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Cast of Selma speak on Civil Rights Movement with XXL

Full article here at XXL

On Joining The Cast
Oprah: 'Cause Ava [Duvernay] made me do it. [Laughs] Ava sent me an online piece regarding the real Annie Lee Cooper that was from a Selma newspaper when she celebrated her 100th birthday in 2010. And in that piece, it talked about her life and her memories of that time in Selma where she actually knocked out a sheriff. She had a fight with Sheriff Clark, and at the end of the piece, it said, every day now, she watched the Oprah show at 4:00, with a tuna fish sandwich.

[Ava] did that on purpose. And Ava said, “Don’t you think it would mean a lot to her to know that you, who she watched every day at 4:00 with the tuna fish sandwich, was portraying her?” And that was it, 'cause I’d said, no, no, every film I’ve been in, I end up hitting somebody. My last movie I had to slap David [Oyelowo]. And I said, “I don’t want to do another film where I’m knocking somebody out or I’m having a fight,” and so forth. But that, it really happened, and it happened that, you know, there’s a famous photograph of her being pinned down by the two deputy sheriffs. And so I said yes for Annie Lee Cooper, and the tuna fish sandwich and watching the Oprah show every day, but more importantly, for every other woman and man in my history who took that walk to the registrar’s office and was turned down and then went back home and tried it another year, and then went back and tried it another year.

This was Annie Lee Cooper’s fifth time. And when you think about what it takes to keep getting up and saying, "I will, and I can," in the face of an entire society that says that you cannot and you will not, I just wanted to be able to take the few minutes in that walk and pay tribute to all of those people. That’s why I said yes.