In our first INTERVUE of 2020, I am talking to Bianca Bethune as she returns to the big screen in the upcoming sequel, Bad Boys for Life, next Friday. She is reprising the role of Megan Burnett, the daughter of Marcus played by Martin Lawrence and the niece of Mike Lowery played by Wil Smith. She originated the role, her very first movie role, way back in 2003. Since then, she has been building her resume including a three year in the Freeform series Switched at Birth with all the while of taking care of one of the most inspirational and positive women in her life, her mother.
Let’s catch up with the amazing Bianca!
Now, it’s been seventeen years since we’ve seen Will and Martin. Did you ever feel during all this time that you were going to get the call to reprise that role and and be in the third movie of this trilogy?
Yes, absolutely. I’m a strong believer of manifestation, so over the years—probably the last four years—I’ve started seeing more articles saying Bad Boys 3 was for sure happening.
For a while, it was just a thought or a dream. (laughs) These last couple of years has been more definite. But I’ve made sure I kept an eye on who casting directors were producers, directors so when the opportunity did come around, I was ready. As soon as I saw Will and Martin post that video saying it was official, it was official for me too.
Excellent, that’s good to hear. So, what do you like about the role of Megan Burnett? Since we’ve seen her in all three films, but you joined in in the second film, is that correct?
That’s correct, but my character in the first film was an infant, so I technically was there in the story from the beginning. I enjoy being Megan because they create a character arc for me where I come in to add value to the other characters. I feel my character can stand alone and hold memory to a lot of audience members, because when I say who I am, they look at me and go, “that’s right, you are! You’re Megan from the movie!” I love that longevity that is given to me and my career. I’m able to use that for so much longer than I would’ve thought it would.
Excellent. I’m hoping you can answer this question. What has Megan been up to since we last saw her, since it’s been seventeen years, and we remember that scene where the two boys confronted her boyfriend that she was dating, which I find hilarious to this day.
Yes, it’s so funny. I feel like a lot of shows come and take that story, that little scene right there and use it for the boyfriend. The boyfriend’s coming through the door and alright, let’s get him. Make him scared.
But you guys have to wait and see. There’s a lot, a lot of surprises in the new movie, so I can’t say too much about anything, but definitely Megan has grown up, that’s for sure.
Well that’s good to hear, and we’re glad you’re able to reprise this role seventeen years later. That’s amazing. You’ve done a number of series, especially you’re first known to the world as Sharee Gifford on Switched at Birth on Freeform for three seasons. And then you’ve done a number of series including Zoey 101, Everybody Hates Chris, Criminal Minds and Rosewood. I want to know when did you get the acting bug?
I’m going to be honest with you, once I booked Bad Boys II; I spoke to Will Smith and asked him of an acting coach to go to. Prior to booking Bad Boys, that was my first real acting audition.
Before that, I was dancing. I danced at half-time for the Knicks and their Liberty Basketball Team, so the performance bug was already brewing, but I didn’t know if I wanted to continue with that. I auditioned for a lot of Broadway, but at the time, I would get so close and never book it and sure enough, I end up having an audition for Bad Boys II. Fast forward to booking it. Onset, I asked Will Smith about an acting coach, because I take it very seriously. I believe it’s a craft, not just a job. So, as soon as I started taking classes and really honing in to exactly what this craft is about, I had way more respect for it and I definitely got the bug after that.
Well, I’m glad to hear it. Now, is there a role out there that you would love to play one day, now that you’ve been in the game almost twenty years now?
Yes, I’m definitely more of the stunt girl. I love fighting scenes. For Criminal Minds, I was kidnapped and dragged in the woods. Those types of characters are something I like, stepping out of my comfort zone. Even on Rosewood, I played an agent that was killed by her husband. He stabbed her and all types of stuff. So, the idea of putting myself in those situations is definitely pushing me. There’s a movie called Colombiana—
With Zoë Saldaña. And I always use her career as a goal, in a sense, because she really shows her range of characters, not just with her Guess Who? with Ashton Kutcher. She can go all the way to The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy. I love that range she has, so if I could say anyone or any role, it would be Colombiana.
