I received an all expense paid trip thanks to Disney. All my opinions are my own and not swayed by outside sources. Pictures given with permission from Disney and Becky from MySparklingLife.com
I had the pleasure to interview so many wonderful actors through various Disney press trips that I have been fortunate enough to go on. However, the interview with Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito really has stuck with me as one of my favorites because the talk was so endearing. I left with actual chills because I was so motivated to live a happier life and be the best mom I could be, after hearing them both talk. They were both so awe-inspiring that it had me wanting more time with them.
When both Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito entered the room, they were both so gracious and excited to talk to us. The first question I got on my return from friends about the #JungleBookEvent was, ” Is Lupita Nyong’o as personable and beautiful as she seems?” The answer is an outstanding YES! She has such an amazing heart and she is amazingly BEAUTIFUL! The pictures on the red carpet don’t even do it justice. She is that pretty! In the Jungle Book, Lupita plays the role Raksha and she does so with such a warm heart. She is so passionate and is a true family actress in every sense of the word.
My next observation after finishing the interview was how AMAZING Giancarlo Esposito. In the film he plays the role of Akela, however he is no stranger to the acting world. Some of Giancarlo Esposito past credits include The Usual Suspects, Smoke, Bob Roberts, and most noticeably as Gustavo Fring on Breaking Bad. During our interview I noticed what a zest he has for life and it is apparent that he is blessed to be given his fantastic family (consisting of his four girls) and the chance to really show the world who is. I almost thought of him as a motivational speaker since I left ready to try to fulfill my ambitions and live life to the fullest.
We started the interview with asking if they saw the film and both said no. At the red carpet premiere later that night, would be the first time the two of them saw the film. I was so EXCITED for them because their work is really genius in The Jungle Book and they were excited to see it with their acting family.
” Wow. Well, I have a lot of very, very powerful women in my life. My mother being the first. And most important. But in my culture, in my mother’s sisters are also my mother. And my father’s sisters are my mother’s, too. So I’ve have many mothers.My mom has a fierce love. She has a fierce love for her children. And she’s known to say things like if you die I’ll kill you.
For me, that spirit, that tenacity of mothering was something that I thought of. And that inspired my version of Raksha. Because it takes a woman with one huge heart to take on not only a child that’s not hers, but of a completely different species. And the fact that she does this and she doesn’t look back, and she does everything in her power to protect that child. And then to have to let go of that child as well, that takes even more love. To allow your children to do what they need to do. And all mothers go through that. I know I went through that with my mother. And as a child, you don’t appreciate it until you’re much older, and you realize how hard it is to make new connections and then how hard it is to lose those connections. So those were things I was definitely thinking about. And I love my mommy.”- Lupita Nyong’o.
I absolutely LOVED her answer for this. As a girl who loves her mommy and her children, this resonated very deeply for me. You can see how much she truly cares for her family foremost and it was refreshing to see.
Giancarlo told us he had a very interesting story. He was working on Destiny’s trailer with Jon Favreau. He told us he done a show called Revolution with Jon Favreau. Once that finished Jon asked if he would come and do a commercial with him for the day for the trailer of Destiny. At this time the main character was reading The Law of the Jungle to his son and they both thought how wonderful it would be do the live action of The Jungle Book. They had a wonderful and marvelous conversation about how it would be wonderful to do this movie again and re-envision it for a new generation. A year and half after this, filming started.
“And he said, are you in? I said, of course I’m in. I had read this book when I was probably about 10 years old. And my mother and I talked about it afterwards. She’d have me read everything from Edgar Allen Poe’s The Raven to Shakespeare, to Kipling. I was really moved by Kipling because of his background. Where he was raised. He was born in India, and he was raised through that caste system that. He’s an Indian in London and this story was such a story of freedom. In music, in jazz music, they say there’s no freedom without time.
You can’t be free without time. There has to be a parameter, a meter to measure to be free within. And it makes me think so much about this particular time of this book. There was so much going on in the world. So that’s how I got involved! Jon asked me and my life was coming full circle. To be able to, to be in this particular story, which is told in a new way with more eminent danger, yet with a great deal of compassion and understanding for the world which it’s placed in, which is our world of now.”- Giancarlo Esposito
Lupita told us it was her very first role that she performed in after she got off the 12 Years a Slave ‘train’. She loved the idea of playing a mother, which is something that she hadn’t yet done. It allowed her to do it in voice-over and try something new. She also always loved children and has been fantasizing about children since 2.5 years old, so this was an ideal role to actually play a mother figure.
3. What was the recording process like?- asked to Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito
” Very different because technology has changed so much in the last few years. I love being on the mic. There’s a special relationship that your whole being nurtures when you’re on the mic. And I started working with RKO when I was seven years old, and couldn’t get my face in front of a camera because I wasn’t black enough. Back in the ‘60s and ‘70s. It was really interesting situation. So I went on the mic because I wasn’t regarded as black ‘cause I’m half Italian and from Europe and all these things.
