Windy City Media Group Frontpage News


home search facebook twitter join
Gay News Sponsor Windy City Times 2023-02-22



FILM/TV Janora McDuffie: Black queer actress set to make Oscars history as announcer
by Andrew Davis

This article shared 2868 times since Thu Mar 24, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email

Janora McDuffie has accomplished many things during her career, including being on many TV series, including Grey's Anatomy, Criminal Minds, Veronica Mars, Firefly and New Girl.

However, on Sunday, March 27, the queer actress will be doing something much different. She will be heard by approximately 1 billion people when she will be the official announcer a the 94th Annual Academy Awards.

McDuffie talked with Windy City Times about what being an announcer involves, her thoughts about Hollywood, something she realized about herself—and her holiday tree.

Windy City Times: We're on a Zoom call, and I'm noticing your background. Is that a Christmas tree I see?

Janora McDuffie: Yes, it is! I put one up during Christmas of the pandemic because we [McDuffie and her wife] couldn't go back to my hometown in North Carolina. It's the first time we put up a tree, and I love it; I didn't want to take it down. So the Christmas tree could be a Valentine's Day tree, St. Patrick's Day tree. I finally went home and, after I got back, I STILL didn't want to take it down.

The thing is, though, that to continue to keep it up, I cannot repeat a theme. For example, in February, I couldn't do Valentine's Day so I made it early Mardi Gras. And I couldn't do St. Patrick's Day—so I've made it the Oscars tree! There are little Oscar statues and these little cutouts; and, at the top, there's a microphone!

So in order to keep the tree up, I'm going to have to be creative with the themes. Last June, I had a Pride tree, complete with the Progressive Pride flag at the top.

WCT: Congrats on being designated as the Oscars announcer. So I assume you auditioned?

JM: Yes, I auditioned. I'm just thankful that someone recognized that I'm a sister who's been in this voiceover game for a minute. Someone asked me to put down some tracks that sound like they could be said at the Oscars. I made up some things, put my best foot forward—and it worked!

WCT: And what will you be doing, exactly? I'm going to be listening for your voice.

JM: Well, you ain't gonna have to listen hard, Andrew, because I'm going to be there from the beginning to the end. I'm going to be the one who welcomes you to the 94th Academy Awards at the beginning of the program. I'm the one who talks about the stars and I will be welcoming the hosts: Regina Hall, Amy Schumer and Wanda Sykes. And when we go to commercial break, I'll tell you to stay tuned. Also, when the awards are announced, I'll be the one saying, "Andrew Davis—this is his first win and fifth nomination for being the journalist extraordinaire."

WCT: Your family must be over the moon.

JM: Oh, man—yes! [Interviewer laughs.] They're so excited. It was just hometown love. It was, like, "Janora, we see you and we love you! You are shining for us."

WCT: Are you nervous at all?

JM: Yes, because it's live. If there's anything that's not in the script or if I say an extra syllable… I definitely have to be on my game.

WCT: And some of the names can be tricky.

JM: They're very tricky. At my first rehearsal, they had this linguist come in who knows 50 different languages and breaks down the more complicated names—and she sounds just like she's from those countries.

I record my own voice saying those names, based on her coaching. That's the packet that I'm able to study. They attempted to write out the phonetic spelling—but, when you're dealing with a different language, our American tongues are accustomed to saying things a certain way.

WCT: I know you like all the categories, but which ones particularly intrigue you?

JM: You took my answer because I even like the artistic/technical categories. I will forever be grateful when the Oscars—I forget which year—did an excellent job describing what each category meant. Saying "production design" doesn't necessarily compute, but this particular program broke down things and gave digital examples. It truly takes a team to have the most beautiful movie. Who lit that actor? Who made that background look so incredible?

WCT: What are three or four of your favorite movies?

JM: Well, I can refer to my tree because I have a couple there.

One thing that's very important is to see yourself; that takes you to a whole other level of connection. You know it's a hit if you're able to transcend and tell a good story that takes you on a ride—and I was on a ride from beginning to end with Forrest Gump. I do like the historical fiction genre and I was just so moved.

It could be the nostalgia because that movie came out at a certain time—but I also like Titanic, which also came out around then. I could watch that one a million times over.

Now, I also have Rocky and The Godfather on my tree. Those are my wife's picks. She can have some say about what goes on the tree. [Interviewer laughs.]

WCT: Switching gears, I think some people still feel Hollywood is this cradle of diversity and liberalism. What are your thoughts?

JM: I do feel that Hollywood talks that talk, but it can definitely do better walking that walk. And with as many woke folk we have out here, we need more than tweets for change to happen. It's about using WHEREVER you are in this matrix of Hollywood. Let's greenlight some projects that tell OUR story. More action is needed, especially from those in positions of power.

