"I hardly have anything to do," remarked Fred Zinnemann [the film's director] during production. "This is a drama with long sustained scenes in a confined set, depending heavily on dialogue. The actors' performances are what makes it come to life." And years later, recalling Ethel Waters' monumental playing, he said: "Ethel was a wonderful, sad woman. Between scenes, she'd sit in her dressing room and listen to her old records. But she was also a very headstrong lady. If she took three steps tot he right and I'd ask her to move tot he left instead, she'd stand perfectly still, point to the sky and say, 'God is my director!'" For all that stubbornness, this is almost certainly the role for which she is best remembered.An anecdote about working with actress Ethel Waters while filming The Member of the Wedding (identified as A Member of the Wedding by Zinnemann), from From: Fred Zinnemann, Fred Zinnemann: An Autobiography: A Life in the Movies, Charles Scribner's Sons: New York, NYC (1992), page 114:
Julie and Brandon were new to the screen but had very little trouble adapting to it. As for Ethel, she was so firmly wedded to her mechanics that she needed enormous persuasion to make a change (for instance, to take only two steps on some occasion when she had taken three steps on stage). Sometimes, when I insisted, she would look heavenward and say, 'God is my director!' (How do you follow that one?) But she was warm, loving and generosity itself. No longer young, she would sit in her dressing room between set-ups, sometimes humming softly to herself, sometimes playing records on her portable phonograph - her own songs, mostly.