Grovey's mother convinced her to stick with school, and she'll watch her daughter shake her booty on the big screen for the first time this month — as Earla, the choir choreographer in Joyful Noise — with Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah no less. CultureMap caught up with Grovey while she was in Houston for a family visit and a private screening of the film, which comes out nationwide on Friday.
CultureMap: What was it like working with Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah? They're both such strong women, and both very different — were there ever any clashes?
Angela Grovey: Um, amazing. They're both such sweet ladies — very, very down to earth and eager to share their experiences with us when we needed help. It felt very surreal at times.
And as for clashes, not at all. It was kind of like we were a really big family. It was a musical, so we all got to work together in the studio before we started filming . . . and there was no room for anything besides creating really awesome work together.
CM: Did the two leading ladies inspire you musically, either before or during the filming?
AG: Because of my roots, I have always had a big passion for country music. Seeing big acts at the rodeo, like Dolly Parton and Reba McEntire, definitely inspired me. And on-set, Dolly talked to us about what it is like to be so freakishly talented . . . It was really inspiring to know her story, that she felt like she had a voice and there was a place for it to be heard.
Dana, or Queen Latifah, put out a jazz album a couple of years ago, when I previously only knew of her rap. And then seeing her on-set, singing ballads and gospel songs, was amazing. She inspired me to not let anyone put you in a box . . . Constantly re-invent yourself. It was awesome to see her step into something I had never seen her do.
CM: You act primarily in theatre. How did you make the transition from Broadway to Hollywood?
AG: The interesting thing is that the director saw me performing in an Off Broadway show and actually wrote the part for me . . . He asked me to come in and read the script, and that was it.
CM: Tell me more about your role in the movie, as the choir choreographer. Do we catch a glimpse of you in the trailer? Did you feel like this part let you utilize your training?