Whoopi Goldberg is many things: an EGOT Winner, head chair of The View, and an advocate for actresses of a certain age. Goldberg revealed the latter when she became the second-ever recipient of our very official honorary degree, Master of Culture. In conversation with E. Alex Jung for Vulture Festival, Goldberg revealed a lot about her career defining turn as Deloris Van Cartier in the classic film Sister Act, including how she made the role originally intended for Bette Midler her own. “Marc Shaiman taught me how to sing,” Goldberg shared, shouting out Shaiman who wrote the musical arrangements for the film and would go on to compose Hairspray and Smash. “He taught me what to do. And once we were able to establish that she was a one hit wonder and she had just gone this far and then all this happens and she’s working in the casinos, you know, it made it a lot easier to do. And then everyone was ok.”
While Goldberg’s singing lessons made everything ok for her, everything was decidedly not ok with the actresses who were playing the nuns, who were being mistreated by production. “The ladies hadn’t gotten everything I thought they should have gotten - the nuns,” Goldberg clarified. “They were older women. They were women who I felt… should be able to go and have dinner and not be worried about paying hotels or whatever it was.” Like a true Master of Culture, Goldberg took matters into her own hands and “worked it out” for her sisters, conveniently falling ill during the shoot and shutting down production for “a day or two” until the matter was sorted. While many, including Jung, would say she effectively went on strike for her fellow cast mates, Goldberg wouldn’t go so far. “I got sick,” Goldberg said, coyly. “I would never go on strike. But if my coughing and sneezing coincided with our brief problem, but they fixed it and it was great.” Whoopi Goldberg: comedic legend and champion of elder actresses.
You can re-watch the entire event on at VultureFestival.com before the festival ends on November 1, and see what other amazing lessons you can learn from Whoopi Goldberg, Master of Culture.