Actress Diahann Carroll broke so much ground in her career she could be a bulldozer. She was the first Black woman to headline a network TV series without shucking and/or jiving. She was the first Black woman to get her diva on in prime time, and she's done everything from star on the hit USA series White Collar to appearing with James Earl Jones in Claudine to even appearing on the much-maligned Star Wars Holiday Special. She sat down with Turner Classic Movies for a revealing interview …
TCM: You're written about the importance of projecting a positive image on screen, rather than just doing your job. When did the content of a film or TV project become more important to you than simply landing a role?
DC: I think most of us come into the business with those hopes or dreams. Black or white, we want to do something that has some important texture to it. I did not want to do either Carmen Jones or Porgy and Bess. I think I make that clear in the book. I had seen musicals about the Black community, particularly about the poor and uneducated. Porgy and Bess had beautiful music but I never liked the story. The music was so beautiful it made those films work, and the excitement of seeing beautiful Black people in color, but the story was not necessary, really … We'd seen that same damn story 50 times. And it didn't accomplish anything really, except to make our children feel that that was a primary part of our history, our legacy, and that's not information we wanted to give to our children.
Interesting stuff about her relationship with Sidney Poitier, her meeting Dorothy Dandridge and legendary filmmaker Otto Preminger.