The Washington Post

Hollywood beats Obama to the punch in promoting woman to head Secret Service

With President Obama’s decision Tuesday to appoint Julia Pierson as the first female head of the Secret Service, we have to break it to the White House: Angela Bassett beat her to it.

OHF_12726.NEF Actors Angela Bassett, left, and Morgan Freeman. (Paul Morigi/Wire Image)

Bassett, who has played luminaries such as Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do with It,” took on the role as first-ever female Secret Service director in “Olympus Has Fallen,” a thriller that opened last Friday. The movie, directed by Antoine Fuqua, features the actress as Lynne Jacobs, “the steely, strict and tough director of the Secret Service.” She heads the team trying to save the president after terrorists take over the White House, along with the help of a disgraced Secret Service agent.

In a phone interview, Bassett described the coincidence as a case of “life imitating art."

"I think it’s just amazing," she said. "We made this movie over a year ago. We just thought we were getting some things right.”

Several members of the cast, including Bassett, came to screen the film on March 12 at the AMC Loews Georgetown in Washington. When asked whether the movie might have inspired Obama to choose Pierson, Bassett replied, “I don’t know if he’s seen it.”

Asked how she worked on creating a character when no role model existed for a female Secret Service agent, the actress replied: “In 2013 we know it’s not out of the realm of possibility that [it could happen]. Women are skillful, committed and possess the spirit of integrity and excellence. It’s those attributes you focus on, rather than the fact that this position has only been held by a man.”

Juliet Eilperin is The Washington Post's White House bureau chief, covering domestic and foreign policy as well as the culture of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. She is the author of two books—one on sharks, and another on Congress, not to be confused with each other—and has worked for the Post since 1998.



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Sean Sullivan · March 27, 2013

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