Afrobella of the Week: CCH Pounder, Captain Afrobella

We have a television schedule around the household. Sunday night’s The Sopranos, Monday night’s 24 and Heroes. Wednesday’s Lost. Thursday it’s all about comedy night done right, especially my two favorite sitcoms, The Office and 30 Rock. And Tuesday night belongs to The Shield. What a show!

The Shield is one of the most intense, addictive television shows ever. Forest Whitaker. Glenn Close. Michael Chiklis. Every actor who is on the show is at the top of their game. The big-name stars garner quite a bit of attention on the show — Forest Whitaker’s scenes with Michael Chiklis were indisputably some of the best on television. But every character on the show is fully developed and interesting in their own right, they all fully embody their roles within the police department. And the woman who runs the station, Captain Claudette Wyms, is one of the most bad-ass, no-nonsense characters on television today. She’s played by CCH Pounder, an afrobella with poise, presence, and a fierce TWA.

Originally, her character was intended to be played by a man, but the casting director and producers discovered that CCH Pounder’s personal strength transcended gender. She’s got a quiet thunder, and the command she possesses totally qualifies her to stand as one of the guys on the macho set. The secret to her success is persistence and confidence. A lot of that comes from her childhood.

Carol Christine Hilaria Pounder was born on Christmas Day 1952, in Guyana. She was raised on a sugar cane plantation and has said in interviews, she needed to take a taxi, then a boat, and finally a school bus just to get to school every day. She worked hard to earn her education, and to make her way as an actress. She paints a funny and vivid portrait of her early struggle to hide her career from her disapproving parents in this NPR interview with Ed Gordon.

Her early filmography is liberally sprinkled with “victim” roles, one-note character actor guest spots on prime time dramas. Miami Vice, Hill Street Blues, Cagney and Lacey, Quantum Leap. In between those roles, she did fine film work, earning accolades in All That Jazz, and making a name for herself in the film version of Bagdad Cafe (Whoopi Goldberg played her role in the short-lived television version, and the song Calling You was featured on the soundtrack).

But a role as a judge on LA Law made a turning point in her career, and set CCH Pounder as the go-to afrobella for strong female characters. After that, she did amazing work as Dr. Angela Hicks on ER, and kept filling up her resume with an admirable collection of guest roles on Millennium, The West Wing, The Practice, and Law and Order SVU.

In that previously linked Ed Gordon interview, she revealed the key to her consistent employment in a town where black actresses often get slept on and passed over:

I don’t put down the script because they’re only whites in it. I don’t put down the script because it’s all men, I don’t put down the script because there’s an accent required. So I keep finding a way that I can work successfully.”

So it’s all about not giving up, and continually challenging yourself to rise beyond what others may expect of you. What you may expect of yourself. If you work hard enough and believe in yourself, you can achieve anything. That’s what I get from CCH Pounder’s story. Like her character on The Shield, she’s risen to prominence and power as a result of her dedication and strength. And she remains close to her Caribbean roots — in fact, on May 26, CCH Pounder will join her countrymen in New York City to celebrate 41 years of Guyanese independence. Her upcoming role in James Cameron’s Avatar is already garnering buzz, and the film won’t be released until 2009!

If you don’t already watch The Shield, I hope this clip will make you want to tune in.

Dramatic, huh? She’s such a great actress. Spoiler alert: That scene took place at the end of the seventh episode of season five, and we’re into season six now. Claudette fainted because she had lupus, a fact that she chose not to disclose to her co-workers for fear of seeming weak. Despite her illness, Claudette got a promotion after that incident. She’s now running The Barn, doing her best to keep the Strike Team in line (and clashing often with Vic Mackey), and fighting for what’s best for the station.

Claudette’s former detective partner, Dutch, believes that she made him a better detective. I believe that CCH Pounder makes The Shield a better show. She’s a vitally important character, and I feel a swell of pride every time she’s on the screen.

