Tribeca Film Festival is well underway, having got started on April 17th. The event runs through to April 28th and sees a host of established stars mix with the more independent end of the film industry. It was one of the more established heads taking pride of place though when Whoopi Goldberg took part in a Q+A ahead of the premiere of her latest film, I Got Somethin’ To Tell You.

The film focuses on the late Moms Mabley who was a stand-up comedian during a time of great oppression for not just black Americans but also women. A true pioneer on the circuit, she ushered in the Chitlin’ circuit of African-American vaudeville and was at her peak in the 1920’s and 30’s – a time when black Americans were still very much considered second class citizens in the US. Admitting she takes great influence from Mabley, Goldberg told the New York Times, “I was first introduced to her work as a kid. I knew there were records in the house that you weren’t supposed to touch. And then she would be on Ed Sullivan, and my mom would let us watch. And somehow she flew into my mouth. I don’t know how it worked, but she’s in there.”

Goldberg used Kickstarter to fund the project, but was more than happy to in order to represent such an influential character. “The storytelling,” Goldberg said when asked what Mabley’s greatest skill was. “It’s the same thing with Richard Pryor. It’s the stories. I don’t have to be bam, bam, bam, funny when I’m working. I can tell stories and there’s some funny IN them. But they move around. But the two of them in particular gave me that freedom.”

Whoopi Goldberg

Whoopi Goldberg's at Tribeca for her new film 'I Got Somethin' To Tell You'