When George Clooney’s new film, Suburbicon opened in theaters last Friday, some Proviso Township residents may have seen a familiar face.
Karimah Westbrook, who attended Proviso East High School, plays the mother in the first black family to integrate a fictional suburb called Suburbicon. The film is based on the true story of Daisy Meyers, who moved her family into Levittown, Pennsylvania in 1957.
Levittown, an all-white suburb, was built by William J. Levitt, who is widely considered to be the father of the modern American suburb.
During an interview with Bill Zwecker of the Chicago Sun-Times, Westbrook said that she prepared for the role by reading Meyers’ memoir, Sticks and Stones.
“I learned so much from reading her book,” said Westbrook, who has also appeared in the films Badassss and Save the Last Dance.
Westbrook told Zwecker that she got her start in acting at Proviso East and by “appearing in community theater productions and at the Circle Theater in Forest Park.”
Clooney told The Hollywood Reporter that northerners “love to think they had nothing to do with [racism]”
“They love to wash their hands and say, ‘Actually, we were the liberals. We were against slavery and pro-civil rights.’ And the truth of the matter was much more complicated. There were a lot of problems, particularly in places like Levittown.”
“I can’t imagine how awful that had to be,” Westbrook told Zwecker of Meyers’ struggles, “living through all that, while trying to support your family and doing all the things a normal family needs to do to survive.”
— Michael Romain