Jackée Harry is a very funny lady.
Known for her roles in “The Women of Brewster Place” and “Sister, Sister,” Harry was the first African American to win an Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series for “227” in 1987.
She is currently touring with “Momma’s Boy.” The play, by Priest Tyaire, will be at the Joel Coliseum for one night only at 8 p.m. Nov. 4.
Harry was on a short break from touring last week and gave a phone interview from her home in Los Angeles. The “Momma’s Boy” tour, which began in September, will continue through Dec. 2.
Then, she said, she’ll get to rest.
Harry was born in Winston-Salem and lived here until her family moved to Harlem, N.Y., when she was 9. Her brother, Miles, and sister-in-law, Cheryl Harry, still live here.
“I took acting lessons when I was 13 at the Henry Street Settlement,” Harry said. “I took singing, dancing and acting. My teachers took me under their wing, and taught me all they knew.”
Henry Street Settlement provides a wide range of social service, arts and health-care programs to more than 60,000 New Yorkers annually. It was Founded in 1893 by social work and public-health pioneer Lillian Wald and is based on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.
From the Henry Street school, Harry went to the Manhattan High School for the Performing Arts, of “Fame” fame. She taught school briefly before successfully breaking into television in 1983 as Lily Mason on “Another World.”
Harry has been working steadily in show business ever since, in TV, film and on the stage.
“Momma’s Boy” takes a humorous look at what happens when a mother holds on to her son too long.
Set in the inner city, Aaron and Autumn join forces as police officers in a town plagued by violence. Autumn is forced to move into Aaron’s home with her sons. Autumn has spoiled and catered to her sons’ every need which has earned them the title of being momma’s boys.
In an awkward turn of events, Autumn decides to confront Aaron about his own relationship with his mother. Aaron’s mother, who has lived with him for the past 10 years, feels that no woman can take care of her son like she can. She has run off potential prospects in the past and intends to do same with Autumn.
The question is how can Aaron turn Autumn’s boys into men when he is a “Momma’s Boy” himself? Robin Givens plays Autumn.
“I play a woman, Miss Kathy, who runs the police station for the ‘Momma’s Boy,’ and I’m a cougar,” Harry said with a big laugh. A “couger” is a woman of a certain age who is attracted to and attracts younger men.
Harry said that the worst thing about touring is that you don’t have control of your life.
“The best thing is the people who I work with,” she said. “They really are marvelous.” Other cast members include Johnny Gill.
When she finishes the “Momma’s Boy” tour, Harry will be working on “The Paynes,” a spin-off from Tyler Perry’s “House of Payne.” It will be on Oprah Winfrey’s network, OWN.
“I feel like I’ve come full circle,” Harry said. Winfrey produced and starred in “The Women of Brewster Place,” a mini-series in 1989. Harry played Etta Mae Johnson.