On the Rise With Carlease Burke

 
 

She's also done the Dinah, hosting pool parties for Andrea Meyerson (Laughing Matters) among other events the last five years, but this year she went as a civilian. "Andrea didn't do her party this year, so I just went down to play; I wanted to go down and blow off some steam," she said.

"I was hanging out in this million-dollar home all weekend, not working, just hanging out. We just had so much fun. Lots of women were there, coming and going all weekend, but I was the only black person there for awhile. My friend Judy Carter asked me how it feels when I'm the only one, and most of the time I don't notice it, because … there's a reason I'm there, some bond or connection. It's not in the forefront of my mind at any time. I never feel uncomfortable unless something happens to make me feel uncomfortable. I have a lot of different friends of different races and sexualities. I focus on what we have in common."

She's not sure why there aren't more out lesbians of color in the entertainment industry.

"I think about this all the time," she said. "I don't know who they all are myself. I've heard rumors and speculation. I just don't know why they don't come out. I think it's that they're worried that it'll have some adverse affect on their careers."

In terms of her own acting career, Burke would love to work with Steven Spielberg again, and is interested in working with William H. Macy, Christopher Guest and Morgan Freeman, as well as Queen Latifah. "She represents big women, and she's multi-talented," Burke remarked.

Burke has also has some discussions with Ilene Chaiken about working on The L Word. "I had a fun opportunity recently, because I did a reading of The Vagina Monologues with four members of The L Word cast, and I got to sign with Jennifer Beals," she said. "Jennifer told me about teaching her daughter sign language."

Burke, who includes sign language as one of her skills on her resume, is glad for opportunities to use it. "My ex-partner's parents were deaf, so I was part of the deaf community then, and I had met Marlee [Matlin] during that time."

Burke has worked with deaf performers before and was the voice for Michelle Banks' solo show, Reflections of a Deaf Black Woman. "I love sign language and don't want to lose it," she said.

With her career keeping her busy right now, Burke is happy to be single at the moment. "I'm kind of dating," she said. "I've made some bad choices in the past — who hasn't — but I'm looking forward to making better choices and maybe being in a relationship again. But I'm not looking for it, and it's not something that has to happen. But I'm keeping my eyes open and am taking applications!"

Who would she like to date? "I like strong, independent women," she said, "women who know who they are and are not easily intimidated. I'm the kind of woman who needs a lot of freedom and a lot of space, so I'd like someone like me, who's strong and independent, but that we know how to give to each other and knows your partner is with you, even when we're not physically together."

In the meantime, she's pursuing her dream role — "the film role that gets me nominated and wins me an Academy Award!" — going to auditions, working in theater and, as always, making women laugh.

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