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There was a time when I just felt like a superwoman. I was like, ďI got Jesus! I ainít afraid!Ē

But, the truth is, I want to do things right, and sometimes I am afraid

 

 

Tasha Smith: Why Did I Get Married 

Interview with Kam Williams

 

Tasha Smith is a larger than life actress who brings an endearing combination of chemistry, raw intensity, vulnerability, and sheer sensuality to every character she portrays on the big screen. In other words, sheís a consummate thespian who is just loved by the camera. And her memorable performances in two Tyler Perry pictures last year, Why Did I Get Married and Daddyís Little Girls, led this critic to name her the best African-American actress of 2007 in my annual film Blacktrospective.

Previously, the beguiling beauty has played a wide range of roles in such feature films as ATL, The Good Mother and The Whole Ten Yards. Tasha is also well-known for her critically-acclaimed portrayal of the drug-addicted Ronnie Boyce in HBOís Emmy Award-winning mini-series, The Corner, directed by Charles S. Dutton.

She has guest starred on such popular television shows as Nip/Tuck, Americaís Next Top Model, Girlfriends, Without a Trace, and Strong Medicine, among others. Plus, sheís served as the executive producer and host of her own talk show for the Oxygen Network, Tasha Vision, guest hosted, Later with Greg Kinnear, and recently appeared as a field correspondent on The Tyra Banks Show.

Away from the set, she divides her time between sharing her inspirational life story as a motivational speaker and mentoring aspiring actors at the Tasha Smith Actors Workshop in Los Angeles.  See MySpaceTV

Here, Tasha talks from the heart about both her career and her fears.

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KW: Hey, Tasha, thanks for the time.

TS: Kam, are you kidding me? I am so honored and excited to talk to you. How are you doing?

KW: No, Iím honored to be speaking with you. In my opinion, you were the best actress last year, hands down. Iím just surprised your work wasnít widely acknowledged during awards season. But I guess, like the way it was for Philip Seymour Hoffman and some other great actors and actresses, it takes awhile to get recognized. After all, Christian Bale still has never been nominated for an Oscar.

TS: Yeah, I understand that. I really do. I just thank you for all your wonderful comments.

KW: Those were simply my honest appraisal of your performances. What did you rely upon to create the characters, Angela and Jennifer, that you played in those Tyler Perry movies?

TS: Well, sometimes other actors do or donít agree with my process in terms of the approach that I use and teach to my students. [Chuckles] But I feel that once you look at and discover what a characterís need is within a script, every character is already in us based on their need, whether that need be for power, love, acceptance, forgiveness or something else. You follow me? So, after I discover that for the character within the script, then I find things within myself that I can activate that could help me to tell the story of the character.

KW:  Do you research a character, too, or is it all an internal process?

TS: I did do research for Daddyís Little Girls, because of Jenniferís belief system in terms of selling drugs. So I spoke to a bunch of different drug dealers who really didnít want to reform. They didnít want to change. I was just trying to understand the mentality. We all have a psychological reason why we have adopted the belief systems which determine our perspectives and directions in life, and our actions. I try to understand that mental part of the character in order to figure out how I might relate it to myself and to similar people Iíve seen and experienced. I end up with layers of things, but overall, and I donít know how people will feel about this statement, overall, I think that there is a part of us in every character we play, a desperate part of all of us that we could utilize. Not that, if someone plays a murderer, thereís a murderer within that person, but thereís a seed to get power back within that person.

KW:  That makes me think of Javier Bardemís frightening portrayal of the killer in No Country for Old Men. That was quite a despicable character.

TS: Yes, but, as an actor, you have to stay true to the character. We can never judge our characters. All we can discover is why they so badly need to do what theyíre doing. And everyone has a reason why, even a murderer. For example, when I did The Corner, everyone may not necessarily be a drug addict, but everyone has a vice thatís in the life of a drug. You follow me?

KW:  Yep.

TS: Everyone has something that they desperately need that makes them feel good, that they donít want anything to get in the way of. Whether itís a manís golf game . . . whether itís a womanís cooking . . .  I have a friend who has to clean. Sheís addicted to cleaning. Thatís her drug. When she becomes upset and frustrated that sheís not getting enough sex from her husband, she has to clean. So, everyone has their addiction. 

