joy to watch. She’s extremely talented.

Q: How was working with Eugenio Derbez who plays your doctor in the movie?

  • Kylie: Awesome. He’s so funny and just fun. He’s so nice too. He’s just so carefree and just happy (she laughs).

Anna (Kylie) and family with Anna's fun doctorAnna (Kylie) and family with Anna's fun doctorCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: And working with Jennifer Garner. How did you guys bond together? Did you do some fun stuff?

  • Kylie: Yeah. We did lots of arts and crafts and the Mermaid doll that I have in the movie. We were obsessed with it. We’d be constantly braiding it. I’d go on YouTube when I got home from set and learn how to do different braids. So, I learned how to do the waterfall braid, a bunch of braids then I would go and teach Jennifer. We’d be constantly braiding. We loved the doll so much that we contacted the person who made them and got like twenty-something of them made for all the girls on set.

Q: Very generous. Queen, what is your take on getting more people of color working in Hollywood?

  • Queen: We need to diversity. We need to see more stories told from people from different walks of life and I think it would reflect more of America and the world, how it really is. I also love to see more inclusion not just for minorities but for women. That’s major as well. To me the Oscars are supposed to be the best and, as a member of the Academy, I want to vote for the best and be a part of the best. You have to include the best in order to really hold yourself to that standard.

Angela drives Christy (Jennifer Garner) around townAngela drives Christy (Jennifer Garner) around townCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Do movies need to reflect the film going audiences all over the world?

  • Queen: Yeah. You have to make sure you are connecting with what people are actually watching. Do I expect that my grandmother is gonna watch “Straight Outta Compton”? No I don’t but she would watch this movie. Someone like me would watch “Straight Outta Compton” but we don’t even say those words around her (she laughs). It’s not getting’ play in Nana’s house.

Q:  How was your experience of working with a Latino woman director on this film?

  • Queen: It was great. I’m glad I speak a little Spanish so it was perfect. Patricia was cool. I’m used to working with strong women who lead the way so it was great to have a female at the helm and stars; young and older. It was great for me. She was really able to tap into the sensitivity of all these characters and the story and what we needed to show emotionally, which I thought was great.

Mom (Jennifer Garner) tells Anna it will be okayMom (Jennifer Garner) tells Anna it will be okayCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Is music still a big part of your life?

  • Queen: Yeah, music is big. I have about fifty records that I’ve done in different genres so I’m trying to complete this major project of releasing all these albums in different genres in one day.
  • My style has grown and it’s different styles because I love different kinds of music. There’s rapping and singing but there’s jazz and electronic feeling things and hip hop still and bluesy kind of stuff as well. I really kind of draw from all the influences of music that I love and a little reggae in there as well. I’m true to all of that because it’s naturally me.

Q: Kylie, what is the best piece of advice that someone you look up to has given you?

  • Kylie: I got a lot of advice from Russell (Crowe) on improv. Like pretty much after every scene we’d do improv. I got a lot of advice from you (indicating Queen).
  • Queen: She is good!
  • Kylie: And Jennifer and everyone.
  • Queen: You pick something up everywhere you work.

Anna with her dad (Martin Henderson)Anna with her dad (Martin Henderson)Courtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Can you watch this film and not cry?

  • Queen: There is no way I’m getting through. I’m already sensitive so definitely not. Just reading the script, it was so powerful at that time. But that’s not the intension. Doing movies like this is a gift to guys who think they’re strong. Go see this movie and you can finally have that cry you need. Movies like this give you permission to just let it out and then pull it together. It’s important to be able to be moved. I love that there’s a movie that moves you that you feel connected to that really makes you moved inside. That’s a good thing.

Q: Have you experienced a miracle?

  • Queen: Yeah, all kinds of miracles big and small, simple and very deep. I feel connected. Things happen in the strangest ways. I remember when I lost my brother, I was 22 and he was 24. It was a motorcycle accident. I was really sad. I was alone on the plane. I would cover my head with a blanket and kind of talk, pray then cry. I was so sad.
  • I was looking out at the sky one day and really crying saying “Winkie, I really miss you.” and whoosh, I saw a shooting star going across the sky! Now my brother and I rode motorcycles, rode fast so I was like “No way did you get to become a shooting star!” So, another flight, same thing, blanket over the head talking, crying and I see another one. I started to say “Wait a minute, okay, now this is getting weird”.

Anna (Kylie) and big sister climb a treeAnna (Kylie) and big sister climb a treeCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Don’t tell me it happened again.

  • Queen: (smiling) So the next flight I was like “Okay, if you are really a shooting star, I dare you to fly across the sky right now”. Whoosh, a star went flying across the sky. “Oh snap!” So that’s my little story of my little miracle. I believe so I was like “Okay, that’s cool We’re good. Pull yourself together. Life goes on. You’ll be all right”.

Q: Great story! What are each of you working on now and what’s coming up?

  • Kylie: Right now I’m working on a movie called “Collateral Beauty”. It has Mike Wilson, Ed Norton and Kate Winslet in it. It’s about a businessman who loses his daughter and he’s sad. I think next month or so I have a movie coming out called “Fathers and Daughters” with Russell Crowe and Amanda Seyfried.
  • Queen: Doin’ a movie with Russell Crowe. Who’s your agent? (laughter).

Angela (Queen) takes Anna (Kylie) and mom sight seeingAngela (Queen) takes Anna (Kylie) and mom sight seeingCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Q: Queen what are you looking for right now in your career?

  • Queen: I have a movie that we produced called “The Perfect Match” that’s coming out as well. That’s the next thing we want to make successful along with this. I’m doing a pilot tentatively titled “Star” so I should know pretty soon when that’s going to air on Fox. That’s my immediate future and a couple of movie projects that are happening in the spring.

Q: Are you ready for the schedule of doing TV?

  • Queen: I don’t know. It seems easier than my talk show so I guess that’s okay. I’m just kind of wrapping my mind around it. When it gets here, I’ll be fine with it. I’ll adjust to it. I’m pretty fluid. I’m pretty used to adjusting to whatever and whenever I need to be. I’ll be fine. I’m excited about it.

Miracles from Heaven PosterMiracles from Heaven PosterCourtesy of Sony Pictures

Miracles from Heaven is in theaters March 16th!



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