La La Anthony is back on the big screen this week as she stars in comedy Baggage Claim.
Baggage Claim is directed by David E. Talbert and sees La La Anthony team up with Paula Patton, Taye Diggs and Jill Scott.
- What was the appeal of the film?
My dad is a flight attendant, so it was great for me to get this part. He thinks it’s so great that I play Tanya in ticketing. My dad has been a flight attendant my whole life and when my dad saw me with a flight attendant outfit on, he just laughed.
I had a good time; it’s such an honour to work with such an amazing cast. The story was actually just such a fun take of some of the unbelievable stories my dad has told me through the years about the crazy things that happen at the airport and on planes.
My dad has fallen in and out of love many times with people he met at the airport or on a plane, so I brought some of that into my character.
- What does this film say about relationships?
Sometimes the best things are in front of you. Women don’t have to put themselves on a timeline. So many times we think we need to be married with three kids by 30, or we think we have failed.
Nowadays, life is different; it’s about enjoying life, enjoying who you are, travelling and doing different things. Don’t put yourself on this timeline that makes you feel as if you’ve failed as a woman, if you’re not married.
We see that in the movie with Montana (Paula Patton). She felt that since her sister was younger than her and was getting engaged, she was lagging far behind and needed to catch up. What women end up doing is settling for something, because they just want to fulfil this timeline that they’ve created in their head. I’m just saying NO to timelines; live life, and let things happen.
- Where did you get your name? It’s unusual and fun.
My real name is Alani and for years, friends and family called me La La. It just stuck; it’s still here, and it’s not going anywhere. I’m so used to La La now, and I don’t even hear my real name very often.
- You are a successful actress, writer and DJ. Were you outgoing as a little girl?
I was very outgoing, very talkative, and very much the life of the party. My mum likes to remind me that I was rambunctious growing up. I’m glad I was able to channel that attitude and put it to good use.
I started in radio, as a teenager. From there, I became an MTV host and then transitioned into film, television, and reality TV. I was able to carve out a good career for myself.
- What was it like growing up?
I didn’t grow up with a lot, but I always dreamed of bigger things and bigger places. Being born in Brooklyn, New York, kept me humble, but gave me the drive to always want more, to want to see more, and want to experience more.
I didn’t want to be like some of my family members, who never went to college, never left Brooklyn, or even went to Manhattan. They just stayed in Brooklyn, and that was their lives. I always wondered what the rest of the world was like, and I was so blessed to have a mum that allowed me to live those dreams.
- Is your mum your inspiration?
My mum was my role model. She was a single mother looking after my brother and I; she held it all together and still allowed us the opportunity to live our lives. My mum definitely felt like you live by experiencing things.
College was great; I’m definitely happy I had an education, and that is very important. But travelling, getting out in the world, and experiencing different things is just as important. My mum didn’t have a lot of money; she worked in hospital, in admissions, while my dad was flying all over the world.
But she was able to give me that confidence to go out there and not be afraid. I don’t know many mums who would let their kids at 17 or 18 go off to LA and try to figure it out. I love that she allowed me to do that, because that’s how I started my career.
- How rewarding is motherhood for you?
It’s hard, which is why I decided to have only one child. My son travels with me. I could have more, but for now, one is good because I’m able to balance my career and take care of him.
I like to make my son be a part of what I’m doing. So when I’m at work, we’re lucky enough that he can hang out for a few hours. He’s a part of what I’m doing, (in the show) so it’s not like I’m just away from him all day, everyday. If I have a long day on set, he’ll come on set for a few hours with me. As a mum, you just figure out ways to make it work.
- I know you are great friends with Kim Kardashian. Do you give her good advice on motherhood?
Well now, with Kim being a mom, we share that in common, and it’s great. She asks ask me questions about when my son [Kiyan Carmelo Anthony] was young.
We just give each other advice like friends do. My advice to her when she was pregnant was to get all the sleep that she could, because when North came, [her baby with Kanye West] she was not going to sleep. But she’s doing so great and adapting to motherhood so wonderfully.
Kim and her baby are doing amazing. I’m one of her closest friends and plan on spending time with her this week and hanging out with her and the baby.
- Is it challenging being friends with her, because of her fame?
