On Friday a new generation of moviegoers will get to experience the movie Sparkle on the big screen. Irene Cara (Sparkle), Lonette McKee (Sista) and Philip Michael Thomas (Stix) starred in the original that was released in 1976. The 2012 version of the film has an impressive cast which includes Jordin Sparks (Sparkle), the late Whitney Houston (Emma) and gospel singer and actress Tamela Mann.
Tamela Mann has appeared in several Tyler Perry films including Madea Goes To Jail and Madea’s Big Happy Family. During it’s four season run, she assumed the role of Cora Simmons in Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns on TBS.
Tamela’s new album “Best Days” is available on August 14th and on August 17th we’ll see her in Sparkle, the most talked about film of the summer.
DailyVenusDiva.com sat down with Mrs. Mann to discuss everything from her role in Sparkle to her new reality cooking show.
The last time we spoke you had just secured the role of Cora Simmons on the television show, Meet The Browns. What projects have you worked on since then?
Since Meet The Browns, I’ve done a couple of movies. I did Madea’s Big Happy Family. The new project that I’m working on is my album, Tamela Mann’s “Best Days” and also a new cooking show that David and I are working on, we taped 10 shows. It’s called, Hanging With The Mann’s and also the new movie that’s coming out August 17th, Sparkle. Since the last time we’ve talked I’ve been moving around a lot.
How does Hanging With The Mann’s differ from your acting roles?
It’s a lot different. [On the cooking show] It’s mainly just us in the kitchen and we have about 20 people working with us vs. 60 people working with us when we’re on set. But it was really different because of course you’re dealing with food and we were doing adventures so it’s just not cooking. We’re doing adventures and we base cooking on our adventures. For instance we went to a ranch in Austin, TX so David came home and cooked his homemade Chili and I made corn cakes and an apple crisp so we cooked things that they would’ve cooked on the ranch. Then we went to the Bahamas and we cooked all Bahamian food while we were there. So it’s a lot different and it doesn’t take as much time as it does when you’re doing a regular sitcom.
Which network will the show be on and when is it going to air?
Actually, we’re shopping the show now and we have a couple of offers and we’re looking to tell you that real soon. I’ll be calling you back so I can do another interview.
I want to shift gears for a moment and talk about body image. How has being a plus size woman affected the way that you view entertainment industry?
At first it was kind of rough because people will put you in a box and it’s like you can be heard but not seen but I didn’t allow it to bring me down so I just kept working and just let my gift work for me. People like Kelly Price and Missy Elliott were pioneers for me and opened the doors up for us so that now we’re accepted. We’re very talented women but for some reason the industry don’t respect Full Figured women but we are here and we are here to stay.
Exactly! Tell me about your character in Sparkle?
My character was Sarah Waters and I played Whitney Houston’s best friend. All of my scene’s were with her and it was very exciting. At first I was a little nervous because I had met her as a group when I was with Kirk Franklin and the Family so it wasn’t one-on-one. When I saw her [this time] I didn’t expect her to know who I was and she was like, “I know who you are and I know what you do.” She even stood up for me when I met Jordin Sparks. I told Jordin that I sang as well and pointing to me Whitney told Jordin, “this is THE singer here.” That’s what Whitney said about me. I’m looking at her like, “What!”
It was a wonderful experience working with her and working with Jordin Sparks. The entire cast was wonderful. I’m really excited to see the movie and the parts that I haven’t seen.
You also have an album coming out on August 14th as well. Tell me about that album and what we can expect to hear?
You can expect some totally different elements because I did a lot of things in different keys, I have some urban elements and hymns on there. I have some upbeat songs and some C.O.G.I.C. like beats on there. It really is a rollercoaster ride. The Praise & Worship is great! I even have something a little popish.
I really stretched myself on this project. I did a little whaling but it wasn’t a lot of whaling. Everyone knows that I can just holler but I didn’t do all of that.
The single, “Take Me To The King” has done well. I’m shocked and excited at the same time but I’m really excited about the testimonials that I’ve been getting as a result of the song about it being encouraging to so many people. On the album, you can look for hope, to be encouraged and messages of holding on.
It sounds amazing. Did you recently celebrate a wedding anniversary?
That is wrong. My anniversary is actually April 24th. My sister-in-law called me and was talking about “Happy Birthday” LOL! I don’t know who put that out there but our anniversary is April 24th and we got some feedback on that but it was funny to us too. But, thank you to everyone who wished us a Happy Anniversary. Whoever put that out there were off.
I’m happy we got a chance to clear that rumor up. How do you and your husband sustain a healthy and loving relationship despite working in such a demanding field?
We make home our home and we are in love with each other. We hold each other accountable when one of us are wrong and when something is out of line, we correct each other. We love the Lord and we respect each other. He is my best friend and you tell your best friend everything. We don’t hold any secrets. We’ve been married 24 years without any separations and it’s really been a blessing that I have the package that I have in my man, my husband, my boyfriend, my baby daddy. He is all of those things and I’m just really happy because we’re in love. I’m in love with him just as much now as I was when I first fell in love with him 25 years ago.
That’s beautiful. So many of our readers are inspired by you, admire you and appreciate the messages you convey through your acting and singing. Which artists do you look to for inspiration?
I look to everyone for inspiration. I don’t have a certain artist that I follow. Even in the Gospel music industry I just listen to everybody. I had Paster Winans at the house a few months ago and during lunch we were listening to the Sirius XM Praise station. As I was singing he said, “Lord! you’re singing everybody’s song.” I like all types of music. I listen to country music and gospel. I don’t listen to a lot of R&B music. I really like Bette Midler and Celine Dion. I love Dorinda Clark-Cole, Sheri Moffet-Jones and Isaac Carree. Jessica Reedy is one of my favorite new artists. I like a lot of Christian Contemporary artists. I just take a little bit from everybody so I can make myself better.