KW:  I think you also did an excellent job as Angela in Why Did I Get Married.

TS: Thank you. I tell you that role was interesting for me in that it helped me get freedom, because I was going through my own divorce at the time, and I think that we can live vicariously through our characters. So the stuff that I might not have been able to say or do in real life, I could live all that as Angela. And I joke with women a lot, because they come up to me and say, ďI love the way you spoke up and got him. My intention was for her to be every black womanís hero. I wanted her to be that woman who would put every ho in check. You know how weíve all had that kind of woman come into our lives? Well, we needed a spokesperson, and I wanted Angela to be that for us.       

KW:  What I liked about your treatment of Angela was the richness you brought to the character. She wasnít merely the stereotypical, sassy, superficial, one-dimensional sister we usually see on the screen.  

TS: You know what was the best thing to me about Angela? That she got a chance to say everything she needed to say, because sometimes, as women, we donít get a chance to do that. She got a chance to say everything she needed to say, and to allow herself to be frustrated, angry and hurt, but she still was able to get her man back. That was a blessing. I love that I was able to do that, because personally, for myself, divorce was really sad. I felt bad to have to get divorced. I wasnít proud of that. But, in that role, I got a chance to see what it feels like to win. It was great to see that these two could have all their differences, and all the drama . . . Hello! Yet, then they had the restoration. It was wonderful! I was so happy about that, I couldnít tell you.  

KW:  I see that youíre playing another character named Angela in Something Like a Business, an ensemble comedy with Keith David, Kym Whitley, David Alan Grier, Clifton Powell, Kevin Hart and a bunch of other folks.

TS: You know what? Something Like a Business, Iím going to tell you Kam, was my ďfunĒ movie. That was kind of like me going to the amusement park with a bunch of my friends. It is a funny, silly comedy. I play a completely different character. Sheís a broke escort who moves from New Orleans to Washington, DC. Her escort company doesnít have any money, so theyíre trying to figure out ways to make some money. Itís a little spoofy and very different, but I think itís entertaining and people will get a good laugh.

KW:  What are you filming now?

TS: Comeback, with Ice Cube. Itís a wonderful movie. Keke Palmer plays my daughter. This film is absolutely fantastic. Itís such an uplifting story. And Iím enjoying it so much because I donít have any children, and everything is about my daughter. I just love it because I want to have children one day. So I enjoy playing this woman Claire whoís trying to help make her daughterís dream come true. Itís beautiful. I think youíll get a kick out of it.  

KW:  Youíre originally from Camden, right?

TS: Born and raised.

KW:  When did you leave New Jersey?

TS: I moved out of Camden when I was 18, turning 19.

KW:  Do you still go back?

TS: We went back and got the key to the city. I did a little tour there and spoke at the high schools and at the performing arts schools, and took a bunch of friends from the Ďhood to the opening day of Why Did I Get Married

KW:  I know you have an identical twin, Sidra. Usually, one twin has a more dominant personality. Let me guess, itís you in this case. 

TS: Yeah, probably me. [Laughs] But sheís strong, too. Iím probably more vocal.

KW:  Is she an actress, too?

TS: No, she works behind the scenes. Sheís a terrific producer/director/writer. She doesnít want to have anything to do with acting.

KW:  Is she producing anything with you in mind?

TS: Yeah, we have a few projects weíre working on right now. Sheís actually producing one of E. Lynn Harrisí books, Not a Day Goes By. Weíre also working on an amazing film of hers called A Luv Tale, based on a short that she wrote and directed about a lesbian relationship between an older woman and a younger woman, and how it affects everyone around them. And we got another fun script called Whoís Got C-Dogís Money.

KW:  Jimmy Bayan, Realtor to the Stars, wants to know where in L.A. you live?

TS: I live in Sherman Oaks.

KW:  The Columbus Short question, would you describe yourself as happy?

TS: Wow, well how about this: Not only am I happy, but Iím excited. Iím so excited Kam, I canít even tell you.

KW:  Is there a question that interviewers never ask that you wish one would ask?

TS: Yes, ďAre you ever afraid?Ē

KW:  Okay, are you ever afraid?

