From Oakland to the Oscars, Luenell still feels like an underdog

Luenell arrives at the 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles.
Luenell arrives at the 25th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards at the Shrine Auditorium & Expo Hall on Sunday, Jan. 27, 2019, in Los Angeles. Jordan Strauss/Invision

Luenell is gaga over her “A Star Is Born” cast mates. The comic-actress had a brief role in the critically acclaimed film: a cashier inside the gas station shop where Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper’s characters first bond.

She’s only on screen for a few minutes, but she has told Vulture how privileged she felt to be one of four comedians hand-picked by Cooper to appear in the film.

She also was able to be part of the awards show ride as the film, actors and music were nominated for a slew of awards, including the Oscars.

She will appear at Goodnights March 14-16. We spoke to her before her arrival while calling from Ontario, Calif.

Q: What is it like for a girl who grew up in hardscrabble Oakland to have an amazing seat at the Oscars?

A: It was a dream come true last month when I was at the Oscars. You watch that red carpet coverage and the award show and you think you’re so far away from it. You don’t realize how obtainable it all is until you move to Los Angeles.

Q: What was it like working with Lady Gaga?

A: (Laughs). Wonderful. Lady Gaga and I are tight. I reminded her that I worked with her on the video for “Telephone” (with Beyonce). All of us had a great time together. Gaga is great. She is incredibly talented. She is a woman of the people. She was bullied when she was growing up and had to fight hard for her place.

Q: What about working with Bradley Cooper?

A: He’s amazing. He reminds me of a young Paul Newman. Bradley is the kind of guy who walks into a room and the molecules change. The great thing about him is that he’s so nice to work with. He’s a great guy and that’s part of the reason he’s a great director. You want to do all that you can for a guy like him.

Q: Was it acting, or were Gaga and Cooper falling in love on the set?

A: It sure looked like they were falling in love. I don’t know how you don’t fall in love when you’re acting together. All I know is that they are amazing together. They have incredible chemistry.

Q: How does it feel to be breaking out as a star at this point in your life?

A: I’m the underdog. It’s great being the underdog. Who would ever think that I would get to this point as an older, heavyset woman in a youth and body obsessed age? It’s crazy and I’m enjoying every minute of it.

Q: Redd Foxx and Rodney Dangerfield broke late.

A: Joan Rivers was a housewife when she was getting into comedy. I’ve been doing this for 30 years and I love where I’m at right now.

Q: What are some of the things you’ll talk about when you perform in Raleigh?

A: Money, kids, college. I’ll talk about relatable stuff.

Q: What was your favorite movie experience?

A: Being in Adam Sandler’s “That’s My Boy” (in 2012). So many stars were in that movie. I had so many friends. Ciara was my daughter. There were so many crazy fools in that movie, like Todd Bridges and Rex Ryan. That was a fun movie since Adam Sandler went back to making raunchy comedies after doing one nice family film after another. I loved doing that film and “Borat.”

Q: Who is your favorite comedian?

A: Sam Kinison. There was no one like him before he arrived and no one like him since he died.

Q: How are you celebrating your 60th birthday?

A: Bite your tongue for mentioning my age but I’ll tell you what I’ll do. I’m going to work. I’m going to do stand-up. That’s the great thing about what I do. It doesn’t feel like work. I love it. I think that’s what keeps you young


Who: Luenell

When: 8 p.m. March 14, 7:30 and 10 p.m. March 15-16, 7:30 p.m. March 17

Where: Goodnight’s, 861 W. Morgan St., Raleigh.

Tickets: $20 to $26

Info: 919-828-5233 or goodnightscomedy.com

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