There's a story I want to tell you, and it was something Martin Luther King Jr.'s daughter shared. This little boy was in a boat while fishing with his grandpa. The boy started laughing a lot and the grandpa asked, "Okay, grandson—what are you laughing at?" The little boy pointed to the grandfather and said, "I'm laughing because you have a hole in your side of the boat." What the little boy didn't realize was that they were both in the same boat.

So I use that analogy to call all of us to action because we're all in the same boat. We need to realize our connectedness that we're all in the same boat.

WCT: The debate seems to be increasing about straight actors portraying LGBTQ+ characters. Where do you stand regarding that?

JM: So, I'm all about authenticity; if there's someone who fits that role and who can portray it well, that person should get the opportunity. In addition to that, I do ask that, as a gay person, I won't be considered for a straight role? I feel like many gay people can play straight roles, so I don't want to go so hard to the paint with that conversation that I exclude our ability to play so many roles.

Maybe it should be that there are 50 gay people [audition] for a gay role, and may the best man or woman win. Now I recognize I said "man" and "woman," not recognizing the non-binary actors out there. I especially [advocate] hard regarding transgender and non-binary/genderfluid actors playing those roles because I think that's a specific community. Representation matters—and it doesn't matter if the non-binary or transgender person is in Mississippi or if the role speaks to that mother down the street who thinks her child is "strange" and doesn't realize the child is normal and human.

There's a difference between sexual orientation and gender identity. People need to be educated so they know the difference.

WCT: It seems that if someone doesn't see himself/herself/themself reflected—whether it's in a magazine, television show or film—that person might think, "Maybe I'm not supposed to be included."

JM: Right. Yes! And we all belong in this world.

WCT: My last question is something I've asked a wide variety of people, and I've gotten a wide variety of answers. These past two years—with the pandemic and the racial awakening some people have had—we've all had time to self-reflect. What have you learned about yourself?

JM: Oh—that's a really great question!

I recognize that I get sad—more than I'd like to admit—and that it's okay to talk about it. It's also important to find things that don't make you sad.

We're too busy moving and don't take time to understand how and why we feel. You're stuck with yourself at home, for days! [Laughs] I've discovered that it's okay to feel that—but also that a sister needs to get outside. For days and weeks, I would not go outside; I now recognize what going outside does for my soul. I've put a time limit on how many days I can stay inside—and it cannot be more than one. [Laughs]

Also, community can help you get out of your rut. I got a Peloton [bike] over the pandemic, but it wasn't about the exercise; it was about the community. That really helped a lot.

The last thing I would say is that I consider myself extremely blessed and a hard worker. I work hard and I come from a genuine place. I feel that I've planted some beautiful and fertile Hollywood seeds since I've come into the scene.

Being high-strung is part of my madness, and I felt like when I wasn't doing it [during the pandemic], I was bringing my sadness. But what I ultimately learned was to trust my own journey.

This article shared 2868 times since Thu Mar 24, 2022
facebook twitter pin it google +1 reddit email


Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Black Adam,' Cyndi Lauper, Sondheim, Oscars, OutFest
Cultured Magazine recently profiled Quintessa Swindell—who became the first out, non-binary actor to play a lead superhero in the DC universe when they portrayed Cyclone in the 2022 movie Black Adam. Swindell grew up in Virginia ...

Gay News

Elijah McKinnon: A Chicago creative talks about Open Television and intersectionality
Elijah McKinnon (they/them/their) is definitely marching to the beat of their own drummer—and many people are benefiting from their vision. McKinnon—who describes themself as a BlaQ, non-binary #queerdragon—is an artivist ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Little Richard, Indigo Girls, Rodriguez's honor, dance film, Pedro Pascal
Video below - Produced by Bungalow Media + Entertainment for CNN Films and HBO Max, in association with Rolling Stone Films, director Lisa Cortes' Sundance opening-night documentary Little Richard: I Am Everything will debut in theaters and on VOD ...

Gay News

Billy Masters: Raunchier Uncoupled on the rebound with Showtime
"I never liked when she did this in concerts either. I don't like when females are overly sexualized in art. It degrades and objectivy's [sic] women in a way that's not healthy." —TJ Jackson on reports ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Wanda Sykes, Jonas Brothers, 'Queen of Versailles,' 'Bloodshed'
Adam Lambert video below - Award-winning comedian Wanda Sykes' new comedy special, I'm An Entertainer, will premiere globally on Netflix on May 23, a press release announced. The special, directed by Linda Mendoza, was filmed in early February 2023 at Philadelphia's ...

