"I had learned to stop focusing so much on what I thought other people were thinking. And to really try to find some level of truth inside myself in every moment of what I was doing."
About This Interview
On working with Bill Cosby on The Cosby Show, Phylicia Rashad recalls: "It was just beautiful from the beginning. Bill gave us the greatest instruction. He said, 'do not try to be funny, just tell the story.'" Phylicia Rashad played opposite Bill Cosby on both The Cosby Show and Cosby and received her third Primetime Emmy nomination for the TV movie A Raisin in the Sun. In her two-hour Archive interview, Rashad recounts childhood memories growing up in Houston, Texas and in Mexico City, Mexico. She describes her parents and acknowledges the accomplishments of her mother, poet Vivian Ayers. She vividly recalls when she decided to be an actress, after the attention she received (and her later understanding of "the beauty of communication from the heart") following a reading at a local music festival. She notes her studies at Howard University and the start of her acting career in New York City. She acknowledges her work on Broadway and how she briefly became a regular on the daytime television serial One Life to Live. She speaks in great detail about the role and series for which she is most associated, "Claire Huxtable" on The Cosby Show. For The Cosby Show, she talks about auditioning for the part, describes her character, discusses working with Bill Cosby (and the cast), and outlines a typical workweek on the series. On Bill Cosby's penchant for ad-libbing she explains: "You had to be able to follow him. You had to be able to dance with him. Because he was very spontaneous. And there would be some great, marvelous stuff that could not have been written." She then talks about her work in the spin-off series A Different World. She recounts working on subsequent series Cosby, and gives her impressions of her co-stars, particularly Madeline Kahn. She comments on some of her later work, including the television movie A Raisin in the Sun, for which she reprised her Tony Award-winning role. Jim Colucci conducted the interview in New York, NY on October 22, 2007.