Congrats, CCH Pounder! You’re Afrobella of the Week!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Comments

  1. simone says:

    wow. well, it is very beautiful — cch’s acting, claudette’s power – cch’s face, that crown of red fire. i’m trying to figure out the significance of claudette’s illness in relation to her physical and personal strength. what does it mean that a black woman character persists no matter what? that only total incapacitation will stop her?

    there was an article in the nytimes this week about grey’s anatomy’s women characters, which i thought accurately identified a striking conundrum: ambitious, career-minded women who are undone emotionally. is being a basket case what counts as vulnerability? the only way to make such a powerful woman human? or is it revenge?

    and in claudette’s case, i can’t help but draw a sickening parallel between the way the killer reduced women to things and the way his interrogator is reduced to fallen doll on the staircase.

    it really is that hard for black women to be recognized. we have to endure everything, suffer anything to be seen as excellent. i hope we survive our ambition.

    still, i feel beautiful looking at cch and i feel strong looking at claudette. i want to take care of her.

  2. Mrs518 says:

    I love your site, each Afrobella of the week gets better, I remember watching her when I was in Middle School on Er and I thought she was fantastic. She is the epitome of excellence and she represents strong black women so beautifully. Thanks for another great blog.

  3. Yay Bella, count me in as a fan of the Shield also, CCH brings something to the screen that is both vulnerable and determined, she is a joy to watch.

  4. CCH Pounder is fantastic. I’ve got to listen to that Ed Gordon interview when I get home.

    *waving* Hey Bella!

  5. hooray! So happy to get response to this Afrobella of the Week, she’s a somewhat unconventional choice and I didn’t know how the response would be. She’s amazing, and I am so glad you bellas love her as much as I do.

    I see that there are several typos in my post… that’s what happens when you’re deliriously writing at 2 a.m… I’ll fix those missing “hers” and “thats” later. Hi Coffy! Hi Nichelle! Good morning, everyone!

  6. Love, love, love her! I’ve always thought she was a wonderful actress and I’ve always wondered what the CCH stood for. Thanks again ‘Bella for starting my day off with a good read and some knowledge. Great post.

  7. anonymous says:

    Excellent post! I’ve always loved CCH so it was nice to read about her background and find out what CCH stands for! I haven’t watched The Shield but that clip gave me chills.

  8. LBellatrix says:

    I don’t have cable but wow…that certainly woke me up this morning. I haven’t seen a whole lot of CCH Pounder’s work but what I have seen has been impressive.

    I’m also one of the 10 people in America who doesn’t watch Grey’s Anatomy but I’m going to check out that NY Times article mentioned in Simone’s comment.

  9. Thank you so much for showcasing C.C.H!! She is one of my favorites and rarely gets any play. In my bedroom, she is on my wall of my favorite sistah actors. I love her advice on getting more work as an actor, that is something I going to use in my acting career as well.

    I love coming to your site, everyday. You always have the best stuff, Afrobella. Have a beautiful week.

  10. The Shield is my favorite show, bar none. Why do people continue to sleep? This is the last season, and I don’t know what I will do when it’s over. I am doubly upset that there doesn’t appear to be any blogs for it. They don’t even recap it on TWOP. What’s up with that?

    CCH Pounder is a phenomenal actress though and her flaming red hairstyles have always been eye-catching. She is definitely an integral part of the show and she has just gotten better since she was made Captain. (Aceveda was a jerk! He still is!)

  11. I’ve seen her for a long time, but never knew her name. She is fierce! Strong, beautiful and Black! I love women like her because they take traditional standards of beauty and throw them out the window!

    Thanks for the Blog Bella!

  12. You know what else is fierce about her? She runs an art gallery in L.A., Pounder-Kone Art Space: http://www.cchpkas.com/

  13. Hi Bella! Awesome choice for Afrobella of the week! She’s a fantastic actress. I always see such strength and dignity in the characters she portrays. Can’t wait to see who you pick next week!!!!

  14. Claudette says:

    As a real-life Claudette and whose also half-Guyanese thank you for recognizing CCH Pounder as Afrobella of the Week! I never really got into The Shield but I remember her fondly from ER…she is a force to be reckoned with!

