When no one was looking, she turned the big 6-0.
Angela Bassett insisted “No party!”
She didn’t get her wish. “My friends and husband were like, ‘No, you’re not having a quiet night at home. We’re going to do this B-I-G,’ ” she said. “Slowly, I got on the birthday train. Then I thought this birthday was a good metaphor for life: Don’t hide out. Do it all the way!”
Bassett goes full throttle on her hit Fox series “9-1-1,” a show about first responders, which returns Monday. She plays don’t-mess-with-her police officer Athena Grant, who keeps the streets of L.A. safe. Her TV husband just came out of the closet, a hot fireman (Peter Krause) is in love with her, and she’s raising two kids. “Just do it all the way,” Bassett repeats.
Review-Journal: What is a great Sunday with your husband, actor Courtney Vance, and 13-year-old twins?
Angela Bassett: It starts with church in the morning. Then I come home and make breakfast for everyone. Waffles, pancakes, the whole thing. Breakfast is just love. Food is love. Afterward, the kids are usually off to a lacrosse game. I may chill and pop in a movie or I’ll read a script. I might even catch brunch with girlfriends. Then it’s all about getting ready for Monday.
What is the best part of playing Athena on “9-1-1”?
She’s so relatable, so fierce and so vulnerable at the same time. Frankly, what I love about these “9-1-1” characters is despite whatever is going on in their lives, they shoot their shots and do their best to save lives. They’re funny. They’re strong. They’re a little quirky. They’re human.
You said yes to this series before you even read a script.
There was no script initially when I said yes. I was going on faith and my history of working with Ryan Murphy on “American Horror Story.” The things we had done in the past were amazing, and I love the way that he crafts female roles. The women on his shows are fierce and fabulous. But they’re also emotional and vulnerable at the same time.
The part of the show people adore are the emergencies. Any favorites?
My favorite was the Valentine’s Day episode. It was pretty crazy. Basically, a woman took me hostage inside her house and tied me to a chair. In another room, she had killed her boyfriend because he wasn’t kind. He had a bad heart. Her mission was to carve my good heart out and plant it in her now-dead boyfriend.
Your character is having a hot little romance with fire captain Bobby Nash (Peter Krause). Any teasers for the second part of the season?
We started out quickly, then we slowed down a little bit, which I appreciate. The writers threw some obstacles at them as a couple. He wanted more. She didn’t want to go public. Audiences are really reacting well to it and enjoying them. They want this couple to stay together.
Plus, it’s refreshing to see love at a certain age on TV.
I think it’s lovely to see a mature love story on TV. Both have been through quite a lot. They’re finding hope in each other’s arms.
You’re also starring in a film coming out in May called “Otherhood,” about three suburban moms who travel to New York City to visit their grown sons on Mother’s Day.
It’s about coping with the empty nest. It’s that next stage of motherhood when the kids have their own lives.
You played Black Panther’s mother. What did it mean to have the movie nominated for a best picture Oscar?
It meant so much. I started looking at the fan sites on YouTube when the trailer first came out and I could feel the excitement. People were actually losing their minds! And I mean, people of all ages. I have never experienced anything like this in my entire career. People left the theaters crying because it meant so much to them. The best picture nomination was nothing short of a brilliant turn of events. That film had such power. Its excellence could not be denied.
“Black Panther 2”?
(Laughing) I know nothing.
What is the secret to a long, happy marriage?
We get time to do me. Women can be the ones who make sure that everyone else is OK, but they forget about “me.” Same for men in many relationships. I think to be a strong couple, you also have to bring the focus back to you from time to time to be a strong partner. I also think it’s important to say “I love you” or “I miss you.” And you need to keep learning something new about your partner.
You and Courtney are parents of twins, Bronwyn and Slater, who are 13. Any parenting advice?
They’re full-on teenagers now. I glanced at them in the rear-view mirror when I took them to school this morning and thought, “Let me hold myself together.” I could just weep from love and remembrance of them being little bitties. In my mind, I can still see them as little 4- and 5-year-olds. Now, you see these long legs and sour attitudes. My son woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning. But I don’t care. They’re still beautiful.
Did you get some cool Mom points for being in “Black Panther”?
I did, and you need all the points you can get. It was a good year. “Black Panther” was hot in the streets for a solid 12 months. It feels like I got to pull another rabbit out of my hat.
Sum up 60 in Angela Bassett years.
Contentment. That’s my motto: Be content in all things. It’s about attitude at this age — and any age. Embrace that you know more now than yesterday. Keep learning. Life is about keeping the wonder.