Diahann Carroll Talks About Her New 'White Collar' Role

The legendary actress talks about guest-starring on the USA series.

Diahann Carroll talks White Collar
Diahann Carroll talks White Collar
White Collar is the latest hit series to come out of the highly-popular USA Network and in the series' next episode, Home Invasion, seres stars Matt Bomer and Tim DeKay will be joined by a very special guest star, Diahann Carroll. The episode airs tonight, February 9 at 10 PM ET on USA and the actress recently held a conference call to discuss her role in this new episode. Here's what she had to say.

I wanted to know-how did the role come about on White Collar?

Diahann Carroll: The creator, actually, is the person who approached us about doing this role and he really understood the period of time that was-my character, June-that was her hey-day and I thought, well, this is going to be really great fun because it goes back to the period of the Rat Pack and she was, obviously, a part of it to the degree where she was married to one of the musicians, or-it's not exactly clear what he wants to do with that area of it and that's another thing that I love-the creativity as you go along. That's how she meets the main character, getting rid of some of the clothing that she has kept, her memorabilia from that period that was a wonderful time in her life, but actually, he has a great feeling for that period of time, and so it's been, really, a joy being there and doing it.

In your career you seem to have done it all. Is there anything that you still have yet to accomplish?

Diahann Carroll: That's a great question. I appreciate that question and I really have not done it all, but, I mean, in terms of-I've done theater and television and film and nightclubs, that is true, but I really would love another opportunity to do something as fascinating as Dynasty was, on television. I really enjoyed doing that and I'd like to see something like that come about again. Something that is totally absurd and fun.

I'm really enjoying your character on White Collar. I wanted to know, as the first black woman to star in your own TV show, what are your feelings about how it's changed for, not just black women, but for minority women, today?

Diahann Carroll: Well, I would have to say that I have a positive feeling about that. There are so many shows on the air that I'm not really familiar, but I do believe that the stereotypical woman that was dominating television when I started, we've done away with that, for all of but what we call third world women-people-and that's very gratifying that we've done that. The integrating is still not on a level that I would like to see it, but I do think it's coming. I do feel that we are trying and that it's getting better.

You think we still have a long way to go?

Diahann Carroll: Oh, indeed. Yes, we do.

Could you tell us anything about June? What's going to be happening with her on the remainder of the season of White Collar?

Diahann Carroll: June is, at this moment, enjoying her relationship with her new found friend and I think that they're just getting, really, to know each other under all circumstances and she trusts him and is fascinated by him and also his friend. The characters are developing into very interesting-I'm trying to think of, the young man with the glasses-

Willie Garson. He plays Mozzie.

Diahann Carroll: Oh, he's a wonderful character and I think all of it together is something that I'm enjoying having to relate to that.

As a cancer survivor myself, and I know that you're an activist for breast cancer, and have had a personal experience and I understand you have a program coming up about that and I was wondering if you would mind sharing, with us, your thoughts about that.

Diahann Carroll: Any time I have the opportunity to talk, particularly to women who are going through what I experienced, it's always a very gratifying exchange for me and I learned something and I hope that I give them something in return, something they can use, something they can move on, and I think that's one of the best things-one of the perks actually if that can be called a perk-when one knows that they have breast cancer-is the exchange, meeting each other, discussing, making new friends, learning new things that they have done that they can pass along to me, and vice verse, and that's what we will be doing.

Do you know where that will be airing or broadcasting?

Diahann Carroll: No, I don't. I'm sorry. I hope everyplace.

So it's a program that is developing, yes?

Diahann Carroll: Yes. Absolutely.

You were around when African Americans were first starting in television, so I was wondering-you were talking about that we needed to be-people of color need to be more integrated in television and you said that that was coming. What can-what are some things that can be done to help facilitate that integration?

Diahann Carroll: I suppose our lives need to be more integrated. We have white communities and black communities and white country clubs and black country clubs. It's very important when we integrate ourselves, and it helps us to have a better understanding of the world, to people all over the world and this is the time in history that we have become very aware of how important that is, so I think it's just really-we have to know each other and work together and play together in order to write about each other.

