Good & plenty: young starlets are infamous for hookup high jinks, temper tantrums and lapses from sobriety. Meagan Good, true to her name, does none of the above. She is, however, having a scream onscreen. With two hot horror flicks in the can, the actress and producer bleeds, leads and proves she's way more than just sweet slasher fodder.
From the perch of a penthouse loft overlooking downtown Los Angeles, 27-year-old actress Meagan Good candidly reflects on her evolution from child actress to teen idol and now to scream queen. The talented, stunningly beautiful California native has, in her considerable career, amassed a broad resume of television and movie credits, so there's much to consider. TV appearances have included The Steve Harvey show and House, and her film roles have been similarly diverse. Biker Boyz, D.E.B.S., You Got Served, Roll Bounce, Waist Deep, Stomp the Yard and The Love Guru are but a few.
The "scream queen" title is new. It stems from Good's parts in two marquee horror films: Saw V (scheduled for a highly anticipated October 24 release) and The Unborn (due out next year), which is directed by David S. Goyer, who penned the Blade franchise and co-wrote the story of The Dark Knight.
In Saw V, Good plays a character named Luba, but she's mum about any plot details. The script is shrouded in secrecy, and the filmmakers shot several endings. As in the previous four films, the vicious serial killer Jigsaw tests his victims' wills to live through a series of complex and gruesome death traps. Good endured torturous contraptions take after take. Some setups were so dangerous that paramedics were standing by on the set, but Good was up for the challenge. "Meagan brought a combination of talent, dedication and personality to the character," recalls the film's director, David Haeld. "No matter how uncomfortable the scene, Meagan was always ready to go for another take."
By definition, a scream queen is a nubile, attractive actress who gains commercial notoriety by appearing in a horror film as a damsel in distress. Although such roles are considered lowbrow, Good is in fine company as she joins the ranks of Jamie Lee Curtis, Sissy Spacek and Sarah Michelle Gellar. "I love horror movies," Good declares. "The Halloween movies inspired me to be an actress. I wanted to be the girl being chased and running from something horrible."
This sentiment may be unexpected from a young African-American actress, but Meagan is anything but predictable. "I want to play roles that people wouldn't expect to see me in," she says. "At the end of the day, I'm no sex kitten. Sometimes I'm downright corny."
Good refuses to conform to stereotypes, but in Hollywood, escaping the role of Token Black Girl can be tricky. Few great lead roles are written for women. Fewer still are written for women of color. Good has an additional factor to face when selecting her parts. She, like most actresses, is drawn to dark, complicated characters that garner critical acclaim, but as a Christian, maintaining a balance between commitment to work and commitment to faith can be difficult. "I refuse to portray any role that disrespects God or myself," Good affirms. "As an actress and a Christian, there are certain things I won't [do]."
Such as gratuitous nudity. The young actress's smoldering sex appeal is apparent, but when it comes to baring it all, she's adamant about maintaining boundaries, even when she encounters what she refers to as "The Set Up." "[It's when] the role is yours and you're ready to sign the contract, and at the last minute," Good pauses for emphasis, "they spring on the nudity. It's heartbreaking."
From a young age, Meagan Good has learned to overcome obstacles. During the '80s, hers was one of the few black families in Valencia, California. And in the homogeny of the suburbs, she confronted racism from an unlikely source: an elementary school teacher. "One teacher that I had a lot of difficulty with pulled my work permit [issued by the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, allowing a minor to work in the entertainment industry], so I was out of acting for about six months," says Good. The incident, however difficult, made her realize that acting was more than a hobby. After her work permit was reinstated, she booked a bit part in the 1995 comedy Friday. Two years later she landed her breakthrough role as Cisely in the critically acclaimed 1997 drama Eve's Bayou. She was 16.
Despite the cautionary tales that accompany many young actors, Good has transitioned into a movie star without such foibles. "I never felt the urge to rebel," Good recalls. "I made plenty of mistakes along the way, but I tried not to repeat them."
She attributes her success to strong family ties and the guidance of her mother/personal manager, Tyra Wardlow-Doyle. "My morn was there every step of the way," Good recalls, "but she didn't come to sets with me consistently until I was twenty-two."
Says Wardlow-Doyle, "Meagan always knew how to listen and apply what she learned. As a manager, my job is to make sure she's prepared, but as a mother, it was my job to make sure she felt protected and heard."
In 2006 the actress put her experiences to good use. With actor Ty Hodges, Good's longtime friend, she founded the production company Freedom Bridge Entertainment to produce and star in Miles From Home. Hodges was a first-time writer and director, but the film's resonance was unmistakable. After crashing Sundance with an unaffiliated screening, the movie earned several awards on the indie-film-festival circuit--including Best Director at the 2006 International Black Film Festival--before its international premiere at Cannes this year. From its success, Good and Hodges secured financing to produce their second effort, Sundays in Fort Greene. Freedom Bridge was created to fill what Good saw as a gaping hole in the industry. "It's a bridge to freedom, to create opportunities for young minority actors and filmmakers," Good says. "We wanted to develop projects that are more than 'chicken and grits.'"
A mixture of fame and ambition can be intoxicating to a woman of any age, but even atop dizzying heights Good remains grounded. She is grateful, realistic and ready for battle. "I fight every day to get a good role, but I'm appreciative that I have the struggle and the journey," she says. "I realize the only thing harder than getting there is staying there."
For more: giantmag.com/meagan-good
photography mark squires
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|Date:||Oct 1, 2008|
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