It comes with the territory. When you go outside, you know what’s going to happen. There are going to be pictures; there’s going to be a lot of commotion.
If you don’t want to be bothered, and you just want some girl time where you don’t have to comb your hair or put make up on, then you stay in the house. My mum always says ‘start worrying, when no one wants to take your picture (laughs).’
- How important is the friendship?
It’s important. There’s such a great dynamic about camaraderie with your girls. The things that you talk about are not things you can talk to your husband or the guy you’re dating about. You want to talk to your girlfriend about stupid things like hair and style. It’s great to have that.
- What has marriage been like for you?
I’ve been with my husband [basketball player Carmelo Anthony] for ten years. Similar to one of the themes in the movie, we started out as friends.
It’s great when a relationship starts with friendship as the basis, because through the tough times, you’re still with your friend. Love is a tricky thing, and those days where love can be difficult, at least you have the friendship to rely on. Sometimes you can look at the person that you love, and you might not feel like you love them, because they’re annoying you or getting on your nerves.
But when it’s your friend, you like the person, so you’re able to get through the bumps that happen throughout any relationship, quickly and easily. Friendship is the foundation for any great relationship.
- Have you come to any awareness about strong relationships?
I’ve just come to the realization that you have to put work into them.In this world, we’re so focused on careers and a million other things that marriage and relationships fall by the wayside. We get this idea that the person is always going to be there, and you don’t have to put the work in.
But you have to make it a priority. My husband and I have ‘date night’, and with our careers pulling us in different directions, we make sure we never go two weeks without seeing each other. You have to put that work in the same way we put that work into our careers. I’ve definitely learned that more and more over the years.
- Do you spend a lot of time on looks and fashion?
(Laughs) Not a lot of time because underneath it all, I’m a tomboy. I can’t do this stuff on my own. I have great make-up people and great hair people. If it were up to me, my hair would be in a messy bun; I’d wear sunglasses with sweatpants and sneakers.
But when I have to get dressed up and pull it together, I’d like to say I do a good job. I’m all about versatility. I love pairing things together and mixing stuff. I’ve been on the forefront of nail art; it’s a really big thing, now. These are my real nails, [she has beautifully decorated long nails] and I’m always Instagraming pictures of them and trying new things with them.
- Who is your role model?
Oprah seems to be everyone’s role model, and she’s definitely mine. She also started in radio, and went on to television, producing, and acting. She’s in the wonderful new movie, The Butler. I think it’s great to show people you can do more than one thing, and I think the days of just putting people in a box is changing.
There was a time when if you were on the radio, that’s what you did; if you were on TV, that’s what you did; if you were an actor, that’s what you did.
Now, you’re seeing people do so many different things across the board, and that makes it great for me; I can come from radio and still have people accept that I also do television and movies.
- What are your upcoming plans for your career?
I wrote a book called ‘The Love Playbook [Rules for Love, Sex, and Happiness]’, which comes out in January. It’s about relationships and advice, because I’ve always been that friend that everyone comes to for advice. I always say it’s easier to give advice than to take it (laughs).
I’m always dishing out the best advice, but I don’t always take my own advice. I also have some more films coming out this year. I have a movie called 1982 premiering at the Toronto Film Festival. Then, there’s a sequel to this huge movie I did called, Think Like A Man Too, coming out in June.
I’m trying to tackle more film and television roles and really make a career for myself in acting. I want to do roles that are deeper than what people would expect from me... as the usual best friend, girlfriend, or girl next door.
I want to show people my versatility, and what I can actually do. Everyone needs that one, unexpected role. That is what I am looking for I’ve kind of done everything else, so this is the next right step.
- Back to the film - what is Baggage Claim all about, in essence?
It’s a film about love. It’s a film about friendship. It’s a film about women. It’s not about colour. You can insert any colour, and it’s the same story. You can insert any culture, and it’s a similar story. It’s for everyone.
It’s not just for an African American audience, and no matter your colour, you’re going to enjoy it. You’re going to laugh and feel good. Don’t let that be the reason not to experience it and not to have fun in the movie theatre.
Baggage Claim will open in the UK and Ireland on 11 October 2013, distributed by Fox Searchlight.