Even when she's in New York, taking questions from the sixth-grade class her mother teaches at a Harlem elementary school, statuesque actress Victoria Dillard can't escape The Line.
Apparently a most proper and level-headed young woman, she even sought permission from Mom before uttering it in "Coming to America," her big-screen break.
"That was the one thing that all these kids knew," she says, doing a dead-on imitation of a giggly sixth-grader: "You were that girl in 'Coming to America' that says, 'The royal penis is clean.' Sixth-graders! And I thought, 'How'd you get to see this film?' "
Dillard may finally obliterate memories of The Line with her elegant femme fatale turn in "Deep Cover," the recently released police thriller directed by Bill Duke ("A Rage in Harlem") and starring Larry Fishburne and Jeff Goldblum.
For the part, though, she had to overcome years of training with the Dance Theatre of Harlem. "Bill (Duke) said I walk way too much like a dancer," she recalls, "so I had to put somebody in my head who wasn't classically trained. My shoulders were too square, my neck was too high, my posture was too straight."
In Los Angeles between parts, Dillard passes on her classical ballet training to students at the Lula Washington school on Adams Boulevard. "I just recently got a wonderful surprise," she enthuses. "This new student who's come into my class, and she's deaf and mute. . . . When I demonstrate the combinations, I stand right in front of her. And she's amazing! She just picks it up." Teaching her new student has been so satisfying, Dillard adds, that she's planning classes for other deaf children at their schools as well.