To be versed in various aspects of your craft enables you to dig deep into a breadth of artistic ability and adds versatility to what you do. And while she loves acting and the opportunities to embody new characters, she’s certainly not far removed from being mindful about the importance of her roles and how they reflect the community at large.
The acting bug took a big bite out of Goodman at 14. Her mother supported her love for plays, talent shows and community theatre. However, Whoopi Goldberg’s Oscar-nominated performance in Alice Walker’s The Color Purple inspired her thespian dreams. “When I watched The Color Purple, watching her (Celie’s) emotional journey just broke me open in a way that I had never really experienced before. I had always loved movies, but this one was so impactful,” said Goodman. The message was received loud and clear, and there was no turning back. “I understood what it meant to be an actor and what the job was. I feel like we are an instrument of empathy and creating empathy in the world. ‘Cause if you can see my journey and relate to it, it's not such a step to see the person who's standing or sitting across from you.”
Walking forth equipped with her understanding of what an actor does and can accomplish, Goodman has gone on to amass quite an incredible and extensive resume. In 2015, she won a Canadian Screen Award for "Best Ensemble Performance" in the CityTV comedy Sunnyside. She has also included guest roles alongside series and lead roles in fan favourites like The Handmaid’s Tale, Being Erica and The Umbrella Academy. Presently, Goodman showcases her comedic side as matriarch Flower Underwood in Overlord and the Underwoods on CBC Gem, a new Black family comedy about an alien who is an intergalactic outlaw and distant cousin of the family. Overlord finds himself taking refuge at the Underwoods’ house only to turn their world completely upside down.
There are many facets of Overlord and the Underwoods that make the show special. Firstly, it joins Canadian Black television royalty as the second Black comedy in Canadian television history. How incredibly absurd is that? Nonetheless, what really gets Goodman’s fire burning is the discussion that can take place with her nine-year-old son moving forward. “I’m excited and happy not to be the last. You know, for my son to watch television, I'm excited that he's going to grow up in a world where this is not unique in Canada.” Perspective is everything, and continuing to sow the seeds for harvest is what makes her so enthusiastic. “The same way he gets to grow up in a world where superheroes can be Black because we've watched Into The Spider-Verse a lot, and we watched Black Panther. That was the first superhero movie he saw in theatres. So I'm excited for this not to be an issue or something that we need to discuss. I see this as a step towards seeing everybody’s story.”
Secondly, Overlord and the Underwoods presents something outside of the ordinary—a chance to create a sci-fi show starring a Black family at that. Unfortunately, that’s something you don’t see every day. Goodman says, “One of the things I love about this show is when it was written, it didn't have a Black family in mind. So the discussions are really about family and the dynamic of living with perhaps the worst house guest in the universe, which is fun in itself.” She goes on to state, “As a result, the stories that we're telling are family stories. They're not specifically based on Black trauma. They're not based on our difficulties in the world. It's based on family dynamics, family connection and joy, which I believe are just as important a story to tell as our history is.”
Thirdly, referring to the sci-fi aspect, the show is a rare breed. Black and sci-fi is an uncustomary mix. When was the last time you saw a futuristic Black story reflected on television? “Many of us grew up on Star Wars, and not that many Black people were speaking. So we get to tell a futuristic story, which I think is very important. We weren’t really represented in fantasy or futuristic-type stories at all. So, I think it’s great we can tell a story of the future and a story about family and our Black joy.”
So overall, what’s vital to Goodman? It’s making sure that questions and depictions of race in visual mediums and television are positive portrayals. She wants to ensure that if history is involved, Black people are seen activated in parts where we are the problem-solvers, rather than the instigators or sitting by voicelessly as victims. Goodman is foremost about empowerment as opposed to shame, and we’re all for it.
Goodman has many new projects on the horizon—two Lifetime movies; one alongside Sarah Drew (Grey’s Anatomy), and another called My Loving Stalker, where she plays a detective. Hearing Goodman recount her experience and feelings about the role while filming in Minneapolis is enough to evoke goosebumps and an entirely new article. However, knowing her, it will reflect in her perspective and portrayal of the character.
What is she the proudest of in her career? “I think the proudest thing about my career is that I've stuck to it. I'm sort of living the life that I had wished for, which was to be a professional actor, and it's not always easy. I really enjoy what I do. It's one of those careers where no matter what you get or what part you end up playing, there's still something to be learned from it. There's still so much fun to be had. It's really about the doing of the thing. Not so much about the result.”