That’s great, and considering that—you’re right, she did Guardians of the Galaxy and The Avengers. She’s in Avatar and she’s in Star Trek. She’s in probably the three biggest franchises in film’s history right now.
Right. If you want to go all the way back, she was in Britney Spears’ movie Crossroads. As long as you stay consistent and you know what you need to focus on, you’ll get there. So, seeing her open doors means I’m right behind her.
That is good advice, and a very good inspiration. I love the fact that you are very passionate about your family, especially your mother, who is a cancer survivor and read the news that she was treated for cancer, and you also lost a couple of aunts due to the disease. And my personal experience, I actually lost my mother to AIDS twenty-two years ago myself, and I wanted to know from you, how do you cope with losing two great members of your family?
Well first, I would like to say I’m sorry about your mother. I couldn’t even imagine being able to continue the day to day like that, so bravo to you for keeping your head high.
My main thing, for me is creating a tribe of people to surround myself with, because as much as I’m strong for myself, I have my days. We all have our days.
So, if there’s ways that we can have self-care—obviously like, working out, reading positive books, put some music on and dancing. But my main thing I focus on is creating a tribe of friends around me so that I am able to…when I’m visiting them, I’m feeling filled versus venting where I don’t feel there’s a lot of solutions, a lot of my friends help me in any way. That I need help; whether it be prayer, whether it be actual financial help or just speaking positive affirmation to my life and make sure I remind myself day in and day out that this is just part of my story. Everyone goes through things, but its how you get through it that defines you.
So for me, as much as I am upset and sad that my mother’s in the current state she’s in, it’s part of my story, so what can I do to push forward instead of drawing in this dilemma or this situation that I’m given? I literally was shooting Bad Boys, and as soon as I came home, I found out the information. So instead of being upset for long periods of time, I made sure I was working out, I made sure I was going to see friends, I made sure I was reading, praying because I know what’s coming forward in the future for me. So as long as I stay ready—regardless of the circumstances—I feel like the blessings will still come.
And I’m glad that you said that your mother is one of the strongest and inspirational women in your life, and you’re lucky to call her your mom just like I’m lucky to call Sharon my mother. What is one great memory that you have of your mother; whether it’s a memory you shared together or something you did together?
I’m definitely appreciative of the day to day. She was a cancer survivor for other cancers. She had thyroid cancer; she had uterine cancer, so now we’re battling stage IV pancreatic cancer. So I’m going to be honest with you, the day to day of just waking up and being with her, I’m very grateful for those days. On December 2nd, which is her birthday—
So to just be able to be with her, and we have a little puppy, a French bulldog that we’ve raised together since he was a baby. So it’s like having a little kid. So, seeing them at a dog park walking around is just a sign to just enjoy each and every moment. Those are the things that I cherish the most, because we can give things, but giving someone their time is more important. You can’t buy that.
Exactly, and what’s the French bulldog’s name? I have to know.
Oh, his name is Chancellor, my little boy. (laughs)
Definitely a little boy. (laughs)
It’s so funny. Every time I hear a dog or a baby, my voice changes. “Hello, little baby!” That’s my boy, I can’t deny it.
No, you do not want to deny that. I also read you are a foodie. You like to try new restaurants in every city, state or country you’re in. What has been the best food you have ever tried? Whether it’s local or in the world, what were the best foods you’ve tried?
Well, I’m going to say right now in this current state would be New Orleans. I never ate so much in my life, because I wanted to try everything and because everything was so flavorful, and you could just feel the hometown…I don’t know, just touch to it. I ate every single plate. It wasn’t just a little taste of something, like “ok then!” I tried something, the plate was gone. I tried something else, another plate was gone. I walk down the street. Beignet? Yep, give ’em to me. So, I would say New Orleans has it. Also, California, though. I’ve been trying to focus on the planet-based vegan life. But still, eat my burritos and grilled cheese sandwiches and things like that, but finding an alternative so that the waist can be as small as possible.
Of course, of course. I have never tried the food in New Orleans yet. I have to visit there. I’ve heard so many good things about the food there. I’m going to hit New Orleans as soon as I can next year.
You have to, that’s right! It’s just the south, period. It’s just a different touch, a different season that they use, and I’m OK with it.