But because I spoke well I would do recordings that would teach young black kids how to speak English. So I gained a relationship with the mic. With this Jon put up cameras, three different cameras that sort of in a way captured our motion so that he could blend our physicality with the physicality that he was planning for the wolves. I learned so much from just being in the studio a couple of different times.”- Giancarlo Esposito
4. Do you identify with Akela as you were playing the role?
” Oh, in so many ways. I’m a male, and on the way in Lupita was talking about another film she did, and there was a lot of testosterone, energy! I have four daughters with the eldest being 19, the youngest being 12, so I watched all of them journey into motherhood. Motherhood is very deep. It starts when you’re very, very young. Now, my 12 year old comes in, wants to put me to bed. And she’ll put her hand on my forehead and say the prayer with me. As for years I’ve done for her! It’s almost like a very beautiful, natural transition.
So while Lupita and you guys have been talking back and forth about motherhood, I have this vision that I’m really watching each one of my daughters start to become women and mothers. And this is what’s gonna save our planet. I know it. Because there’s such a grace and understanding in the female persona when women have really come into their own. Part of that is to have children, and to be caring for those children, and not only in the care for them, but also in the nurturing and raising of them, they have to pass on their, their souls, and their intelligence.
And all those things can’t be taught. It’s something that, that in the essence of a woman, the essence of a mother, a mother knows! I have learned to listen through raising four daughters but I have learned to become a progressive man because I have four women in my life. And their mother, who I’m not married to anymore, but who impresses me because of our relationship. Because we have a very deep and friendly relationship that is completely about who we really are now. Before it was husband, wife, mother, father. But now it’s about who we are as human beings. Because we didn’t give up on each other. And because we didn’t hurt each other and blister each other from a divorce. We became tight. Best friends. And more than that even, because now we’re best parents. So our children look at us differently. It is this strength of the mother that is going to change the way the world is. It’s the compassion, the love, the very open spirited mother, and woman that will move us forward in this new century. It’s no doubt.
I told you all HE IS AWESOME!!! I had a grin ear to ear hearing him talk like this!
Question 5: What is one thing you want children to take back from your character? What’s one example or role model quality that you want the kids to see from this movie?- asked to Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito
Lupita Nyong’o told us is was Mowgli dealing with finding his belonging in the world.
“And what Raksha offers him is home. Her home. And as an anchor. And I think that’s a really important thing for children to have. That they can veer away from it, but always be able to come back when they need to.” -Lupita Nyong’o
“We want to remember to be playful! We are here in this wonderful and incredible world! Like, the grand architect of the universe created this playground. And we’re supposed to have fun, and we’re supposed to play. So when you think of the four letter word called work, you want to think how do I translate that into play? To be playful? To help bring people to their best selves? To not be so about me, me, me all the time. I can play more! I can not worry that the hair is out of place, or the, the eyelash is not happening! You know what I mean? I forget about… I don’t care anymore! I just want to serve up the goodness and grace that’s been given to me because I made a choice that lined up with my passion. And that’s what I tell my kids. And what I want people to get from this movie is that sense of freedom, that sense of abandonment in the ride, of this film, the sense of connection with family, even if you don’t have a family.
The sense of trust that someone’s gonna adopt you and take care of you. That sense of really being engaged by the world. This is what I would love people to take from this film. Because that’s our life! We think it’s all these other things until we get to a certain point some of us never get there, where we go, oh my gosh! Did I just miss it? You know? This is what life’s about! It’s not about all the other things we may think it’s about! I think people are gonna feel it in this film. If anything, all the folks who’ve come and talked to us in press today, their hearts have been opened!”- Giancarlo Esposito
NEVER A TRUER STATEMENT SAID!
6. So you were very well read as a child. Do you have a favorite book interview?- asked to Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito
Giancarlo told us The Jungle Book was certainly one of his favorites. He also liked the poems of Edgar Allen Poe. They were very dark, he told us. Lupita told us she loves the BFG, which is another story Disney is releasing this year on the big screen. She told us that when she was younger, she preferred climbing trees and making up her own words, rather than reading.
7. So what’s next for you? -asked to Lupita Nyong’o and Giancarlo Esposito
” I’ve just made my second feature film as a director called This is Your Death.It’s an unflinching look at reality television. And it’s very provocative and profound. I locked the picture on Friday.and hoping I can go into my finishing. So I’ll be finishing the movie this month in Vancouver doing all the technical stuff that I need to do on it. And I’ve started on Maze Runner 3, the Death Cure.”- Giancarlo Esposito
” I’m working with the History Channel on a story of the first black US Marshall named Bass Reeves. It’s a story about their relationship. So I’m excited because I’m able to do very different things and it’s kinda lovely to be able to play in television and play in film. I have this coming out, and Money Monster coming out in April. I’m hitting my stride again. It’s kinda nice.”- Giancarlo Esposito
” Well, I am on Broadway at the moment. I’m doing a show called Eclipsed by Danai Gurira. You might know her from The Walking Dead. She’s written this five female play about women in the Liberian civil war, and how they each individually deal with war and get themselves out of very dire situations. We are the first all female performed, directed, and written play on Broadway. And, not to mention, we’re all black. It’s a milestone. I’m really proud of. I love going to work every day. It exhausts me. And I earn my rest! And I wake up and I do it again, and I just feel so blessed to be able to do this story that means so much to me, means so much to my continent, and is meaning so much to the very diverse audience that’s coming to see it. So if you’re in New York, come check us out. I have other things I cannot talk about yet too in the works.”- Lupita Nyong’o
Both interviews were extremely moving and it was a delight to be given this opportunity to be able to interview them!
Be sure to watch them both in The Jungle Book, which comes out this Friday, April 15th!