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Pam Grier, Still Kicking Butt

Legendary blaxploitation actress tackles life's challenges.

Q: You achieved sex symbol status during the '70s. Do men still chase after you?

A: I'm not ready to date right now because of a relationship that ended horribly after eight years. But yes, men of various ages are still attracted to me. Forty-five-year-old men and some as young as 35 are great to be with and date and see movies and discuss politics. I think my interests are varied, so that will always give me a great selection, if you will. I like going to museums, concerts, opera, rock-climbing, riding horses into the hills, going to the classic car shows, or just digging someone out of a ditch with my John Deere tractor.

One of my favorite shows is TLC's Say Yes to the Dress. I love watching these women buy beautiful dresses for their weddings. That's something I always wanted to have. I believe in the ceremony to celebrate the mindset of marriage. As a little girl, you dream of the wedding dress and veil, and you picture all your friends and family there. I hope I'm not 80 [laughs] when it happens, but who knows what I'll be like then.

Q: In your 20s you came close to exchanging vows with NBA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. One of the reasons it didn't happen is because Kareem converted to Islam. At the time, you thought the religion was "oppressive to women."

A: Islam is a monolithic community; there are fundamentalists, conservatives, liberals, and at the time Kareem couldn't give me an idea of where we'd be as a couple. I'm a child of the women's movement. I know I need an education. I know I might need a job, if something happens to him. I would be giving up a lot.… I was hoping he could give me more information, which he could not. And I asked for more time, which he didn't give me. I said give me more time and, possibly, we would've been married.

Q: You also dated comedians like Richard Pryor and Freddie Prinze. In your book you talk about your desire to do comedy. Can we expect to see you in one anytime soon?

A: I hope so. I've written a television comedy series that we'd like to get on the air. It's a modern-day All in the Family, with an interracial cast. It's about two half-sisters — one black, one white — who move back home to live with their mother in these harsh economic times. I was hoping to get Cybill Shepherd to play my sister, and I want Cloris Leachman to play the mom. She's a child of the '70s, a frolicking Gloria Steinem-type character. Fast-forward to today and her two grown daughters have come home to roost. We've got the whole dynamic of family, race and politics to deal with.

Q: Sounds like something our readers might like to see.

A: [Laughs]. Absolutely. I have a dream that I can bring some funny that I learned from Freddie and Richard, and all my mentors. I'm still kicking. I'm still dreaming. I'm still writing. And if I can turn all of my tears and sorrow and loneliness into laughter to share with others, I'm for it. I'm there.

 

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