She may not be a household name yet, but Anika Noni Rose is on the rise. She’s been a pop sensation (in Dreamgirls) and a Disney princess (in The Princess and the Frog)—now she has more down-to-earth aspirations. Rose has joined CBS’ The Good Wife as Wendy Scott-Carr, the mysterious third candidate for state’s attorney. Here’s what she had to say about the show's tight race, her theater background, and musicals that aren’t Glee.
TV.com: Wendy Scott-Carr kind of popped up out of nowhere as a candidate for state’s attorney. Did you know she’d be running when you signed on for the role?
Anika Noni Rose: No, I didn’t. I don’t remember that I knew that. I did know that she was going to be jumping into it, into something, and that people weren’t going to be sure where she came from. Maybe I did know. That was a couple months ago—I can’t remember just now what the conversation was. ... Every time the script comes, there is a new surprise for me—because I’m not quite sure where it’s going. I just knew that I didn’t want to play a typical, boring attorney. If all I’m gonna do is sit around and spout legalese, anyone can do that. What’s going to make her interesting to me? So she is very interesting. She came in a very mysterious type of way, the way she popped in, which I like.
What drew you to The Good Wife? What do you like about the show?
I think the writing is really good. You know, they handle things that are current issues without making them crazy melodramatic. [The characters] seem like real people. They’re having real people issues. There are loads of politicians’ wives out there that are sticking with their husbands despite crazy, ugly things that the husbands have done. As a woman, not in that situation, you look into that and you’re like, “What is she thinking? How could she possibly?” Or even men looking at these people, thinking of the man, how could he do that to a woman that beautiful? Or why would she stay with him? And you never know, because there are so many other things in life that make the decisions you make germane to you.
When it comes to the state’s attorney race, what makes Wendy a better choice than Peter or Glenn Childs?
I think Wendy has a better finger on the pulse of everyday working people than they do. She’s coming in with a fresh sensibility. She has young children, so she is aware of the things children are facing as challenges right now. And there’s a lack of woman power that is fresh and new and coming in right now. So it’s a good time for her.
Now, the boys have definitely been playing dirty. Do you think Wendy will run a clean campaign, or does she have more tricks up her sleeve?
Well, I don’t know that any politician is completely clean. But I do think that Wendy is a good person. She knows how to play the game, as witnessed—she popped up there on that stand, and nobody—save the judge, played brilliantly by Kate Burton—knew what was going on. That’s already a bit of a magic trick. How often in this day and age can you do something that nobody knows about? I think she’s a very strong candidate and she is a good person.
Well, is there any chance Alicia might defect and join the Scott-Carr campaign over her husband’s?
I wouldn’t be able to say that. I would doubt that, simply because it wouldn’t make sense for her to go directly against her husband and tear her family apart in an all-new way. Her kids are already dealing with a lot of strange situations in the household and wondering if they have to choose between mom and dad, public life and private life, and how that sort of stretches and pulls them. [Alicia] seems to be a really good mom, and I don’t think that she would do that, if only for her children’s sake.
Might you be joining The Good Wife full-time at some point? Or is it all still up in the air?
It really isn’t clear what I’ll be doing. Currently I’m just having a lot of fun, so I hope I can continue to do that. It’s a great cast.
It is a great cast, and I couldn’t help but notice that you’re one of many coming from a background in theater. Is that just a coincidence because this is a New York-based show, or is there something that draws theater actors to The Good Wife?
You know, I think that the writers are very interested in the craft of acting. They’re searching out people that they know of who also are into practicing the craft, as opposed to just looking for a name or a face, the power that comes behind that. I’m very thankful for that, because there are so many of us out there always looking for good work and hoping for the opportunity to be seen in such a broad sense. There are some theater people on this show that you may have never seen before—you may not have known who they were for some time if not for this show. I mean, it’s a wonderful outlet for New York actors. Christine Baranski is just fantastic! Josh [Charles] is wonderful. It’s a load of fun to be here with these people and playing with these people, the way we get to.
Because you do have this musical theater background, I have to ask—Glee is obviously a huge hit, and now The CW is talking about making another musical-themed show. Do you feel like there is a place for the musical on TV, and is that something you’d be interested in being a part of?
I think there is a place for the musical on television. Certainly Glee has shown that. It would be interesting to see people singing live on a show—or if not live, in some what of a naked way so you really hear what people are doing in the rehearsal process and what leads up to what they do, when all is said and done. But I certainly think there’s room for that. Do I think that I want to be part of that? I don’t know. It would depend on what it is. I’m not gonna do it just because there’s a musical on TV. If there’s a musical on the radio, I can sing along in the house to that. [laughs] It has to be something that’s really interesting to me, and it would be interesting if they took a different step. They don’t need to make another Glee. Glee is there. They need to do something that is different and makes it identifiable outside of Glee.
The Good Wife airs Tuesdays at 10:00pm on CBS.