  15. Dang Bella! I’m hooked just from the clip! I remember her as Maxine’s mom on Living Single.

  16. CCH was EXCELLENT in Bagdad Cafe, which is one of my favorite movies…and that’s coming from someone that doesn’t like movies very much. She’s awesome. :)

  17. thanks so much for your site! i check it daily to be enriched. CCH is probably the most amazing woman I have heard and seen.

    lots of luv and blessings!
    And thanks for turning me onto The Shield:)

  18. Carolyn says:

    I’ve been a fan of Ms. Pounder’s work for decades. I’m old enough to have seen Bagdad Cafe in the theater, as an adult! I don’t have cable so I’ve missed out on the Shield, but based on this post I’ll be adding past seasons to my Netflix queue.

    Simone articulated my feelings about her perfectly…I too feel beautiful when I’m looking at her.

    And I also feel beautiful when I visit your site. Thank you for that.

  19. girl i think you just sold me on the Shield!

  20. Bagdad Cafe is one my all time favorite movies also and CCH Pounder is just wonderful in it. The haunting theme song “I Am Calling You” always gives me a chill. I have great admiration for this highly respected Afrobella. (I’m gonna have that tune in my head all day now! Thanks!)

  21. suzette says:

    My brother calls CCH “Chuch” as in “church” because she brings out the Holy Spirit whenever we see her. I’m so proud that she is this week’s bella. Have you done S. Epatha Merkerson from “Law & Order” yet? She’s another fierce female! Her character on the show wears a wig, but she is TWA and TWT (teeny weeny twists) in real life. I, too, wear wigs to work because corporate America fears the ‘fro. Would you address that in a future post? How to address the subtle (or overt) disdain for natural hair being perceived as unkempt, unprofessional, or unattractive?

  22. I love CCH what a great choice. I am waiting for the day she takes Vic down & hopefully it will jump off tonight (doubt it). The shield is filled with characters I love to hate.

    I love that fact that she is rocking a natural style epsecially in that hot red hue
    Whatever happened to her “man” He was there & gone with the quickness.

    I hope Aceveda goes down for , he was a hot mess last season with that prostitute he was held up with!

    I have not seen Bagdad Café in years, I may need to get that one.

    Peace,
    Bygbaby

  23. afrobello says:

    I haven’t faithfully followed her career, but thanks for posting this. Whenever I’ve seen her work, I’ve enjoyed it. That picture is intense. She’s fierce and stylish, not to mention ready to kick your a$$ if necessary. I feel for Suzette. Wearing wigs to make white folks on the job comfortable? I quit!

  24. Auragirl says:

    man? woman? yikes!

  25. suzette says:

    Afrobello, thank you for feeling my pain, but it unfortunately doesn’t translate to making a living. There are still hurdles to overcome when it comes to America’s view of natural blackness or black naturalness. When other black folks aren’t in love with our inate beauty, how can I expect mainstream and/or corporate (read: white) America to love it? I say again, how many BLACK TV characters, newscasters, talk show hosts, politicians, and corporate leaders wear NATURAL, unchemically-processed hair? You know, the visible black folks that make decisions and have true economic and/or political power? Wigs are just an accessory like makeup used to present an image. It is hilarious when my co-workers see me in my ‘fro and ask where I got the cool wig!!!

  26. CCH is indeed made of awesome. Another fantastic pick!

  27. MSN has named CCH Pounder one of the ten best actors on TV.
    http://tv.msn.com/tv/10bestactors?gt1=7703

  28. I LOVE CCH Pounder! I just finished watching the first season of Warehouse 13 on SyFy where she plays Mrs. Franklin, a straight laced, straight shooting head of a group of secret service agents and she rocks a textured coif.You can also catch her in Brothers with Michael Strahan, Friday nights on FOX.

  29. I.LOVE.CCH.POUNDER!! One of my favorite actors! Talented. Beautiful. Compelling. I’ve watched every single project she’s worked on.

  30. I have wanted to write about something like this on my webpage and this has given me an idea. Cheers.

Trackbacks

  1. [...] My favorites are by the amazing Ellen Burstyn, Candice Bergen, this one by Gillian Anderson’s daughter (which reminds me of a cross between Where the Wild Things Are and Aaah! Real Monsters), and this cool, Afrocentric landscape by former Afrobella of the Week CCH Pounder. [...]

  2. [...] she be back to a big ol’ fakety fake weave on September 9th? Is she going to let her hair sing like CCH Pounder, or is she going to straighten and lighten and beat it into submission? (Related reading: “My [...]

Speak Your Mind

*