‘Clipped’ Star Cleopatra Coleman Says Recreating Viral Barbara Walters Interview Felt ‘Like a Fever Dream’

The actress tells TheWrap the FX drama hoped to “expand the context” of V. Stiviano’s emblematic conversation

“CLIPPED” — “The Best Words” — Season 1, Episode 5 (Airs Tuesday, June 25th) — Pictured: (l-r) Cleopatra Coleman as V. Stiviano, Carolyn Mignini as Barbara Walters. CR: Kelsey McNeal/FX.

Note: The following story contains spoilers from “Clipped” Episode 5.

The penultimate episode of FX’s “Clipped” recreated a viral moment from its real-life source material, in which notorious Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s personal assistant V. Stiviano spoke with ABC News’ Barbara Walters about the tape she released capturing his racist remarks.

Cleopatra Coleman, who portrays V. in the limited series, described filming and bringing the verbatim conversation to the small screen as a “surreal” and “intimidating” task, and an “out of body” experience that felt like a “fever dream.”

“It is such an iconic moment and there’s so much about it that is so strange. There was so much back and forth from Donald [Sterling] about whether or not he was going to be a part of it. There was this idea that Magic Johnson was going to join them. So it was very, very last minute things changing,” she told TheWrap. “For me, it was about focusing on the idea that she was really on the back foot. She was maybe not very prepared and things were going in a way that she hadn’t expected them to go.”

Coleman argued that the moment is “the intersection of everything that V. is dealing with rising to a fever pitch.”

“She has her own ambitions in how she would like things to go forward for herself. Then she’s got Donald pressuring her,” she added. “She’s making a very public appearance and she’s hoping to follow the playbook of Kim Kardashian. Put on your white suit, talk to Barbara, smooth it all over, become a star, ride off into the sunset. So there’s all of these things that she’s trying to make happen at once and I think that’s where the discomfort of that interview came from.”

For Coleman, one of the most important aspects she focused on getting right was the timing of Stiviano’s speaking and her gestures from the original interview.

“I studied as much as I could. I woke up at like 4 a.m. and the first thing I did that morning was watch that interview. I was in bed and I just had it on my phone. I was just watching it and scrolling back and watching and scrolling back,” she recalled. “I tried to put it in my body and in my mind as much as possible, and try to get whenever she would look up, whenever she would give like a little wry smile, I was trying to get all of those points.”

Cleopatra Coleman as V. Stiviano in “Clipped.” (FX)

“It was very bizarre to show up on set and it looked just like the Four Seasons, and then you have a fake video village and a real video village, and you have a fake makeup artist and you have our real makeup artist and you have [an actress playing Barbara Walters] and she’s nailing the impersonation and it was really like a fever dream to be honest,” she added.

But Coleman also acknowledged it’s difficult for “Clipped” to compete with the actual viral interview.

“Hopefully we just give a taste and it’s more about the context for the purposes of making the show at all,” she added. “You could just make a documentary, but we didn’t want to do that. We wanted to expand on the context in a creative way.”

New episodes of “Clipped premiere Tuesdays on Hulu.


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