Sordid Lives’ star Ann Walker can’t tell where she ends and her long-running character LaVonda Dupree begins. The show’s writer and director Del Shores wrote the play-turned-movie-turned-TV series-turned play again with Walker in mind, and tells the story of a Texas family coming together after the matriarch of the family dies. It’s a self-described “black comedy about white trash.”
This time around, Walker is doing the show for a good cause. From October 13 through 15, she will reprise her role at the McGlohon Theater at Spirit Square thanks to a first-time collaboration between Different Roads Home and Theatre Charlotte. CharlotteFive got a chance to talk with the actress about why she’s reviving the role and what LaVonda would think of House Bill 2.
CharlotteFive: Why did you reprise LaVonda Dupree?
Ann Walker: They [Different Roads Home] asked me and I decided how fun that would be, so I said yes. Doing this character has had a few different resurrections over the years. We started in 1996 with the play, and ran that for a long time in Los Angeles. And it was a big hit. And when the play was over, we stayed like a family forever and then in 2000 he [Shores] decided to make a movie of it. I wasn’t going to be able to play my part. I was told he had to have Beverly D’Angelo.
Three weeks before we started, he called me and said Beverly couldn’t do it and I jumped at it. It was my part; he wrote it for me. I got to do the movie and then again we thought oh that’s done. In 2008, we did a television series of it and that was the most fun, I have to say. Every time it felt like it’s over with, it comes back. And it’s just sort of part of me. It’s been a real blessing, not a curse at all. People love these characters; even the ones that are not very nice they love, like Dr. Eve. Everyone loves to hate Dr. Eve.
C5: What keeps people coming back to Sordid Lives?
AW: In the beginning, people just couldn’t believe it was so funny and they would bring other people to see it because they just loved it, loved the message of love and acceptance but handled in such a funny way and people laughed their guts out and they missed some of the lines and they wanted to see it again. It’s because of Palm Springs [weekly showings on Friday nights] it became not just a gay movie, but we had so many retired people in Palm Springs, and so it was straight couples, old, new, young and people would bring other people. It was like an event.
C5: What are you hoping to do with this version of the production?
AW: It’ll be different because I’m different now, but not too far because the character is so much a part of me. She’ll just be a little older. She’s supposed to be in her late 40s. I’m a little older than that. I’m not quite as nervous because I know everything works timing wise. The most interesting part will be working with a whole new cast of people because they have already been rehearsing. I think it’s going to be exciting and fun.
C5: How familiar are you with the political happenings in Charlotte?
AW: Very. I have a radio show and I do LGBT topics and politics. Since the election is coming up, I’ve been doing mostly political shows. I know a lot about Governor McCrory and his bullshit that he’s spreading around there. Go ahead, ask me.
C5: I’m going to ask you a question about North Carolina. Can you answer as LaVonda?
AW: [laughs] Sure.
C5: LaVonda, what do you think about HB2?
AW: I think it’s the worst bullshit thing that could be wrought upon the Earth! It’s an insult to people everywhere. I don’t know what was in their minds other than discrimination and pain and just being rude, plain old downright rude!
That’s LaVonda, but Ann thinks the same thing. I might say it a little better or a little nicer. Well, no I wouldn’t say it any nicer. I was flabbergasted when I read they were going to do that. Transgender people, whether they’re young and especially in the schools, nobody wants to be set aside or pointed out. You’re trying to fit in when you’re in school. And the pain and the anguish this has caused people, not to mention the money North Carolina has lost because of it.
I’m coming there to make people laugh. Hopefully that will mean something, and to raise some money for Different Roads Home, which is such a worthy cause. They help people. They provide meals and housing and get people on their feet and help them stay on their feet. It just makes a difference for people who are ill or living with HIV and AIDS. So, I will always say yes to something like that. We can raise a bunch of money for them [to get] them through the next year and give them a good Thanksgiving and Christmas.