And I love that you love comedy shows. So, who are some of your favorite comedians that you love to see?
Right now, I love Deon Cole. He’s a series regular on Black-ish. He has a standup on Netflix called Cole Hearted. There’s a comedienne named B. Simone. She’s like the female Jamie Foxx. Debbie Banks, a lot of up and coming comedians I’m paying attention to. Not only to support have them, but I loved their story. Very relatable, they talk about a lot things, on the come up and trying to make it in Hollywood, and they make it funny. I think people…like Kevin Hart always says, Laugh at my Pain. The things that are funny to us are things we’re all going through, so those very comedians are definitely on my radar right now and are definitely funny and I like to let people know whatever shows they have, especially if they’re out in L.A. I try to support.
I’ve met Kevin Hart a number of times, and Deon Cole is funny as hell. Especially since he was in Angie Tribeca, and as the third character, every time he comes on, I know he’s going to give us a great laugh and he always does that, so I’m glad you mentioned Deon Cole. And you also have your home remedies for health care. I’d like to know more about that.
Yes, so I used to have cystic acne on my face and I feel like a lot of women go through a lot of different hormonal situations. Instead of treating them by going to a dermatologist, a lot of women mask it with makeup and cover it up with all these different foundations and concealers. For me, I want to find the true beauty in myself and who I am and use makeup as an enhancement as versus something to cover, so I always encourage women to focus on their skin care. I am a firm believer of that regimen, that routine, day in and day out because you should feel comfortable in yourself. Even with hair, I would do extensions and weave and everything, which is not a problem. But again, it should enhance what you have versus covering up something.
So I made sure that I was getting treatments for my hair and getting trimmed and deep conditioned, using a routine, regimen that will make sure that each and every day, I’m adding more value to what I’m doing versus just throwing whatever on my skin because I’m just rushing. I have little YouTube videos and Instagram videos speaking of that, because I feel it’s important. I feel like women see what they see on Instagram, social media, whatever the case may be, on TV, but they don’t know what it really looks like. So if we can find our true beauty within ourselves, then everything else will follow.
Absolutely, and since you mentioned Instagram and YouTube, where can we find you? We’d like to know.
Excellent, that’s great. Like Mary McCloud Bethune. That’s easy to remember.
Exactly, yes! Yes, like Mary McCloud Bethune. Yep! That’s me! Say hello, shout me out, let me know that you heard me on here and I will definitely show love. I’m a true believer of the people who see my light early, I take the time out and make sure I say hello. When I’m out, someone is constantly coming up to me and saying “hello,” tell me about my character, being very surprised how grounded I am because I take my time with these people because hey, if it wasn’t for you, I wouldn’t be on TV. So, it’s all love over here.
One last thing— For the person who’s listening and they would like to get some advice from you on becoming either a dancer or transition into acting like you did, what’s the one piece of advice would you give them?
Take classes. Perfect your craft. There are so many people—it’s different because of social media. You can do this as a business and do your thing, but nothing trumps that than talent. I feel that talent and be completely ready and grounded and solid in exactly who you are just sets you aside from anyone else. Yes, in case someone might be working right now, but that longevity only comes from hard work and persistence and perfecting your craft. Perfecting your craft is my motto at all times, because you want to be ready for everything.
There’s this show called—it has Cardi B and Chance the Rapper and T.I. I can’t think of the name of it, but nonetheless, they put these rappers in all these different scenarios, whether it be battle rapping, writing music, music videos. So you need to be confident in all these different areas. And for me, in acting, if I have to do a scene where I have to improv or a scene where I have to create this backstory for this character that comes with practice. That comes with being in classes, because if you go for an audition and yeah, you prepared for X Y and Z and they say, “Cool! Let’s do this other thing,” and you start slipping up because that’s not something that you know of, then that sets you apart from someone else who is prepared.
So, take classes, go to some workshops, go in front of some of these casting directors, and also create your own content. Social media is your resume, so I put up self-taped auditions that I’ve done; I’ve put up short films that I’ve done with friends, with students, a student film. Just showcase yourself in the best way you can so that no one can tell you who you are.
See Bianca in Bad Boys for Life, coming to theatres next Friday January 17th from Columbia Pictures