In “Top Five,” which is written and directed by Chris Rock, Rosario Dawson plays Chelsea Brown, a New York Times reporter. Her current assignment has her shadowing and interviewing actor Andre Allen (also Rock), as he promotes a new film.
The experience for both Brown and Allen proves an enlightening one. Both have secrets revealed and have to reexamine some of their preconceived notions.
Sitting down to talk to Dawson about the role, she is quite forthcoming about the difficulties inherent in taking part in an interview. Not just from the reporter's end, but the actor's as well.
“There's an art to it,” she tells us, referencing the constructing and asking of questions and keeping the interviewee's “feet to the fire.” There is also, which may be implied but not stated, an art to answering such questions. One wrong sentence on either end and things can go off the rails completely.
Throughout our brief discussion, Dawson makes smart points about the difficulties inherent in interviews, be they long or short, but at some point discussing the finer points of interviewing here, in this article, feels foolish. My offering up Dawson quotes about such difficulties could very easily be seen as self-serving and her answers as disingenuous ones used in an attempt to placate her interviewer (me).
Naturally, I would argue that's not the case, particularly as the interview enters its second half. There, Dawson points out all the problems of a job done poorly, most notably when someone on my end hasn't done the appropriate preparation. She also makes it clear that such problems don't only occur with the interviewer-interviewee relationship; similar breakdowns in communication take place elsewhere as well.
“That happens with everybody,” Dawson explains. “How many times have I been on a movie and been like, 'Oh, this was a comedy? I wish I would've known that, I would've given you a lot more to work with in the editing room.”
What she is talking about, and what a lot of “Top Five” deals with, is the art of conversation, the required back-and-forth between people along with an understanding of where the other person is coming from. Or, at the very least, a willingness to learn. The issue isn't something limited to the entertainment world, it is a part of everyday life and one only needs to look at the news to see how badly we all regularly fail in it.