By Neiko DeBarge
We at POSE Magazine love looking for women who exemplify the phrase, “Be More, Live More, Live Plus.” We’ve found a smart and hilarious one this time—It’s superstar comedian, Luenell Campbell—better known as just “Luenell.” POSE Magazine caught up with her in Southern California to talk about everything from her extreme confidence with her sexuality to her community achievements and what’s next for the budding superstar.
POSE: Thank you for joining POSE Magazine today. How are you?
LUENELL: No problem. I’m doing well. Three interviews today and a radio show!
POSE: Busy day. LOL! Well, I know you have a lot to do, so let’s talk!
POSE: Let’s start with your big break in the comedy movie “American Hustle.” When Katt Williams was at the height of his career and gave you the opportunity to take your career to a different level, how was that adjustment?
LUENELL: That was a great adjustment, because he was and is a dear friend of mine. We knew each other when we didn’t have nothing. So, for somebody to do what they said they were gonna do—to reach back and grab your hand on the ride up—was a great and wonderful experience. Plus, to actually have some money in your pocket that you feel you deserve and actually get ahead on, was also a great thing. The tour was so popular that we made a film. So, it was a great experience; one that I’ll never forget.
POSE: Being a female in the comic industry, what are some challenges you face being one of the more successful comedians?
LUENELL: Some of the bigger obstacles are being a single mom and having to be away from my kid, missing activities. Also, not getting paid the money that some of the others get paid. Being very salty about that; not getting commercials and endorsement deals like the fellas do, and not getting the big machine that pushes them and endorses them. You have to fight a lot for treatment and money.
POSE: Speaking of obstacles —Watching your shows, you have a really sexual show! Was it always your plan to make that your niche?
LUENELL: I doubt that I would have been in the game for 23 years, consistently, if I wasn’t comfortable. I can’t do anything that I’m not comfortable doing. Nobody set that tone for me; I set it myself. So, I’m extremely comfortable talking about sexual matters because it surpasses race, color, and anything like that. Everybody has sex, no matter what nationality you are. That’s one of the reasons my audience is so diverse. It’s not a black thing, white thing or even an Asian thing. It’s a people thing.
POSE: Were you ever afraid that women would look at you and say, “She’s doing way too much?!” Or is it more of a power thing for women to use?
LUENELL: No, I’ve never been afraid of that because I think I speak for women. I’m the voice for women, and I say a lot of things that women would like to say to their man, but they don’t know how to say it. So, they bring them to my show hoping that I say some things that their men need to hear. I never had a problem feeling that way.
POSE: Social media is really big these days—How important is that in today’s comedy scene?
LUENELL: Facebook bores me like MySpace, but I do love Instagram and Twitter. I’m not big on Vine, but I do what I need to do. I have a publicist to do some of that for me. I was watching television the other day and they had a conversation, “Is social media killing relationships and romance?” and I do believe that it is, because a lot of times you could have four or five people in the room and everyone is on their phone, nobody is communicating with each other or looking at each other. You can be in a car and the other person isn’t paying attention to the road. So, I’m into it, but I’m not obsessed with it.
POSE: Okay, so speaking of Instagram. Recently, there was a partially nude photo of you released to the world. Was that intentional?
LUENELL: I’ll just say that I don’t care about that nip slip picture getting out and it didn’t do a thing to hurt my career. As a matter of fact it made me real popular for a day! LOL! However, it still didn’t get me on the popular side. I wasn’t trending, so it wasn’t as big of a deal as people thought it was. I did “Kandi Koated Nights” the next day and it helped her ratings, but it didn’t do a giant thing for me. It made people talk, but really no big deal.
POSE: You mentioned “Kandi Koated Nights,” and I also saw you have worked with Snoop Dogg on his web-based show. Can we expect a “Luenell Show?”
LUENELL: Well, I’m on a web series right now with Margaret Cho called “In Transition,” and that’s pretty edgy. Although I don’t have my own show, I do have a comedy coming out with Snoop, and I often do an episode or two of Snoop’s web-based show called “GGN News Network.” I’m not real huge on Internet shows because they really don’t generate me any money, and I’m all about my paper! I think all that recreational stuff is all good; however, for me, I will do that later, but right now I’m trying to get paid. I’m looking more for network television exposure.
POSE: Let’s go back a little. You live in Southern California; however, you were raised in Northern California. Because of your current success and fame, do you ever go back to contribute community service?
LUENELL: Right now, I’m working with a charity called the “Keira foundation.” It helps girls who age out of the system. If you turn 18 and nobody has adopted you and you don’t have a family, what do you do then? We try to link those girls up with people to get houses and job placements and things of that nature. It can be a lonely, scary world when you have to get out there and you’re no longer under the shelter of the system—no matter how bad it may be. Also, I just won a show called “Who gets the last laugh?” I won $10, 000, and I was able to donate that money to “Autism Speaks” because I have friends who have kids with the disease. The fight goes on with that. I’m always down for working with anything that has to do with AIDS or Pediatric AIDS. I haven’t latched on to anything in my community at this moment because I’m not here all the time.
POSE: Now, we know you take the time to inspire other young women. How is “Luenell” the mom? And is your daughter interested in comedy?
LUENELL: My daughter is not at all interested in comedy. She’s a dancer. I try to mentor and give advice to the young women who I help out through the foundation and do whatever else I could do. As long as they have the drive, determination, and the talent to do so. I’m not really into wasting my time trying to nurture somebody who doesn’t really have it. You either have it or you don’t. If they don’t, I’m gonna try to convince them to go to college to get their education.
POSE: Are there any young up and coming female comedians that excite you as the next big thing?
LUENELL: They’re all over the place—Miami, New York, Chicago—you just have to really keep your eyes open. I would suggest to people to go out to the clubs to support these young comics coming up, because they always need audiences to perform in front of—that’s the only way they’ll be able to get any better—by getting feedback from the audience. There are some things that will always remain old school; there is no shortcut way of getting around that.
POSE: When I see you, you seem to be so comfortable doing what you do. If you weren’t a comedian, what is it that you would be doing?
LUENELL: I would probably be working with kids or maybe working in a group home—some sort of counseling, or maybe even teaching. I have a BA degree in English, so I would probably teach.
POSE: What can we expect from you next? Any films?
LUENELL: I just finished a movie called “School Dance” that was written and produced by Nick Cannon. He wrote a part specifically for me. It is very funny and it stars Kevin Hart, Mike Epps, Katt Williams, Wilmer Valderrama, Amber Rose, and Kristina Debarge. We’re looking for that to come out soon. I also just did an interview for MSNBC Nightly News and I’ll be taping an episode of the talk show “Bethenny.” I just got back from New York Fashion Week and you can check that out on Instagram @Luenell and follow me on Twitter at the same handle.
POSE: Speaking of Nick Cannon, will you be doing anything with “Wildin Out”?
LUENELL: You know I was asked, and I told him I think I may be getting too old for the cast. Nick keeps hounding me about that. I don’t
want to hurt nobody feelings. A Ol’ G’ come on there and set it off! LOL But it’s very much possible.
POSE: Well, we at POSE Magazine wish you the best of luck and success with all of your upcoming endeavors and can’t wait to check out the new film “School Dance.”