Tika Sumpter

Tika Sumpter

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way you engage with your own sisters?

TS: Yes. I’m actually the only one of the three of us who actually has sisters. So I know what that relationship is like. And it’s funny because it all fell into place. We spent such a saturated amount of time on set that at times we love each other and at times we’re like ugh, I want to be by myself. There were times when we were not in the mood. But at the end of the day, all of that you could see it on screen. And that’s what was necessary. It was very necessary, it was organic. But we’re like one big happy family.

EBONY: Few people know that you’re a vocalist who can actually sing. Did you grow up singing?

TS: I did, I did. My mom was an opera singer and she gave up her career to raise a family. But she also taught my sisters how to sing. My mom didn’t know I could sing until I was maybe 16 when she saw me have a lead part in the choir. And then I was signed to a record deal when I was younger and also on "One Life to Live" we did a few musical acts on the show. They asked me to sing and perform, and I did. And also I did this “Broadway Cares” charity event on Broadway. I’ve performed many times but not many people know. So I guess this is the great coming out party.

EBONY: Do you plan to star in more musical roles?

TS: I am definitely pursuing music now. Some opportunities have presented themselves so I’m definitely going to take advantage of every opportunity. Nowadays things are wide open. It used to be that film stars didn’t want to do TV and actors weren’t singing and singers weren’t acting.  Everybody’s kind of crossing over to whatever they want to do. So I feel like if you have it use it. If God’s given you this talent then use it.

EBONY: What do you want people to take away from the movie?

TS: I hope that people laugh, they cry. I just want them to feel something. I think the best part in going to the movies is you feel something and you relate whether it’s to family struggles or dimming your light for someone. I would say to never dim your light and to really, truly follow your dreams. I know it’s cliché to say when you do something you love you never work a day in your life. But it is true: When you do something you love, life gets to be a little bit easier and enjoyable. So I just want people to follow their dreams. Whether they relate to Dee or they related to Sparkle or whether they related to Sister, it’s definitely a cautionary tale. It’s definitely a tale of not just relying on your looks and having hollow talent. It’s really relying on something you can offer the world. It’s definitely a cautionary tale mixed with love and laughs and not dimming your light for others.

EBONY: What is your favorite on-set memory of Whitney Houston?

TS: Just hearing her laugh. She had one of those hearty laughs like me. A lot of people say I laugh really loud. Well Whitney also laughs loud and her smile is just magnetic. And a star is a star. Highs, lows –whatever you go through – a star is a star. When she walked through the door she just had this magnetic energy and you just want to be around her. And she was so funny. She was ridiculously funny. When the cameras turned on she was professional and ready to go. But when the cameras were off man … there were a couple of times when the director was like, ‘Tika! Whitney!’ in a sweet way but we were definitely giggling a lot. She definitely had a sense of humor. It’s something that I’m going to be able to tell my grandkids and my future children about. It’s an experience that I have on tape and it’s an experience that will never be washed away. Ever.

Aisha I. Jefferson is a writer and multimedia journalist who splits her time between Chicago and Atlanta. You can follow her on Twitter or visit her at aishaiman.com.