Bet You Didn’t Know: Secrets Behind The Making Of “Imitation Of Life”

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How Juanita Got The Part

For the character Annie, they tested everyone, including Pearl Bailey and they may have even asked Mahalia Jackson to star in the film, but she knew she was a singer. And that was the only role she would take for this project.

In another interview, Juanita recalls how she got the role of her career:

“Ross Hunter, he said, when I went out to see him, he said he looked at my face and he said ‘I know this is the one.’ I hadn’t done anything comparable because that was a task, believe me. I lost weight and I was constantly losing the weight and they were constantly putting the weight back on me overnight because I was so nervous. My nerves you know because Ross said to me, ‘If you’re no good Juanita, the picture’s not going to be any good.’ Now that’s a hell of a responsibility to put on somebody…He said to me, ‘I’m sticking my neck out for your Juanita.’ And he did stick his neck out for me.”

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