We speak with actress Angela Robinson – also known as Veronica Harrington from the Tyler Perry TV series “The Haves and the Have Nots” – as the special guest for the 22nd annual Pee Dee Area United Negro College Fund “A Mind Is ...” gala, Friday in Florence, a celebration for members in nine S.C. counties, including Horry.
The daughter of a World War II veteran and an English teacher sees promoting the value of a college education as her way of giving back a slice of the fortune she found on campus in Florida.
Angela Robinson – also known as Veronica Harrington from the Tyler Perry TV series “The Haves and the Have Nots” – will be the special guest for the 22nd annual Pee Dee Area United Negro College Fund “A Mind Is ...” Gala, at 7:30 p.m. Friday at the Florence Civic Center, a celebration for members in nine S.C. counties, including Horry.
Students receive scholarships to attend five S.C. UNCF-member institutions: Allen University and Benedict College, both of Columbia; Claflin University of Orangeburg; Morris College of Sumter; and Voorhees College of Denmark.
Robinson, who with husband Scott Whitehurst, leads a consulting firm for acting aspirants and pros, called last month from home base in New Jersey to speak about UNCF’s statewide goal from a campaign through May to raise $735,000 and the Pee Dee Area chapter’s hopes to provide $150,000 toward that total, with help from the weekend gala.
“Even if you can’t come, give,” she said.
Question | How cherished is this honor to promote United Negro College Fund, which here in South Carolina, makes the ultimate difference for students at five colleges?
Answer | It’s an honor to do it. I am a graduate of a historically black college. It’s my way of, not only giving back, but also to think about my own education process and the value of it, and how much it means to me.
Q. | When you were earning your degree in musical theater in Tallahassee, and amid winning former Miss Florida A&M University, at what point had you realized that going to college really punched a ticket not just for a career, but that pathway to pursue anything and everything in life?
A. | It’s certainly not just for a career. When I was in college, I had no idea what I wanted to do. I went to college with parents saying, “You can’t major in theater.” It was kind of five years spinning my wheels just to be an actor, but the education I received was priceless, even though I wasn’t specified with a major. The education I received was well rounded, an education involving community, responsibility, and my responsibility to my community involving history, which I don’t think I would have gotten as accurately anywhere else.
It’s for my own history and legacy, to see how those who went before me and all they paid and all they did, just to get an education.
My father was paying for it; it wasn’t about the money, and race wasn’t an issue. I was fortunate because so many people have paid such a price for me to be able to do that. For those people, I was always grateful.
Q. | Last week, my turntable got a spin with an old LP that begins with “Lady Love” by the late Lou Rawls, an Army veteran who never even attended college and whose “The Lou Rawls Parade of Stars” began a staple of an annual telethon that continues as “An Evening of Stars: A Celebration of Educational Excellence.” When you saw the show every year as a youngster, what went through your mind about the value of going to college, and now you’re helping extend Rawls’ legacy?
A. | I would watch it with my family, and wait for the stars come on. It was a big thing for us. My father was active in helping people to go to college; to me, it was like watching my daddy.
I did a musical years a couple of years later in Philadelphia, “Me and Mrs. Jones,"” and I’m in Florida at church, and I get a call saying, “Our leading lady has to go, and our show is such a hit and has been extended. You have three days to learn the part. Can you come up?”
I asked what is it about and was told “it stars Lou Rawls as a judge, and you will play Mrs. Jones.” I got on the next plane to Philadelphia, and I got the honor of playing his wife. It was so great. ...
When I did get to know him, I saw that was a real passion for him ... to commit your life to something that does such good work and helps so many people is so admirable. .... He was just so very humble.
Q. | Having “The Haves and the Have Nots” set in Savannah, Ga., does that make you feel closer to your hometown Jacksonville, just down Interstate 95?
A. | In a little way. I’ve always told people that I’m Southern, and they say, “No, you’re from Florida. ... Jacksonville, Fla., is right next to Georgia. I feel like it’s close to home. That character isn’t from Savannah, so I don’t have to worry about an accent.
Q. | Has playing, and having to think on camera like, Veronica Harrington, opened up a new of looking at such crafty individuals in the real world? Is it easy to leave that character at the office per se?
A. | Yes. It’s easy to leave Veronica, but I look forward to every opportunity I get to put her on and play that character. I think it’s one of the extra times in an actor’s career that we get to play a very accomplished character. ... It’s a real treat to have a character who shows many different sides.
Q. | What extra special side of John Schneider – besides being Hazzard County’s "Bo Duke," a country music star, and a past co-host for PBS’ “A Capitol Fourth” – has filming “The Have and the Have Nots” afforded you? Anything to make you laugh?
A. | He is the funniest guy you ever want to meet. He is compassionate, and he is very sensitive, which I think he has to be as an artist. He’s sensitive in a beautiful way that he feels it when you aren’t feeling very well. He’s that kind of person who gives you a hug and asks, “Are you feeling OK?”
I know Bo Duke; who didn’t? He is still eye candy.
This guy he does not disappoint. He is a huge star, but he’s one of us. And most of us on “The Haves and the Have Nots” are really new to the television land, not to acting, but definitely to television. He just embraced all of us.
Q. | Any other projects in the works?
A. | I’ve been doing a lot of speaking engagements, a lot of motivational speaking, and working on some recording projects with a gospel choir of all Broadway performers – the Broadway Inspirational Voices – and we’re releasing a Christmas album, “Great Joy II: Around The World!”
And in acting for “The Haves and the Have Nots,” we just wrapped up. It’s just so funny.
Q. | When the third season returns to TV on Jan. 6, for what capers or adventures should viewers be most attentive on the series?
A. | No one thing; just be on the lookout for probably the wildest ride yet. The audience will be on the edge of their seats after each episode.
Contact STEVE PALISIN at 444-1764 or on Twitter @MBKicks.
If you go
What | 22nd annual Pee Dee Area United Negro College Fund “A Mind Is ... ” Gala
Pee Dee Area UNCF, with members from nine S.C. counties: Darlington, Dillon, Florence, Horry, Lee, Marion, Marlboro, Sumter and Williamsburg.
Students to attend five S.C. UNCF-member institutions: Allen University and Benedict College, both of Columbia; Claflin University of Orangeburg; Morris College of Sumter; and Voorhees College of Denmark.
When | 7:30 p.m. Friday (doors open 6:30 p.m.)
Where | Florence Civic Center, 3300 West Radio Drive, at Interstates 95 and 20
How much | $100, with a portion that also is tax deductible
Special guest | Angela Robinson, who plays Veronica Harrington on Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and the Have Nots” series on OWN (Oprah Winfrey Network) on cable – for which its third season will premiere Jan. 6.
Includes | Live music by The Painted Man
Information | 843-662-4164, 843-319-2675 or www.uncf.org, and www.arobinsonartist.com