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Joey Lauren Adams: actress 

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Joey Lauren Adams: Actress, filmmaker

North Little Rock

When she was 19, Joey Lauren Adams says, couldn’t wait to leave Arkansas. She told friends she was heading to Hollywood and sure enough, she did.

Now twice that age, she’s had success as an actress in such movies as “Chasing Amy” and 2006’s “The Break-Up” and as director of “Come Early Morning,” filmed here and set to open Thursday, Dec. 14, at the Market Street Cinema.

Adams now longs for the land where she grew up.

“When you see [“Come Early Morning”], I romanticize about the South a bit because I was gone for 19 years … When I was 19 I hated it, but I think you have to get away, because looking back now and having some distance from it, it was the thing that I missed most. What brought me back was [that] the connections were so deep, between the family and the region.” She recently returned to the South, moving to Oxford, Miss.

“I met so many of my friends in cribs in church, we always knew each other, so I don’t remember specifically meeting them,” Adams said. “Those ties are so strong. They know your family, or it’s a good chance they will. It’s such a Southern thing. I think I missed that being away. I had to learn to hate the place to leave, and once I was gone I realized how much I actually loved it.”

Adams grew up in the Overbrook neighborhood in North Little Rock. Much of her family still lives there. Her grandmothers were within walking distance and that made her childhood special, a relationship mirrored by the lead character in her new movie.

Her father built the family’s house on Beresford Court.

“The woman who bought the house found one of my diaries I had written when I was 15, and my high school yearbooks, and my sister’s stuff. She found it all in the attic and tracked me down. She’s really kept the house like it was. It was a beautiful house, and my dad filled it with antiques. Every Sunday, we’d go to Church’s Chicken or Long John Silver’s for lunch and then go to look for antiques in Hot Springs.”

Adams always came home for Christmas.

“I think about having children and it’s really hard for me to think about doing it because I could never provide for them what I had growing up with my family around,” she said. “I remember Momma Doll, how she would make popcorn balls and oatmeal. You can do things with your grandmother that you don’t do around your parents. Momma Doll is my dad’s mom. Granny Nana was my mom’s mom, and she was walking distance from my house. My great-grandmother babysat me.”

She enjoys the family closeness she’s experiencing again.

“I’m glad to be back,” she said. “You can go home again, I really do believe that.”

— Jim Harris

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