Monday, May 27, 2013

Tika Sumpter Has It All With New OWN Series


Tika Sumpter has one of the juiciest roles on television. You have to have cable to see it. In fact, you have to have the OWN Network.

That’s because the rising beauty is the lead in Tyler Perry’s first primetime drama on the OWN Network, The Haves and The Have Nots.

On the show, which premieres at 9 p.m. (ET/PT), Tues., May 28, Tika plays Candace, a sexy temptress up to no good.

The hour-long drama follows the complicated dynamic between the rich and powerful Cryer family and the hired help who work in their opulent mansion set in Savannah, GA.  From the outside the Cryer’s are the enviable face of success and wealth, but behind closed doors the family is about as dysfunctional as they come.  John Schneider plays Jim Cryer, the family patriarch. He’s a powerful judge whose double life, including affairs puts his family and political ambitions at risk. His wife, Katheryn, played by Renee Lawless, is the ultimate matriarch portraying a loving wife who will do anything for her family.   They have a son named Wyatt, who is a troubled angry jock.  His sister Amanda (Jacyln Betham) is a struggling law student who tries to live up to her parents’ expectations.

Crystal Fox plays the Cryer’s maid, Hanna Young. She has a dutiful song named Benny (Tyler Lepley) and an estranged daughter named Candace.  Eva Tamargo plays a chef named Celine, Angela Robinson plays a family friend named Veronica, Peter Parros plays David Harrington while Gavin Houston plays Jeffery Harrington.

Tyler Perry has made his mark in theater, television and film.  And he’s done it all his way.

His series of Madea movies has made his a multi-millionaire and one of the most prolific filmmakers currently working.  His films have earned half a billion dollars worldwide.

On May 28, he will make television history when two of his original scripted shows, Love They Neighbor and The Haves and The Have Nots, debuts on his friend, Oprah Winfrey’s OWN Network, marking the first two original series on Winfrey’s network.   The Haves and Have Nots, which debuts Tues., May 28, marks Perry’s first primetime drama.  Love Thy Neighbor is a half-hour comedy set at The Love Train Diner, a family run restaurant that serves up laughs.

The Haves and The Have Nots, shot in Atlanta, is created, written, directed and executive produced by Tyler Perry.  The series is produced for OWN by Tyler Perry Studios.

The show debuts at 9 p.m. ET/PT, Tues., May 28.  


I recently spoke to Tika Sumpter at the OWN offices in Los Angeles to talk about the show.  She’s looking fabulous and fierce in black pants, black top, 5” black heels with a bun sitting neatly atop her head.    

Sumpter is a fresh face whose list of credits is steadily increasing. She’s an actress, model and singer best known for her work as Raina Thorpe on Gossip Girl and Layla Williamson on the Daytime Emmy award-winning soap opera One Life to Live, which garnered her a NAACP Image Award nomination. She was also seen as Jenna on the CBS series The Game. Along with her growing television career, Sumpter is enjoying success on the big screen. She was last seen in Sparkle opposite Whitney Houston and Jordin Sparks, as well as the films My Man Is a Loser with John Stamos and Being Mary Jane opposite Gabrielle Union. Other film credits include What’s Your Number opposite Anna Faris and Chris Evans, Salt with Angelina Jolie and Liev Schreiber, Stomp the Yard 2: Homecoming, Whisper Me a Lullaby and Law and Order: Special Victims Unit. Sumpter will next be seen in the film Ride Along starring opposite Kevin Hart, Ice Cube and Laurence Fishburne. She just wrapped production on Tyler Perry's A Madea Christmas, due out Christmas 2013.

DD: What was the attraction for you to take on a role in The Haves and The Have Nots?

TS: Well, first, I have a job. I’m excited about that. The hardest for Candace was not to judge her. She has so many flaws. I looked at other people’s lives differently ad their decision making processes. Everyone has different life experiences.  It’s fun to play a bad girl. That’s exciting to me.   I did a film with him (Tyler Perry) in December called A Madea’s Christmas. He sent me nine episodes to read. I was in the nail salon and couldn’t stop reading it. I was excited to work with Tyler and Oprah.  

DD: Do you feel a sense of responsibility for the roles you take?

TS: No.  I’m just kidding. I guess you do. Yes. I mean, some people don’t want to take on the role of role model. I have little sisters and some girls and women who walk up to me and don’t always feel they are seen on the screen all the time. In the same breath, people, characters and the choices they make, aren’t always perfect.

DD: Scandal has become a phenomenon.  Your character has an affair. Do you think any of the success of Scandal has anything to do with your character’s traits?

TS: Tyler wrote this plays years ago. He wrote this a while ago. Tyler gave me the script. I hope people love it. She is so far from Olivia Pope. Like, Olivia Pope is on her dream board. This girl comes from such a rough past that it has molded how she makes decisions. Whether you like it or not, it’s who she is.  She may not always have the right words to say. I hope to work with Kerry Washington one day and Shonda Rhimes. I hope people enjoy it and get excited about it. What I love is Kerry busted through the door for other people by leading a show.


DD:  The show feels like a Dallas and Dynasty kind of show. It’s very diverse. Did you watch those shows.

TS:  I didn’t watch Dallas and Dynasty. Dallas is on now.  It reminds me of a Dallas-Revenge type show. We have drama and stakes and slapping. It does remind me of that genre. It’s like a cross between Revenge and Dallas.

DD: She’s trying to be someone she’s not.

TS: She’s not trying to be someone she’s not. She’s just trying to be someone.

DD: When you got into the biz, what did you expect and what did you get?

TS: I was born in Queens, but raised in Long Island. I would go on the LIRR on Fridays to go to open calls and Wilhelmina and get rejected all the time. Some naïve part of my brain said they wanted me. Why wouldn’t they want me? Of course, they wanted this girl with the Janet Jackson braid. I know that I want to be on TV. Didn’t know how I’m going to get there.


DD: People either love or hate Tyler Perry. He has naysayers. How would you convince one of the naysayers that they should watch your show?

TS: Here’s the thing. I mean, I get it. If you’re going to read the positive reviews, you have to read the negative reviews. You can feed a thousand children and somebody will say you didn’t feed a thousand and one.  Everything is not for everybody.  And, I feel like this man has literally come from the bottom and provided people with so many jobs. How many people do you know who owns their own studio. He’s just trying to write stories from where he’s come from. The Madea movies are about fun. Get away from your life and laugh. I can’t convince somebody who already doesn’t like him to like him. It’s like trying to convince someone to come to Jesus. You have to have your own come to Jesus moment.   He gives people a chance.

DD: Who do you see watching this show?

TS:  This is a growing network. This isn’t going to be the only drama. There will be more. I think there will be more women of all ages. I see the women being the driving force. Men will tag along. Women will be the purveyors.  It will be just like the big four networks.

DD: Has it sunk in that you’re a part of history?

TS: You just walk in and go to work and be the best you can be. I’ve never thought of it that way. But we are. We’re the first. I hadn’t really thought about it.

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