Published on January 31st, 2020 | by Percy Crawford0
“The Bernie Mac Show” star Camille Winbush Drops Gems!
Camille Winbush shares some knowledge that she’s accumulated from years in the industry.
The phrase, “beyond her years,” may be an understatement for the beautiful, Camille Winbush. Winbush, who was discovered at the tender age of 2, has literally had a 27-year career. That’s a considerable amount of time in front of the camera considering she’s only 29-years old. Hollywood can be harsh, but Winbush’s parents did an amazing job of balancing her stardom while keeping her childhood as normal as possible. Her big break came when she secured the role of, Vanessa Thomkins on “The Bernie Mac Show.” That role led her to being nominated for several awards in which she would win NAACP Image Awards on multiple occasions as well as a Young Artist Award. Her catalog is endless, and she doesn’t seem to be taking her foot off the gas anytime soon.
During our recent conversation, Winbush shares advice given to her by the late great, Bernie Mac that she applies to this day, keys to her longevity in the business and much more.
How is your year starting off?
Camille Winbush: So far, I can’t complain. It’s still early, but it’s off to a good start.
You came into the industry at such a young age. What was that like for you; scary, exciting? Do you remember what it was like?
Camille Winbush: I actually got discovered by a management company when I was 2-years old. So, it wasn’t ever anything that I thought about or really even knew what was going on until I got much older. And by then it just became a part of my life. It was something that I did.
You have worked with some amazing talent. Do you remember some of the advice you were given? Anything you could share?
Camille Winbush: I’ve gotten some good advice from a lot of people over the years that has stuck with me, and that I like to share with other people when they want to get into the industry or ask me for advice. The biggest piece of advice that really resonated with me is from, Bernie Mac. He told me that, “When people call you a star, you’re so famous, you’re this and that, don’t let it go to your head. Stars are in the sky and stars can fall.”
You have remained humble through all the success and accolades. What would you accredit remaining humble and grounded to?
Camille Winbush: I think it’s because I’ve grown up in the business, I never really looked at it as, “Oh wow, this is this or that.” But also, my family has kept me humble. I had a normal childhood. I was still going to gymnastics practice. I still had to do homework. I didn’t get any special star treatment. I was still just a regular kid.
There is always a maturation process to becoming great at anything you start at an early age. You have obviously become a great actress. Do you remember when that moment happened for you where you just felt like you got it and things clicked for you?
Camille Winbush: I think as I’ve gotten older, I have grown to appreciate everything much more. I think for me going to auditions is really hits me that… I’ve been doing this awhile, and you kind of know what to expect. I see people that are just starting out, they might be a little nervous. It makes me appreciate where I am now.
One of the downfalls to seeing child stars literally grow up in front of your eyes is, we see all of the ups and downs. You have been able to stir clear of any controversy or issues. How were you able to avoid the “child star” bug so to speak?
Camille Winbush: I would have to credit my family and my friends. It’s really important to surround yourself with people who have your best interest at heart and people that are going to support you when you do positive things. And they look at you as a regular person and don’t treat you any differently just because you’ve been on TV or in a movie. You have to have a really good support system. I think that helped me tremendously.
Which line of work comes easier, sitcom/network television or movies for you?
Camille Winbush: I think my first love will always be television. That’s where I started. That’s where I’ve had the most success. I think movies are fun to do, but there’s not really any longevity in it. You do a movie for a couple of months and then it’s done. And you move on. But with a television show, it can go on for years. And you really get to develop a character. You just learn so much from being on a set that long.
Can you recall what the days of being on the set of, “The Bernie Mac Show,” was like?
Camille Winbush: Well, actually for kids, you can only be on set for a certain amount of hours. So, depending on your age, the most you can be on a set is 9 ½ hours when you’re under 18. Unless you have emancipated yourself or whatever the situation may be. So, we actually filmed, “The Bernie Mac Show,” 5-days a week and I was on set for that 9 ½ hours and between filming scenes, I would be doing schoolwork. Sometimes it was overwhelming trying to keep up with learning your lines and on top of that you got a science project and you have to go to gymnastics practice until 9:00 at night. But you find a way to make it work.
Listening to you talk, it’s so crazy you were able to live a normal life while being on the show, you were still in school and doing gymnastics.
Camille Winbush: Oh yeah! My parents wanted to make sure that I still had a childhood. And acting and being on TV wasn’t my main focus because they knew and I know that that may not lasts forever, so it was important to have other things that you enjoyed doing and keeping yourself busy with other projects.
I have always wondered how voice-over work worked. Do they show you a picture of a character and then hand you some lines and you go from there? What is it like to pull off voice-over work?
Camille Winbush: Depending on the project. Sometimes they’ll show you a sketch of the character. Or they’ll have the animation already done and you have to prime your voice to the movements of the mouth on the screen. But I actually enjoy it because you get to bring your own flavor to something. It’s a little less stressful than being on camera. You don’t have to worry about makeup and hair. You could come in your pajamas if you wanted to. You don’t have to worry about looking crazy. It’s a little bit easier also. For cartoon work, you could do 3 to 5 episodes of work in a couple of hours.
What would you say would be the keys to longevity for anyone trying to get into the business?
Camille Winbush: I would say consistency. It may not happen overnight. I think a lot of people hear these Cinderella stories of people who, on their first audition booked a blockbuster movie, and it doesn’t always happen like that. Sometimes it takes 10-years to book a role. You have to know that it takes time. You will hear a lot of “no’s” but then you will hear a lot of “yes’s” too. Always have a backup plan. I think that’s important. I’ve seen people give it their all and end up sleeping on couches and they refuse to get a day job because it will interfere with their craft. I don’t believe in giving it your all to where you’re living a life that is less than what you should be living.
When you reflect and realize your accomplishments, you have won numerous NAACP Awards. That’s big time, what is the reflection like for you at this point?
Camille Winbush: It’s always nice to be acknowledged for your work, especially when you put your all into it. To receive those awards more than once was shocking, but I’m super appreciative. I will cherish those memories. But also, to the same note, you can’t do things just for the awards. You do it because you enjoy it, you do it because it’s your passion. Sometimes awards don’t mean anything. You look at the, Oscar nominations, and there’s a lot of people that are missing that deserve the recognition. So, why the awards are great, they are not always the most important.
You have worked with a lot of talented people on the set and you have always held your own; even at a very young age. It must bring your levels up or elevate your game in some fashion.
Camille Winbush: Oh, for sure. Especially after working with such a strong presence like, Bernie Mac. You really have to stay on your toes to be able to hold your own with him. And he taught me so much about feeding off of people’s energy, not being afraid to take risks and try something. He would always tell us, “If you have an idea, say something. Try it out. It might not work, but it might work.” It’s better to give it your all and if you gotta reel it back in, it’s better to reel it back in than not go far enough.
Social media and technology have in some way, shape or form, changed the way things are done in just about every aspect of life and employment. Do you see changes in the film making industry solely on the presence of social media?
Camille Winbush: It’s funny you say that, I was actually having a conversation last night about how YouTube and all of these influencer types have changed the game so much. There are so many ways to get your own content out there. There are tons of content creators that I feel like, regular actors who don’t evolve and have more to offer than just being an actor as opposed to a singer, an actor, a writer and dancer… I feel like, they are kind of obsolete now. It’s definitely a more creative world out there with access to anything because it’s at the tip of your fingers. So, you really gotta step your game up nowadays.
It’s been an honor speaking to you and I hope you have an amazing and prosperous year. Is there anything else you would like to add before I let you go?
Camille Winbush: Thank you for reaching out. I hope anybody reading this interview will take some of the words of advice and put them into action.