NEW YORK — Pam Grier’s role as the owner of a hardware store in rural Nebraska in the ABC sitcom Bless This Mess isn’t a complete departure for the film legend: She lives in rural Colorado and has spent much of her life on ranches to find serenity from Hollywood life.
I commuted to work really for 50 years because I couldn't have that lifestyle that I wanted of horses and ruralness. It would always be the city, hotels, room service,'' Grier said in a recent interview. My grandfather was the first feminist in my life, from Wyoming, who taught all of us girls how to hunt, fish and shoot, so I could bring that to this show, every element, and it just kind of fit,” Grier said.
He had this glow, this peace and this unbelievable calm about him during the day after working sunup, sundown, doing some labor. And he just was so spiritual and enjoyed life, and he would always say, ‘You know, if you wake up breathing, you're going to have a good day.’ And so that's been my mantra since I was a little girl.'' I was surprised at the book signings how many men came up and just let me know that they feel better by me talking.”
She credits that mantra for helping her thrive in her 70th year in a life filled with plenty of highs and lows. Grier made her name as the queen of Blaxploitation films in the 1970s with roles in classics like Coffy and Foxy Brown, but struggled in Hollywood after the genre fell out fashion. She also had tumultuous romances with the likes of Richard Pryor and Freddie Prinze.
The second season of Bless This Mess launches in September.
Grier also was the victim of two sexual assaults — one when she was just 6 years old. She opened up about her personal struggles in her 2010 memoir, Foxy: My Life in Three Acts, and while promoting the book, she learned a lot about the wide range of people who have been victims of sexual assault, including men:
Grier said she’s gratified that many more of her fellow actresses are talking about their experiences with abuse in Hollywood in the era of #MeToo and Time’s Up. She marvels at the impact the movement has had in a relatively short time.
I always say: It's about time. It takes confidence. It takes other people around you to set an example that you won't inflame. ... And it is tough to talk about it,'' she said. "A lot of people haven't healed yet.'' I’m so proud of my hair growing back on my legs after cancer that I don’t shave. … I’m very grateful to have a healthy balance,” she said.
Grier has also successfully battled cancer. While she's still a glamour queen and sex symbol, her experience with the disease has made her eschew at least one of society's beauty norms.