It’s no coincidence that Erykah Badu already has drawn accolades for her scene-stealing performance in What Men Want, the gender-flipped remake of the 2000 Mel Gibson romantic comedy.
The Dallas native has won four Grammys, but has had a place in her heart for making audiences laugh since she majored in theater at Grambling State University during the early 1990s.
“I always wanted to be in comedy,” Badu said prior to the film’s recent Dallas premiere. “That’s my first love.”
She brings her own eccentric vibe to a small but pivotal role as a pot-dealing psychic with cascading red hair and elongated fingernails whose mysterious “tea” sets the plot in motion. Its ingredients combined with a knock on the head allows Ali (Taraji P. Henson) — a sports agent struggling to break through the glass ceiling — to hear men’s thoughts and gain an edge both personally and professionally.
Badu, 47, landed the opportunity from producer Will Packer (Girls Trip) after recommendations from Henson and the film’s director, Adam Shankman (Hairspray), who sprinkled some of Badu’s ad-libbed outtakes throughout the closing credits.
“I had a wonderful time,” Badu said of the film, which also features a cameo by Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as a poker player. “He [Shankman] gave us all some free reign to do what we wanted to do.”
As for the film’s central premise? The legendary neo-soul singer has her theories, which are tamer than those suggested on screen.
“Men, I know what you want,” Badu said. “You want peace and quiet. You want a sandwich, and pretty much anything else is just extra.”