Smitty: Joining me at JazzMonthly.com is an incredible actress, director, producer, writer with a long list of credits. You no doubt remember her from hit TV series like The Facts of Life and one my favorites, Living Single. She has made an amazing contribution to jazz, she’s a friend of the arts, and just an awesome person, and I’m just so happy to have her here to talk with me today at JazzMonthly.com. Please give a strong and warm welcome for the enchanting Ms. Kim Fields. Kim, how ya doin’, my friend?
Kim Fields (KF): Well, after that introduction, I am doing amazing, thank you.
KF: You know, I think I’m just gonna cut and paste that introduction and just carry it around in my purse.
Smitty: (Laughs.) Well, you are so welcome and you deserve every bit of that and much more, let me tell ya.
KF: Thank you.
Smitty: Wow, well, it’s great to talk with you and you’ve got so many wonderful things going on. You have got to be one of the happiest people on earth.
KF: I’ll tell you what, man. God is so good. God has just blessed me and smiled on me, and I am grateful for it.
Smitty: Absolutely. And I’m just thinking, you just recently married, you just had a baby. Wow. Talk about that a little bit. I mean, the baby. I was so excited when I heard about that.
KF: Well, thank you. Well, my fiancé—well, now my husband—but at the time, my fiancé Chris [Morgan] and I, we had decided last year that we wanted to start our family and that we were certainly ready for that blessing, and so we started last summer planning and starting to try to start our family, and we were blessed to get pregnant, then we had Sebastian [Sebastian Alexander Morgan aka Sam] this past May, May 4th, and then Chris and I said “You know, the things that we wanted are in place and just for where we are, let’s go ahead and get married as well,” so we did that and had a very, very private, very private and an impromptu ceremony, if you will, and our dear family friend for over twenty years, Donny McClurkin, was kind enough to marry us on his day off, on Monday, and it’s been great.
Smitty: Well, that’s fantastic and congratulations on all of those terrific things happening in your life.
KF: Thank you, thank you.
Smitty: And that’s such a cool thing. You’ve been in film and movies and done so much in Hollywood over the years, and you’re still a young person and you’ve accomplished so much.
KF: Well, thank you very much. Let my doctors know it, though. If I want another child, I better hurry up. (Both laugh.) So how nice to hear somebody say that I’m still a young person. Thank you.
Smitty: Oh yeah.
KF: Because everyone tells me I certainly look the same, but at 38, listen, I’m very excited about my age and being in my thirties and all that’s in store for me, coming around at the end of my thirties and going into my forties, and I’m blessed to feel great and just hopefully just keep doing my thing.
Smitty: Yeah, and speaking of that, doing your thing, you’ve done it with such grace and style, with professionalism and with such elegance, and that says a lot these days about people like yourself, and I want to applaud you and commend you and congratulate you on such a marvelous and just such a stellar career.
KF: Thank you. Listen, I certainly could not have had any kind of career without the beautiful and seemingly never-ending support of the people who have supported my career since I was a kid. I mean, whenever I take the time to really stop and think about it—or as my husband would say, when I stop to take inventory—it’s really very mind blowing. I mean, in all honesty, and it’s not something that I ever get used to, which I guess is a good thing because then you don’t take it for granted.
Smitty: Yes, so true.
KF: But to have the fan base that I have and for it to continue to grow for people who have grown with me and still want to see what I’m doing in any area, whether it’s as a producer, as a director, as an actress, as a poet, I mean, it’s all these different things and so it’s a blessing, you know? It absolutely is, and to also be a woman and have all this happen and then a person of color, I mean, it’s like traditionally I would just already be starting out in the red, so to speak, let most people tell it.
Smitty: Yeah, I know what you mean.
KF: And being able to have this kind of testimony and also the fact that, coming from a single parent home and coming from Harlem, and just all these different things that people would never say “Oh yeah, 30 years later she’ll still be going strong and being very successful and about to embark on another brand new wave of success.”
Smitty: Absolutely, and we are so excited for you.
KF: Thank you.
Smitty: Yeah. Now, you gotta tell me. How did you, in all of these beautiful things you’ve done in Hollywood, how did jazz come into the picture with you? Because I know you’re a great lover of jazz.
KF: Very much so.
Smitty: And I know you’re a friend of a friend of mine. We have a mutual friend in Najee.
Smitty: And I’m just curious. How did jazz come into your life?
KF: Well, I’ve always been a fan of the music, from straight ahead and smooth jazz and anything in between, jazz fusion…I’ve just always been a fan and am loving the music and loving a lot of the history of it, especially in some of the straight ahead. I mean, that history is just fantastic.
Smitty: Yes it is.
KF: And so how it began to, I guess, to come to be a part of my career, Paxton Baker over at BETJ, which used to be BET Jazz, I’m sure you know.
KF: They asked me to produce and direct a documentary on the findings that the Library of Congress found from the Monk and Coltrane performance at Carnegie Hall. And Blue Note, the wonderful people at Blue Note, they decided to work with Thelonious Monk—or T. S. Monk, rather—and Ravi [Coltrane] and their family and things, to be able to preserve and really bring those recordings to life, and so I did this documentary. So that was kind of my first foray into the marriage of my private love for jazz and music becoming a lot more professional. Prior to that I had directed one or two specials—again, for BETJ—down in the islands because they have all those different concerts down there.
Smitty: Yes, great concerts.
KF: And so I would do the preview show where I would go down and I’d either host it or I’d host it as well as produce and direct it, and so I’ve been doing a lot more of those. This fall I’ve got the Barbados special airing that I produced and directed, and in November we’re actually going to the island of Anguilla for that festival that I’m also producing and directing. And Chris, my husband, is hosting that one as he just did for Barbados. So I have to thank BETJ profusely because they really gave me this huge, huge entrée in opening those doors for me to be able to marry these worlds. I also did a black history month campaign with T. S. Monk for a piece that he performed in his show, a really dynamic piece called “Bid Em In,” and it’s a very moving poem about slave auctioning, and so we did kind of an artistic presentation of it in three kind of installments in February a couple of years ago. So they’ve been really receptive to me and the projects that I enjoy doing for them, and that’s really how it came about.
Smitty: Wow, well, that’s a very interesting way of doing it and you got in where it’s just beautiful working with that kind of material and to do it in sort of a research kind of format must have exposed you to so many wonderful things about the music.
KF: Oh, it did, absolutely. So many wonderful things, so many wonderful people, so many other wonderful jazz historians. Just meeting Ravi and T. S. Monk, I mean, meeting them and discovering their talent and discovering them as people and them as musicians and taking them on their own merit as opposed to “the son of,” you know what I mean?