I'm always interested to think about what actors think about when they read writing, and so, the question I have for you is what do you look for in a script that helps you identify with your character?

Diahann Carroll: Oh dear, that's a very complicated question. Identify. It can be a negative too, you know, ... something that someone has written on the page. It's not always something that you are able to verbalize. It's something that happens intrinsically and also if there's ... action to some the action that is required of the character and it moves you in a way that is different from anything else that's on your desk, that's the piece that you will respond to and wish to have as a part of your life and as a part of your legacy. It's something that's inexplicable, really, that's down in your gut and it's moved by something that makes you feel "I'd like to do that, I'd like to be able to say that and make people hear me because I think it's important," even if it's not-even if it's a negative, it'd still be important, so I think that's as much as I can say about it, because it's something that really is emotional and difficult to verbalize.

When you were saying negative, were you talking more of negative as far as the role being perceived as negative, or just a gut reaction to what you see on the page, being negative?

Diahann Carroll: If the role is negative on the page, and by negative I can-it can also be not negative to someone else. Someone may have a terrible reaction ... someone is playing a whore and someone else may not have that same understanding of the role, so that's why I say, it's such an emotional reaction each time, that it's very hard to say why you want to play a role. It's something you feel-a kinship-and you know that you can make it understood or felt easily by others, I think.

I wanted to ask you, what would you say is one of the most important lessons that you've learned, throughout your career? Is there any advice you would share with an aspiring actor or actress?

Diahann Carroll: I think, probably, the lesson that I would hope everyone would learn quite early in their career is don't take it personally. Whatever it is that happens, you're accepted for a role or rejected for a role of whatever, don't take it personally. It's part of the business and the person that is either hiring or firing-that's their business. That's what they are there for and it has nothing to do with how you feel about ... It has to do with someone else's perception of should you, or can you, do this particular part, so just don't take it personally,. The business is really about rejection, so don't take it personally.

If there was one thing you could tell your fans from White Collar about your character that they would find surprising, what would it be?

Diahann Carroll: I think the relationship with Matt is very interesting and it's something that I see in my life, constantly, and that is women who are no longer young seem to find young men interesting and amusing, whereas they were not as interesting and amusing when I was young, and I think that happens to most women. We can afford that kind of relationship at this age.

Are we going to get a glimpse of your musical side on White Collar?

Diahann Carroll: I don't know. We have thought about it. We've never brought that conversation to a conclusion, but it would please me. We'd just have to find out how and where it makes sense, if our writers can find that.

I would love to see that.

Diahann Carroll: I would, too and I trust them, because the writers are outstanding, and I would trust therm to find the right circumstances, which would make me comfortable.

I noticed White Collar has become a real hit with fans. I just want to know, what is it about the show that you think draws in the viewers?

Diahann Carroll: Oh, so many things and not only is Matt beautiful, and his partner Tim, is a very handsome man also, the writing is outstanding, I think, and the look of it, it brings you into it immediately. You want to know what is going on in that set and you want to know who these people are, that operate in that-it's a very-it grabs you, as we say on the ... It's a grabber and, once again, I must make comment about the writing. It's really wonderful.

I also what to know, have you learned anything interesting about the FBI, or con men, since being on the show?

Diahann Carroll: No. I knew a great deal about that before, and in particular, con men, but I think every week, we all learn a little something, but more than anything I think the characters-who they are-is more important than the FBI.

How much will June factor into the remaining episodes for this season and will she return next season?

Diahann Carroll: Well, we'll have to ask the person who ... it ... but, this season, yes she has some very interesting things to do this season. I'm not going to let the cat out of the bag. She has lots of things to do.

You can watch Diahann Carroll guest star in the new episode of White Collar, which airs tonight Tuesday, February 9 at 10 PM ET on the USA Network.

White Collar episode 1.11, "Home Invasion" stars Matthew Bomer, Tim DeKay, Willie Garson, Natalie Morales, Tiffani Thiessen, Gloria Votsis, Sarah Carter, James Rebhorn} and is directed by Ken Girotti}.


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