A talented, versatile actress of both film and TV, Alfre Woodard has pushed the limits of her craft. As Gayle discovers, Alfre takes her personal life's work to equally great heights. Gayle talks with the Academy Award-nominated, Emmy- and Golden Globe-winning actress about the beauty of aging, marriage and her work for Vaseline's Skin Voice campaign. Plus, Alfre speaks about her important work in South Africa.
Having recently welcomed her 54th birthday with open arms, Alfre says she feels aging is a privilege and a blessing. "Why give aging a bad name? Why drag yourself like a ball and chain?" says Alfre. "Each day you have, you've had a chance to become wiser, riper, more interesting—and I want to talk to people that are mature."
Alfre also celebrated another milestone—her 22nd wedding anniversary with her husband, writer Roderick Spencer. Although Alfre says that marrying a white man went against the social norms of the time, she never regarded the color of their skin as a roadblock in their happy union. "Love is too precious and too fleeting and it comes from God. It's a spiritual quality, and God doesn't see all the boundaries and the borders and the BS that we put up," she says. "So you can decide, 'Am I going to live, myself, as a prisoner of social history? Or am I going to live this one time that I'm alive and connect with the person that spiritually [I'm] meant to walk this walk with?'"
The actress also talks about her collaborations with Skin Voice, a campaign launched by Vaseline that asks people to share online what their skin means to them. As a spokesperson for Skin Voice, Alfre speaks lovingly and reverently about her own skin. "It's seen me grow and become the woman that I am," Alfre says, "and it's got little marks and divots and wrinkles now, but it's my history on earth and it has never failed me because no matter what I've done to it, how rashy and ashy it got, it keeps peeling and regenerating and living."
Alfre also talks about her fourth trip to South Africa, where she has been actively involved in human rights efforts since the late 1980s. Since the end of apartheid, Alfre says she has shifted her work from political goals to combating AIDS and HIV. Having met with children whose parents and relatives had died from AIDS, and were now the heads of households, Alfre says she witnessed an incredible sense of spirit—despite their hardships and lack of resources. "It's this thing that made them withstand the apartheid years and come through that still with their joy and living culture," says Alfre, "and I think it's something that's going to bring them through the scourge of HIV."