Gay News

Queerties honor LGBTQ+ creatives at Feb. 28 event
The 11th Annual Queerties Awards—which recognizes LGBTQ+ creators, tastemakers, storytellers and newsmakers—took place Feb. 28 at Eden Sunset in Los Angeles. Hosted by drag comedian Bianca Del Rio, the ceremony ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ 'Bob's Burgers,' P!nk, sports items, Billy Porter, Ben Platt
Animated sitcom Bob's Burgers marked another major milestone with its 250th episode. Gay actor/comedian/musician John Roberts (who voices Linda Belcher) talked with Queerty and said that one of the most important lessons he's learned from ...

Gay News

'Everything' sweeps The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics 14th Dorian Film Awards
--From a press release - GALECA,The Society of LGBTQ Entertainment Critics, has named A24's fantastical and affecting family relationship drama Everything Everywhere All at Once 2022's Film of the Year—and then some—in its 14th Dorian ...

Gay News

At 'FIRST(ISH)' Sight: Producer Ashley Flowers speaks on 'honest' representation
Ashley Flowers—a producer, co-creator and actor in the short film First(ish) Date, now in pre-production—wears many creative hats. She also has an extensive resume working with stage and film props as well; Flowers has been working ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Black queer films, Janet Jackson, Paramore, WNBA, GALECA contest
Queerty ran a piece on 10 films that celebrate Black queer love. Some of them include The Skinny (with Jussie Smollett), Dee Rees' movie Pariah, the Oscar-winning Moonlight, the Marlon Riggs classic Tongues Untied, Brother to ...

Gay News

Goran Stolevski grows up fast with Of an Age
Openly gay filmmaker Goran Stolevski is a triple threat: He handled directing, writing and editing chores for his new project, Of an Age, which Focus Features is now distributing. The film is already taking home trophies ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Isaac Mizrahi, Viola Davis, Laura Jane Grace, Elton John, GLAAD
On Sherri Shepherd's talk show, entertainer/fashion designer Isaac Mizrahi said he'd love for out actor Dan Levy to portray him in a potential biopic based on Mizrahi's memoir, I.M., The Wrap noted. "Dan Levy, OK," Mizrahi ...

Gay News

CGMC to re-create music videos in drag with 'Lipstick & Lyrics: On MTV'
--From a press release - CHICAGO—Chicago Gay Men's Chorus presents their annual live-singing drag show, Lipstick & Lyrics. This year's theme: On MTV. Come enjoy CGMC's drag performers as they recreate epic music videos. With dancers, costumes and sass, these live ...

Gay News

SHOWBIZ Jerrod Carmichael, Alan Cumming, Andre Leon Talley, AIDS drama
Openly gay stand-up comic and recent Golden Globes host Jerrod Carmichael is set to star in a comedy documentary series for HBO, according to Entertainment Weekly. The yet-untitled series will center on Carmichael's personal life, following ...

Gay News

Billy Porter discusses his fashion choices, personal ambitions
Billy Porter—the Tony, Emmy and Grammy winner—needs no introduction—especially to the many fans of his character Pray Tell on Ryan Murphy's hit TV series Pose. Coming up exclusively in theaters Feb. 3, Porter will star as ...


Copyright © 2023 Windy City Media Group. All rights reserved.
Reprint by permission only. PDFs for back issues are downloadable from
our online archives. Single copies of back issues in print form are
available for $4 per issue, older than one month for $6 if available,
by check to the mailing address listed below.

Return postage must accompany all manuscripts, drawings, and
photographs submitted if they are to be returned, and no
responsibility may be assumed for unsolicited materials.
All rights to letters, art and photos sent to Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago
Gay and Lesbian News and Feature Publication) will be treated
as unconditionally assigned for publication purposes and as such,
subject to editing and comment. The opinions expressed by the
columnists, cartoonists, letter writers, and commentators are
their own and do not necessarily reflect the position of Nightspots
(Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay,
Lesbian, Bisexual and Transegender News and Feature Publication).

The appearance of a name, image or photo of a person or group in
Nightspots (Chicago GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times
(a Chicago Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender News and Feature
Publication) does not indicate the sexual orientation of such
individuals or groups. While we encourage readers to support the
advertisers who make this newspaper possible, Nightspots (Chicago
GLBT Nightlife News) and Windy City Times (a Chicago Gay, Lesbian
News and Feature Publication) cannot accept responsibility for
any advertising claims or promotions.






About WCMG      Contact Us      Online Front  Page      Windy City  Times      Nightspots
Identity      BLACKlines      En La Vida      Archives      Advanced Search     
Windy City Queercast      Queercast Archives     
Press  Releases      Join WCMG  Email List      Email Blast      Blogs     
Upcoming Events      Todays Events      Ongoing Events      Bar Guide      Community Groups      In Memoriam     
Privacy Policy     

Windy City Media Group publishes Windy City Times,
The Bi-Weekly Voice of the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Trans Community.
5315 N. Clark St. #192, Chicago, IL 60640-2113 • PH (773) 871-7610 • FAX (773) 871-7609.