[THE SPIRITUAL LIFE]<br />
Tamela Mann Talks Tyler Perry and âTake Me to the Kingâ<br />

Tamela Mann

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to pump and prod [my friends] to do what’s right. But I reach out to [my siblings] and I love them and sometimes I still wonder why they choose to do the things that they do, but we all have free mind and will and all I can do is be an encouragement and let my nieces and nephews know that we can come from nothing and still make something out of ourselves.

EBONY: There has been a lot of criticism of Tyler Perry over the years, for the plays, movies and T.V. shows he writes, directs and produces and there have been concerns that he is perpetuating negative images of Black women and the community in those mediums. As someone who has been in many of those productions, how do you deal with that criticism? Do the positive people you surround yourself with shield you from that?

TM: I really don’t let that bother me. You’re always going to have naysayers. There are going to people who agree with you but there’s always going to be someone who don’t agree with everything you do or don’t like how I sing or how I act or what have you, but I feel like it’s a big enough pie that everybody can have a piece. So I really don’t dwell on those type of people. It’s like you said, I stick with the people who are thinking positive. People are going to say what they’re going to say but we’re moving on. We’re pressing on. And hey, hopefully [the naysayers are] going to catch on. Because they'll keep wondering, “Hey, how does she keep coming up?” It ain't me. It’s the God in me. 

EBONY: Do you find any of those kinds of criticisms or concerns to be constructive?

TM: It’s not worth the time and effort [to worry about it]. Some people are not going to like everything that we do. The things that I can’t change, I don’t worry about them. And I can’t dwell on that because I feel like my time is short. I’m not going to die of a heart attack worrying about what other people are saying and being insecure because of what they’re saying because there's somebody that’s going to like it. And [Tyler Perry's productions come] from a real place. I think the reason why [his productions have] blown up is because it’s reality. A lot of things that’s said [in his films] is what a lot of us are dealing with. So that’s why we have great following. And anyway, that’s what makes a good battery: you’ve got positive and negative.

EBONY: You're a Grammy-nominated singer, you've won all sorts of awards and seen great success as an actress. What do you hope your legacy will be?

TM: That I lived a great life. I want my kids and grandkids and other young people to see you can reach those goals that you’re trying to reach. 

Catch Tamela Mann live in concert at Xavier University Convocation Center in New Orleans July 13 at 7:00 p.m.

Brooke Obie writes the column "The Spiritual Life" on EBONY.com and the Christian blog DistrictDiva.com. Follow her on Twitter @BrookeObie.