Suburbicon’s Karimah Westbrook Talks Pivotal Role, Racism and More

Suburbicon is currently getting rave reviews from all over the media spectrum.  From radio to video to digital, people are calling it Autumns best cinematic offering.  While the films trailer is features gripping, suspenseful clips featuring Matt Damon, Julianne Moore, and Noah Jupe, who plays the precocious Nicky, the role of Mrs. Meyers was pivotal to the story arc.    

Suburbicon tells the story of a cookie-cutter housing development typical of the ’50s and early ’60s American Dream.  Mrs. Meyers is based on civil rights trailblazer Daisy Myers, who integrated Levittown, Pennsylvania in 1951 to great consternation and harassment from her white neighbors.  

Though Suburbicon is a fictionalized account of the tribulations of the Myers family, it cleverly combines the delirium that engulfed white communities when they became integrated, while willfully obtuse to the monsters that are already living next door.

SUBURBICON Trailer #2 NEW EXTENDED (2017) Matt Damon Movie HD

SUBURBICON Trailer #2 NEW EXTENDED (2017) Matt Damon Movie HD

Recently I had the privilege of speaking with actress Karimah Westbrook regarding her portrayal of Mrs. Meyers, the inherent truths within Suburbicon, what it was like working on a George Clooney film, and much more.

The Shadow League: What was your initial reaction when first reading this script?

Karimah Westbrook:  Its always sad when you see some form of racism.  Just knowing the history of black people in this country, I empathized with the character greatly being a black woman. Overall, I was proud to play this character, for sure.

TSL: The role of Mrs. Meyers is actually based on Daisy Myers, a black woman who integrated a suburban enclave very similar to the one your character integrates in the film. What did you find when you researched for the character?

KW: Researching for the role of the Meyers was very exciting.  As an actress, that was probably the most exciting part for me.  As I began to peel back the layers, and learning more and more, the fact that Daisy Meyers was the Rosa Parks of the North, that was very exciting.

And to know that they were pretty much civil rights pioneers in breaking the color barrier and being the first black family to move into this all white suburb.  This made national news! All of that was very inspiring.

And, of course, being a woman of color, anytime I hear stories about people of color who have done amazing things, or anyone who does amazing things, it excites me.  Especially during that time for black people. Its like Yeah!

TSL: There is something of a tenuous political atmosphere that has been permeating society in recent memory.  However, Suburbicon clearly illustrates that questions of race and equality are always confrontational when the mainstream rejects its own notion of equality.  In what ways have you seen society change from the time you auditioned for the project until now?

KW:  When I actually went into audition for this movie it was August 2016, so the situation that we were in now as a country is not the situation we were in back then.  We had a completely different person in the office. I definitely see that changes now, and I definitely see how they corelate to the things that were happening in the film in a lot of regards. I see that more now than when I initially started working on the project.

SUBURBICON Trailer (2017)

Official “Suburbicon” Movie Trailer 2017 | Subscribe | Matt Damon Movie #Trailer | Release: 27 Oct 2017 | More A crime mystery set in the quiet family town of Suburbicon during the 1950s, where the best and worst of humanity is hilariously reflected through the deeds of seemingly ordinary people.

TSL: What was your experience working with George Clooney on this project?

KW:  It was great working with George Clooney in Suburbicon.  Hes a very nice person, very sincere.  And hes an actor and director.   Because hes an actor hes more intuitive.  So, a lot of things didnt have to be communicated to him.  If I needed the room to be quiet, he was already there saying We need to clear the room out for this scene, or whatever.  I really enjoyed it.  It was really a great experience working with him.

TSL: Did you have any interactions with Matt Damon?

KW:  It was great being on the set with Matt Damon. I watched Matt Damons movies so Im a big fan.  I had an experience with him one time in the makeup trailer.   We were sitting by each other.  Thats when I learned that his zodiac sign was a Libra.  Hes very kind.  I can say that about everyone I worked with on the project whether I was working directly with them or not.  Everyone on the set was so welcoming. It really felt like a family in a lot of regards.  I didnt feel like anything else.  I was very happy about that.

TSL:  Lets be honest, Suburbicon is a pretty twisted picture. How did you react when you initially read the script?

KW:  Initially, I thought that it was very interesting in the sense that there was a lot of darkness.  The Coen brothers wrote it and Im familiar with some of the Coen brothers work and I knew that some of their projects tended to have a offbeat tone.  I was really interested in the tone of the film because I was thinking that there was nothing funny about racism.  I learned that it actually wasnt a dark comedy, but a very dark drama.  I thought that made more sense.  Overall, I thought it was interesting.

I knew it was supposed to be a play on the suburbs, this safe place where people go to get away from the crime of the city.  But its anything but that.  I feel like things like that happens today, too.

Suburbicon opens in theaters nationwide this Thursday, October 27.   Karimah will also be featured in a guest spot on upcoming episodes of Shameless, 50 Central and you can also catch her in Golden in 2018. 

Back to top