Actress Holly Robinson Peete recalls some of her career ups and downs, from her big break on the '80s police drama “21 Jump Street” (and the first time she saw Johnny Depp) to her more recent stint on the controversial talk show “The Talk.”
- Look, Judy, since you are the most qualified female officer--
- I'll do it.
- You don't have to, you know?
- I said I can handle it.
HOLLY ROBINSON PEETE: I loved 21 Jump Street, and I cannot believe it was 30 years ago. I was just in my 20s and so new, so green. The blessing of 21 Jump Street for me was being able to have such an awesome part.
The character of Judy Hoff is she was kind of, like, every girl, and she was written in such a way that was not like, oh, we're going to pigeonhole her as a black character. From, like, 1987 to the early '90s, I mean, there were just a few black female leaders. There was like Jasmine Guy, and maybe Olivia Brown, who was on Miami Vice. So that's what I loved about Jump Street.
It was just super ahead of its time, whether it was LGBT, guns in school. We were ahead of our game. I remember very vividly when Johnny Depp joined the cast. A lot of people don't realize that he was a replacement.
I knew, as soon as he walked in with them old holey jeans, and that hat, and the combat boots. I looked at him, I was like, oh, my goodness, like this guy is going to be an international superstar. He had that x factor, that thing. He was gorgeous, yeah, but there was something else.
The third or fourth season when Johnny got, like, disgruntled, it got less fun. And I didn't never hear him do interviews saying, I'm really appreciative of that show, because it made me who I am. But I think maybe he wanted to be a movie star, but we were so bonded. We were all so tight.
And then three, four, or five seasons, everybody kind of went their own way, and I wanted to be on that show. I was in episode one, and I was in episode 101. And I was like, I don't care what y'all are doing. I love this character, and I want to continue to play her. It was a special show. I'm super proud of it.
I am shocked that anybody's still talking about Howard the Duck. Because in 1986 when we did this movie, I just knew this movie was going to be a monster hit. It was George Lucas produced. It was a $100 million budget. It was huge, and it flopped.
I mean, it flopped hard. It used to be like I took that off my resume. I don't want nobody to know I was in that movie. And then, now, it's like, oh yeah, that was me. I played a character in a band called Cherry Bomb, and we were, like, a fictional band.
But we actually played, and we sang. And to be able to sing on that soundtrack-- I always wanted to be a singer. I love singing. --was so cool. So 35 years later, to see people enjoying the movie, or like it's almost become like a cult classic now, it's hilarious to me.
The most challenging thing about coming on to a show that is in its fifth season is that everybody is so warmed up, and they all know each other's energy. And you got to make sure that you're in that same speed, that same gear, so it's kind of like diving in with everything you've got. Fortunately, for me, I have friends over there that I've known for years.
Katy Mixon, I worked with on Mike and Molly. And Deedric Bader, I worked with years ago on 21 Jump Street. That's how far back we go, so I really felt such a warm welcome there. Holly would never put up with the way her daughter Grace talks back to her, but it's fun playing a character that is dealing with that struggle.
I would consider doing another talk show. I did one year of The Talk, and I was really in my element, like I was surprised at how much at ease I was on live TV. After The Talk, I went around, and sort of met with a lot of people about doing it, and did some stints here, some sit-ins there, but then got sidetracked with some other TV stuff I was doing.
And what I loved about The Talk was that I was able to talk about hot topics, parenting, and being a mom. And I felt really good about that. I would love to do a show with Lea Remini. We had so much chemistry together.
I have to say, Amanda Seales is somebody who intrigues me, because I have never seen someone spit truth like that in my life. She's so gifted at it, so she might be somebody that'd be fun to sit next to. But in the end, I think that, you know, chemistry is very important, and when you find that, you've got to run with it.