Loretta Devine is a national black treasure. In addition to being practically everyone's imaginary auntie, Devine is also one of the hardest working actresses in the entertainment industry. Her career spans decades, with television and movie roles in everything from "A Different World" to "Crash."
This month, Devine stars in "Caged No More," a film that chronicles the harrowing realities of human trafficking. She plays Aggie, a caretaker who is willing to do anything to save two little girls kidnapped and sold into slavery overseas -- by their own father.
"I did have prior knowledge to human trafficking," Devine told The Huffington Post, "but you can't really imagine it until you see it. That's why this movie is important, it explains the situation, it shows how difficult it is to actually get these children back, and how their lives are so terribly destroyed."
Devine, a prolific character actress, takes on the lead role in the movie, which was filmed in Baton Rouge and also stars Kevin Sorbo and Cassidy Gifford. The actress relished the chance to headline a movie with a diverse cast. It's a chance that she admits doesn't come all the often in Hollywood.
"There are a lot of diverse independent films that get made, and they end up going straight to DVD. A-List movies are different," Devine explained.
"If you're a black woman, you have to have an Oscar or have been nominated for an Oscar to get into an A-List film."
Devine, who currently stars on the hit NBC sitcom "The Carmichael Show," says she's happy about the current influx of black woman on television like Kerry Washington, Viola Davis, and Gabrielle Union, even though she feels like she's missing out: "If you're a black woman in your 20s or 30s, you can be a leading lady."
At 66, Devine has spoken candidly in the past about her dream of playing the lead in a romantic comedy, but her aspirations don't end there. "Sometimes I think, oooh, I'd love to be in the Marvel movies, because those characters are so incredible. Like what Leslie Uggams got to do with Deadpool -- that was amazing."
And yet, Devine, whose career was sparked in Broadway's "Dreamgirls" back in 1981, sees her work as a contribution toward shows of today, like "Scandal" and "Being Mary Jane," where she had a recurring guest role.
"You feel like, in a way, that you're doing something good. You just want people to feel like the sky's the limit -- if I can, so can you," Devine says.
"It makes me feel good to see images of myself from over the years. People still watch 'This Christmas,' 'Waiting to Exhale,' 'The Preacher's Wife'... I never know what they're going to come up to me and talk to me about, and that's such a blessing."
"Caged No More" is now available on DVD. Learn more about the film here.