‘Masters of the Game’ Season 4 premieres with an interview with Jeffrey Wright

OPINION: The brilliant actor breaks down what it means to be a master actor.

Touré (left) interviews actor Jeffrey Wright to begin a new season of "Masters of the Game." Credit: TheGrio

Editor’s note: The following article is an op-ed, and the views expressed are the author’s own. Read more opinions on theGrio.

Interviewing Jeffrey Wright is a joy. Just before the Oscars, I spoke to him in Los Angeles for the next episode of “Masters of the Game, which launches Season 4 on March 29 on theGrioTV. He was riding high on the wings of his brilliant starring role in “American Fiction,” one of the best films of 2023. I know Wright. We live in the same Brooklyn neighborhood, and we run into each other from time to time. He’s always got a kind smile for an old friend. 

Wright is one of the best actors in Hollywood. He’s a master of his craft, and I’m thrilled every time I see him pop up from playing Commissioner Gordon in “The Batman” to Roebuck Wright in “The French Dispatch.” His acting shows his intelligence and his understanding of human nature. 

Because it’s “Masters of the Game,” I wanted to hear him talk about what it means to be a master actor.  Three big ideas stand out from our hour-long conversation.

First, to be a master actor, it’s valuable to be truly immersed in the work. When Wright was much younger, back when he was working on his first big film role in “Basquiat,” he thought about work all the time. “Early in my career,” he said, “I could think about a character for 24 hours a day. In ‘Basquiat,’ I thought about that man’s life in my dreams.” He continued,I could immerse myself.” He was diving soul deep into his characters and you could feel that intensity in the work. It established him quickly as an important actor. 

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That said, as an artist who’s also a parent, he’s learned to channel his immersive moments because he can’t quite lose himself in the work in the same way. “Can’t do that anymore,” he said. “Got kids. You know, it’s not always about creative purity. You have pragmatic considerations to make. My kids, I don’t know about yours, they insist on eating every day. Multiple times per day. At least three to four. For years they did this.” I’ve seen these voracious little people. They’re very cute.

Second, to be a master actor, it’s crucial to be precise with your language. “I’ve always, for as long as I could remember,” Wright said, “had a real appreciation for dialogue, for language, for the way people talk, for the way they express music through their language.” Wright talked about growing up near Washington, D.C., and learning to hear the musical differences in the ways people spoke. Part of what’s so captivating about Wright as an actor is the way he employs rhythm and music in his dialogue. It’s fascinating to hear how he began thinking about that as a child. 

Third, to be a master actor is to know how to use your eyes. “I like the intimacy of the camera,” he said. “And I like to work with what I think are the most powerful tools for an actor on camera, the eyes. So I try to just, you know, express story, and ideas and emotion and all that, really, primarily with the eyes. The body is involved, of course, and everything else, but the eyes are the window. You get the most story from the eyes.” 

For more of Wright’s master class on acting, check out our interview on “Masters of the Game.”

Touré, theGrio.com

Touré is a host and Creative Director at theGrio. He is the host of Masters of the Game on theGrioTV. He is also the host and creator of the docuseries podcast “Being Black: The ’80s” and the animated show “Star Stories with Toure” which you can find at TheGrio.com/starstories. He is also the host of the podcast “Toure Show” and the podcast docuseries “Who Was Prince?” He is the author of eight books including the Prince biography Nothing Compares 2 U and the ebook The Ivy League Counterfeiter.

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