Determined Actress Terri Abney Reflects On ‘Loving’ Journey

Director Jeff Nichols’ Loving, the story of how Richard and Mildred Loving’s (Joel Edgerton, Ruth Negga) relationship led to the landmark Supreme Court case ‘Loving v. Virginia,’ is one of this year’s finest films. A huge reason for its creative success rests on the organic, lived-in performances delivered by its ensemble. Terri Abney, who plays Mildred’s loyal to the bone sister Garnet, talked to us about her personal acting journey.

Alano Miller as Raymond, Terri Abney as Garnet, Ruth Negga as Mildred, and Joel Edgerton as Richard in Jeff Nichols LOVING, a Focus Features release. Credit : Ben Rothstein / Focus Features
Alano Miller as Raymond, Terri Abney as Garnet, Ruth Negga as Mildred, and Joel Edgerton as Richard in Jeff Nichols LOVING, a Focus Features release.
Credit : Ben Rothstein / Focus Features

The press kit which came with Loving describes Abney as a Washington D.C. native who attended Clark Atlanta University to study acting. Along with her work in Loving, Abney has also been featured in filmmaker John Hillcoat’s ambitious, multi-layered crime drama Triple 9, Lyfe’s Journey, Chasing Waterfalls, and the OWN series Greenleaf.

Acting, no matter how one proceeds, is a tough career. Adversity, however, has knocked on Abney’s door many a time, and she’s channelled her past tragedies (as well as her close bond with her family) to fuel her process. The result is right up there on the screen, as her work in Loving comes from a real place.

Abney’s mother is an ex-drug addict and prostitute who has been “in and out of jail.” The grandmother that raised the actress was murdered when Abney was 16, and her father was also a drug dealer. Such situations would cripple any individual, but Abney went an entirely different direction.

“I’ve been in crack houses, I’ve been homeless,” said Abney. “But I have so much to use. Art imitates life, and my life helped me to hopefully bless someone else and inspire others. At the end of the day, I’m not homeless and I’m not poor anymore. I’m still growing and learning, but none of it killed me. It just really helped to make me a better artist.”

In the following clip below, I asked Abney if she applies pure craft to her acting roles or if she channels past memories to her work (or maybe both?). Check out Abney’s candid and insightful (as well as resonant) answer to the question:

Loving opens nationwide Friday, November 4th. My review of Loving is featured in the CinemAddicts episode below:

Greg Srisavasdi

Editor/Owner of Find Your Seen and Deepest Dream, I'm also a BFCA member and editor of Hollywood Outbreak. I also do a weekly movie review podcast called CinemAddicts. BFCA member, Clippers and UCLA Bruins lifer!!

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