TS: Yeah. I talk about this a lot to my students. I remember how I had to confront the fact that I had fears in my life. There was a time when I just felt like a superwoman. I was like, ďI got Jesus! I ainít afraid!Ē But, the truth is, I want to do things right, and sometimes I am afraid that Iím not good enough, or that Iím not going to handle something right. And sometimes Iím afraid and asking, ďAm I going to get married again? Am I going to have children?Ē You follow what Iím saying?  

KW:  Yep.

TS: Itís not that I walk around with . . . gripped by fear, but when you sit with yourself and look in your heart, you sometimes ask yourself, ďWow, what were you worried about?Ē The root of worry is fear. If Iím ever stressed out, whatís the root of stress? Fear! Do you follow what Iím saying? If I ever have a little anxiety, whatís the root of that? Fear! You feel me?

KW:  Yep.

TS: So I think sometimes weíre not transparent enough. We in this entertainment industry try to act like weíre so super powerful. Weíre not being honest, because weíre human, and in our humanity thereís a little fear.

KW:  I recently reviewed a new book by Terrie Williams called Black Pain which says that in African-American culture thereís pressure on the brothers to adopt a macho swagger and on the sisters to be supportive superwomen who often deny their own needs. She says black people need to let down their defenses and to show some vulnerability. 

TS: I agree with that.

KW:  Speaking of books, bookworm Troy Johnson wants to know what was the last book you read?

TS: Well, actually, one that Iím still reading is called Developing the Leader within You by John C. Maxwell. I love a lot of self-help books, and this one has been wonderful. The one I read before this was Becoming a Person of Influence, also by John C. Maxwell. I feel that with these opportunities I have, I want to not just be a celebrity, but to be an influence. Iíd like to help empower and encourage other people to pursue their purpose, whether itís through me telling the truth of my life, like what I just shared with you about fears, or just being open and transparent and encouraging and compassionate towards humanity in general. 

KW:  Just the other day, I asked Sean Combs what book he read last, and he impressed me when he said it was Good to Great by Jim Collins. Thatís a powerful self-help book that Iíve read and reviewed and highly recommend.

TS: Well, Iíll have to pick that book up.

KW:  And Iíll check out yours. Now, I see that you were Gayle in ATL. Remind me which character was that? 

TS: Gayle was the mother to the twins, like my own mother in real-life.

KW: I remember now, the girls who were always on skates. Yeah, thatís funny, since youíre a twin.

TS: They were always in trouble, and I had to snatch them out of the club.  

KW:  I didnít really know you when I saw ATL. Iím going to go back and check it out again and focus on your performance. I bet you stole all your scenes.   

TS: [Giggles] It was fun. I tell you, afterwards, everybody kept yelling at me, ďHey, Mama, whereís the twins at?Ē [Laughs]

KW: Tell me a little about your school. How can aspiring actors enroll to take a class with you?

TS: Itís called Tasha Smith Actors Workshop. They can check out the website at http://www.tsaw.com/. Itís been going on for almost six years now. Itís been a blessing for our community, thatís all I have to say, because Iíve seen so many actors with the dream, young people who havenít had a chance to cultivate their gift. And now I see them on TV shows, and with agents, and really moving in their dream. And thatís awesome.  

KW:  Whereís it located?

TS: In Los Angeles. We have about ninety people taking three classes a week. Itís wonderful. Youíll have to visit one day when you come out.

KW: Absolutely. And do you actually teach there?

TS: We have three teachers. If Iím not working on a set, Iím there every Monday and Tuesday. Iím very dedicated to that school. Youíll never catch me at home on a Monday night. I will be at that class.

KW:  Tasha, thanks so much for the time and for being so forthcoming. And obviously, Iím anticipating even bigger things from you in the coming years.

TS: Well, I thank you. My prayer is that more opportunities will come and that I will continue to make people like you proud. You enjoy your day.

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AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 Ė Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

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Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what's in your heart than what's in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America's shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy can make you money, but money can't make you happy."

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The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarcerationóbut her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.óPublishers Weekly

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The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Boisí Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

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Ancient African Nations

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The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

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The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

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posted 2 March 2008

 

 

 

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