'Hunger Games' actress intimidated by Rosa Parks role, ponders Cleopatra next

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By Karu F. Daniels

Haitian-American actress Meta Golding is playing one of the most famous women in American civil rights history, starring as Rosa Parks in the movie “Behind The Movement.”

“It was quite intimidating, but such an honor to just even attempt to step into her shoes,” Golding told NBCBLK. "It’s a departure from her other roles, which include “C.S.I. Crime Scene Investigation” and “Criminal Minds” and a bloodthirsty evil doer in the big screen “Hunger Games” blockbusters.

The Alabama-born seamstress, who sparked off the civil rights movement — after refusing to give up her seat on a bus in 1955, is the centerpiece of “Behind The Movement,” which offers viewers a closer look at how the Montgomery Bus Boycott was planned in just three days and ultimately led to the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s.

Image: Meta Golding as Rosa Parks in the movie "Behind The Movement"
Meta Golding as Rosa Parks in the movie "Behind The Movement."TV One

Written by Katrina O'Gilvie and also starring former “Grey’s Anatomy” actor Isaiah Washington, screen and theater veteran Roger Guenveur Smith and Emmy Award winner Loretta Devine, the film offers up the untold story of how a group of everyday citizens decided the Rosa Parks incident was the right moment in time to take a stand for their civil rights and demand equal treatment.

“During that time, Mrs. Parks, Reverend King, they were all just people,” Golding explained. “She was a seamstress by day, activist on the side, and we all thought this story was also important because these were regular people. So besides the strategy, we also get to see the journey of Mrs. Parks and how that affected her emotionally to become the face of the boycott.”

The fact that Aric Avelino-directed project was filmed in just 13 days definitely added to her pressure too.

“I only had a couple weeks to prepare, and that was very daunting because I don't want to be known as the person who got Rosa Parks wrong, or [who] disrespected her legacy” Golding, 46, confided. “So, I was really afraid, but sometimes I think fear can be a catalyst to inspiration.”

Parks, who died in 2005 at the age of 92, relocated to Detroit and worked as a secretary for U.S. Representative John Conyers for over 20 years. She also penned two memoirs during the 1990s and appeared on the drama series “Touched by an Angel.”

The recipient of numerous awards including the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the Congressional Gold Medal, and a posthumous statue in the United States Capitol's National Statuary Hall, she was honored with a U.S. postage stamp commemorating her 100th birthday in 2013.

There have been other versions of Rosa Parks’ story, including the 2002 CBS movie “The Rosa Parks Story” with veteran actress Angela Bassett.

Image: Meta Golding as Rosa Parks in a scene from "Behind The Movement"
Meta Golding as Rosa Parks in a scene from the movie "Behind The Movement."TV One

But Golding believes there are a number of reasons why a new Rosa Parks movie is necessary.

“Well the timing couldn't be better because it [was] Rosa Parks' birthday [last] Sunday and it's Black History Month,” she explained. “ And I think [within] this last year we have seen the reemergence of people protesting and becoming more active in our civic life. Everything from Black Lives Matter to Me Too and Time's Up. So I think it's really timely because you also see the, it's a female story. I think it's really relevant today.”

The former soap opera actress has her eyes set on another iconic role for her next project.

“Well, I'm gonna be starring as Cleopatra. Steven Spielberg is directing and I'm really looking forward to it,” she quipped.

“Yeah. I'm kidding,” she chuckled. “No. I'm trying to figure out what to do next because this is a tall order. What do you do after Rosa Parks, right? And the only thing I can think of is Cleopatra, so I'm putting it out there in the universe.”

“Behind The Movement” premiered Feb. 11 on TV One. An encore presentation will air on Feb. 13 at 8:00 p.m. ET and on Feb. 18 at 6:00 p.m. ET.

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