Karimah Westbrook says seeing Whoppi Goldberg in film inspired her acting. (COURTESY: Storm Santos)

The CW Network’s new show “All American” received the highest tested pilot episode in the network’s history. “All American” is inspired by life events of professional football player Spencer Paysinger. The Los Angeles Sentinel Newspaper spoke to Chicago native, Karimah Westbrook , who stars in the show along with other notable actors such as Taye Diggs.

LOS ANGELES SENTINEL NEWSPAPER:  How did your acting career begin?

KARIMAH WESTBROOK: Well I started in Chicago. I was acting ever since I was little girl.  My cousins and I would do impersonations and record ourselves. It was more fun at first. I realized later I could pursue this as a career. Whoopi Goldberg was a huge inspiration. I loved seeing someone who looked like me.

LAS: How important is representation in entertainment, especially for the Black community?

WESTBOOK: Firstly, art is supposed to imitate life.  For so long it was one-sided.  A while back we only had about four shows. Although that was satisfying, it was very limited in the amount of stores being told. Watching Whoopi inspired me. That instilled in me that I could do the same thing.  I believe representation creates the possibility of inspiring someone. If you don’t see yourself, you kind of feel like you are not in the equation unconsciously on some level. The change is finally happening and I’m so excited about it.

LAS: Can you elaborate on the premise of “All American”?

WESTBROOK: “All American” is inspired by life events of pro NFL player Spencer Pavsinger. It is the story of when he was recruited to play in Beverly Hills. What’s unique about the show is a lot of situations that happened where inspired by actual events in his life.

LAS: You play his mother on the show.  Did you relate to her in certain ways?

WESTBROOK: I did! Living in an environment and wanting to be exposed to something different, just like she does in the show, connected with me. I want my family in Chicago to be exposed to different environments.  I want to position them for success. But also playing a mom, I want the best for my kids.


LAS: You briefly mentioned success.  From your viewpoint, what do you consider success?


WESTBROOK:  My thoughts on what I consider success is feeling good about myself and the choices I’ve made.  Also, having family that loves me. This is probably one of the biggest dreams I’ve had for a very long time is now being realized and I’m very thankful for that.  But I consider even smaller things because I’m very goal oriented.


LAS:  Some young black girl will watch you play this role and become inspired just like Whoopi inspired you.  What advice would you give them?

WESTBROOK:  I would encourage them and affirm to them that all things are possible.  I would say write out a plan, ask a lot of questions, think out of the box, but more importantly you have to believe in your heart that it is possible. There will be moments where things are good and bad. Sometimes things feel like they are moving slow or are not moving forward, you might now see things right now.  A lot of times we feel that we are ready for something but you are not. There may be certain areas in your life that you might have to grow to get the thing that you say that you want.   So I say in the mean time, continue to study, ask, and learn everything you need to know about the craft. Believe and trust that it will happen.

All American” is set to premiere Oct. 10 on the CW Network.