Pam Grier On Snoop Dogg, Megan Thee Stallion And The Debut Of ‘Coffy’ 50 Years Ago

Plus, the screen legend reflects on her impact in the LGBTQ community.

Not many actors can't say after five decades in show business, they still have a thriving career. This isn't the case for screen goddess Pam Grier, who is celebrating 50 years since the release of Coffy and her latest flick Cinnamon drops on Friday. In 1973's Coffy, she played a femme fatale; in Cinnamon, she is a mother who wants revenge.  

In an interview with, Grier, 74, looks back on her epic career, offers advice to the young women artists of today and shows love to the LGBTQ community during this Pride Month. 

BET: Last week, marked 50 years since the release of Coffy. Can you reflect on 50 years since Coffy?

Coffy knocked James Bond out of the top of the box office. People were going to the movie like nine and 10 times. [Laughs] It established that we were comfortable with seeing our other cultures. We're not monolithic in our culture. It showed certain things that we hadn't seen, and it was fresh and new.

BET: When was the last time you spoke to Mr. Jack Hill, who wrote and directed Coffy and Foxy Brown?

A couple of years ago, he called to wish me congratulations and I said thank you for allowing me to play Coffy because it wasn't written for a woman of color. Being from Wyoming, hunting, shooting and guns and being in the military – I wasn't afraid of guns and martial arts and everything that I learned I could bring to the film without flinching. He said, “You taught me a lot about people of color because I hadn't seen that as well.”  We kind of molded a path for women in action films. He was the first one, there were no others.

BET: Many years ago, I interviewed RuPaul and he said one of the movies that had the biggest influence on his life was Coffy and Foxy Brown. It’s LGBT Pride Month, could you speak to the impact you’ ve had on drag culture?

Well, RuPaul basically taught me how to do my makeup. [Laughs] They supported me for years, they’d all be in jumpsuits and Afro wigs. They said, “You have something that we love, you believe in your beauty.” I had a few tragic incidents in my life, which I could have succumbed to. Each time, they would reach out to me and let me know that I mattered – that the jumpsuits and the hair, the makeup and everything meant something to them for the 70s, otherwise, you forget the decade of art and fashion. They kept going, they kept reviving it. I'm very grateful for that because it's art and not everyone gets it.  I'm very grateful to them. It's art, it is incredible what they do. I just think it's a culture that is us.

I did The L Word for six years with Jennifer Beals being my sister. I was able to be a beacon of light for many of the people who are very conservative in my communities to watch me in the show.  I was asked because I was around gay women, “Did I become gay?” [Sighs] We're family and I'm around many, many cultures.

BET: In 2001, you starred in a Snoop Dogg horror film called Bones, what are your memories of working with Snoop?

Oh, that was fun. I loved going into his trailer and getting a buzz. I loved that, but I liked the fact that he really liked science fiction and horror. I had done a video for him prior to that and we just wanted to have a reunion. I had a ball because I was in his dreams and he wanted to work with me and I wanted to work with him as well.

Pam Grier And Damon Wayans On Their Black Noir Film 'Cinnamon'

BET: You broke down so many barriers for women to own their sexuality and you were criticized for that at the time. Today, artists like Megan The Stallion are being criticized for owning their body and sexuality. What do you think when you see some of these young artists treated the same way you were 50 years ago?

It’s an ownership, owning women – entitled to a woman's body and  entitled to tell them what to do. Women have been in a position where people have owned them, women give up their power to marriage. I wouldn't marry the man who I've met who were wealthy and successful, because I would lose my independence, and they would be entitled to me. It's cultural, where you are vilified for showing your feminine, your political and intelligent femininity. There are men that still think they can own women and tell them what to do with their bodies.

BET: From Mama in Cinnamon to Coffy, how do you approach characters today versus when you started 50 years ago?

Back in the day, I would have approached it similarly. But I have the family and memories of people who are very much like Mama. These are people that I was raised with, working class – there's a culture of people that were very similar. I like  to experience the characters, if I can, that I portray. It gives me the subtext, it gives me my flavor and it gives me my beats. I like to do an in depth study, a character study of everyone I portray.

Watch Pam Grier in Cinnamon, streaming on Tubu June 23.

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