As part of a longer conversation about personal experiences with police brutality, the star of Lovecraft Country described her and Questlove’s experience with getting pulled over by the police in the largely white Marina Del Rey neighborhood of Los Angeles in 2008, shortly after leading a grassroots fundraiser for then-presidential nominee Barack Obama. She recalled taking out a huge camcorder to film the officer who pulled them over, before the police asked them both to get out of the car, patted both of them down – “in ways that, I will say, was incredibly violating” – and put them in the back of the police car.
“They didn’t give an explanation,” she said. “We sat there for what felt like an eternity, sitting in the back of that car. We didn’t know what to say, we just sat there in silence.”
Ironically, Questlove added, he had just won a Grammy Award that very same week. “The weirdest shit was, they wanted to look in the trunk,” he said. “My manager Dawn had just moved to L.A., and I wanted to get her a deluxe Scrabble game … I was like, ‘He’s gonna open this trunk, and see all these Scrabble games and psychology books in the back, and he’s gonna think there’s no way this car belongs to these two.’”
“We made it out alive – that’s better than a lot of people in this situation. That’s a shitty reality to have to settle for,” Smollett concluded. “That’s the shitty thing about driving while black, or walking while black.”
The full episode of Questlove Supreme will be released on Wednesday, October 14th.