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Vanessa Bell Calloway 1979

Vanessa Bell Calloway 1979

March 6, 2013                                                                  By Rodney Ho

Actress Vanessa Bell Calloway swung through Atlanta this week and did some media, including The Rickey Smiley Show, Big Tigger at V-103 and me.

She had plenty to talk about, including her two daughters: Ashley, who just graduated at Spelman College and works at Delta Airlines, and Alexandra, who just entered the school. She took part in a wellness symposium at the school Thursday with Mo'Nique, Star Jones, among others. Spelman is raising money to upgrade its gym facilities.

"I'm a very active Spelman mom," she said today at the Ritz Carlton downtown, where we met to talk. "I've hosted a prospective student event the last couple of years. And I do in-kind contributions."

She's currently in a recurring role on Showtime's raunchy drama, appropriately titled "Shameless," currently in its third season. William A. Macy is the focal point, a drunk who (kind of ) leads a motley crew of children who more or less run the home themselves. Calloway plays the hairdresser mom of one of the main characters, a next-door neighbor named Veronica, played by Shanola Hampton. Calloway was given her first sizable story arc this season as she attempts to play "surrogate" mom for Veronica's baby since Veronica can't conceive.

Calloway has had a steady career (films such as "Love Don't Cost a Thing" and "What's Love Got To Do With It" and guest roles on "CSI," "Cold Case" and "The Closer"), though she has never gotten the huge roles that garner awards. She's guested, too, on two Atlanta-based shows "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and BET's "Let's Stay Together."

"Nobody is more talented than I am. Nobody is a better actress. I'm happy for others. I don't begrudge their success. I don't buy into that. The only thing that separates me from anybody else is opportunity. They may have the awards. Give me three great movies to do a year and I'd get an Oscar nomination, too. It's a numbers game."

Calloway also began a podcast "That's So Vanessa" that airs weekly at 6 p.m. EST Sundays, where she talks pop culture and interviews folks. So far, she said she's had 21,000 listens over six months. And she has taped webisodes in which she and other African-American actors and actresses such as Salli Richardson-Whitfield and Vivica A. Fox gab around dinner. (She's a gourmet cook.) She hopes to turn it into a series.