PHOTO: Tasha Smith.
Tasha Smith is a multifaceted actress whose work brings style and intensity to the subjects she plays on the big and small screens. She currently stars in the television series “Tyler Perry’s For Better Or Worse” on the OWN Network, for which she earned an NAACP Image Award nomination as “Outstanding Actress in a Comedy Series.”
Tasha’s memorable portrayal of Angela in Why Did I Get Married? and Why Did I Get Married, Too? sparked the creation of the spin-off series which is focused around her relationship with her husband, Marcus, played by Michael Jai White. Additionally, she has joined the cast of Fox-TV’s new hip-hop drama series, “Empire.”
Tasha’s other film credits include Daddy’s Little Girls opposite Idris Elba and Gabrielle Union where she delivered a powerful performance which impressed audiences and critics alike. She subsequently went on to co-star in the #1 box office hit Jumping the Broom, starring Paula Patton, Laz Alonso and Angela Bassett.
She also co-starred in the romantic comedy Couples Retreat opposite Vince Vaughn, Jon Favreau, Jason Bateman and Faizon Love, adding to her already impressive box-office resume which includes ATL, The Good Mother, The Whole Ten Yards, and The Longshots. She is well-known for her extensive work on the small screen, too, most notably, her critically-acclaimed portrayal of the drug-addicted Ronnie Boyce on the Emmy Award-winning mini-series "The Corner."
On and off the big and small screen, Tasha has a naturally commanding presence. She takes time to share her inspirational life story through motivational speaking, and to mentor emerging actors through the Tasha Smith Actors Workshop (TSAW). And in her spare time, the Camden, New Jersey native loves to workout at the gym, cook gourmet meals, and entertain friends at her home.
Here, she talks about co-starring as Dr. Marcella Spencer opposite Sharon Leal in Addicted, the screen adaptation of the steamy best-seller by Zane.
Kam Williams: Hi Tasha, thanks for the interview. It’s been too long.
Tasha Smith: Hi Kam. I’m happy to talk with you.
KW: Same here! Maya Angelou once said, “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made me feel.” And whenever I’ve interviewed you, you’ve always made me feel great.
TS: Oh, Kam, thank you! That is awesome.
KW: You’re publicist was a little concerned about what I would talk to you about today. So, I sent her an outline of what areas I hoped to cover. Did you read it?
TS: No, I’ve been working so hard, I didn’t have a chance to look at it. But I trust you, and I adore you. I’m sorry.
KW: No, need to apologize. I know that you’re busy enough as an actress, and then you spend so much time teaching acting workshops, too. [www.tsaw.com]
TS: Yeah, you know I’ve opened up my school in California in a beautiful facility on Ventura Boulevard. I’m always in heaven when I’m doing my classes.
KW: What interested you in Addicted? Had you read the book? How about Fifty Shades of Grey?
TS: I read the book, of course, because I had to in order to see the whole dynamics of Dr. Marcella’s relationship with Zoe [played by Sharon Leal], and I loved Marcella. I loved her voice… I loved her tone… I loved the fact that she was the voice of reason who served as the guide to help Zoe deal with her addiction so that she would not destroy the rest of her life and her family relationships, because that’s exactly what addiction does. Addiction will kill everything in you and around you. I was familiar with Addicted for a long time, even prior to the movie, way before it got the greenlight. And when it finally got the greenlight, I was very happy to be a part of it.
KW: How did you prepare to play your character, Dr. Marcella Spencer?
TS: I tell you, I met with so many therapists… I sat in on sex addiction classes… I went through hypnotherapy because, at first, she was supposed to be a hypnotherapist. I feel like the people I met and the experiences I had in group sessions gave me a good anchor for Marcella.
KW: When I went to see the film, the audience was 90% female? Why do you think that was the case?
TS: I think because it opened up fantasy in terms of women’s sexuality. We’re used to seeing fantasy explored from a male perspective, and the way men might see sex, have sex, want sex and even be addicted to sex. But I don’t think women pursuing that sexuality within themselves is something that’s talked about or experienced as often. I think women found it intriguing because they wanted to see what that look like and felt like and sounded like. I think it was a curiosity with women.
KW: The screen version of Fifty Shades of Grey is coming out soon. Do you see any parallels between that and Addicted?
TS: I do, as far as the type of story it is. I know it’s the same genre, but I’ve never read the book. So, I can’t really comment about it. But I am going to see the film, and I think that it’s cool. Zane has been that urban voice for black people as far as our sexuality and our sensuality, not that she only has an urban following. We may be used to seeing the Zoe’s of other races, but I think it was great to be able to tell the story of this beautiful black woman and her family.
KW: I remember meeting Zane at a party and being surprised that she seemed so straitlaced and perfectly normal, and not a nymphomaniac like one of her protagonists.
TS: Yes, she looks like she could work at the Post Office. She’s just as conservative, but with a mind that could blow your mind.
KW: What would you say is the movie’s message?
TS: That if you don’t deal with addiction, it could destroy your life. It also addresses the inspiration of restoration in a relationship.
KW: I see that you have a picture called Polaris coming out this year. What type of character do you play there?
TS: I play Sophie, who’s that All-American best friend. It was more of a cameo role, but it was still a wonderful opportunity to work with an amazing, first-time director [Soudabeh Moradian], at least as far as features, who comes from the documentary film world. It was also great to have a chance to work with my best friend, Elisabeth Rohm.
KW: What other upcoming projects do you have, Tasha?
TS: I have two new TV shows, Power and Empire. On Empire, which just premiered in January, I play Carol, who’s Cookie Lyons’ [played by Taraji P. Henson] sister. It’s fun. It’s a great show.
KW: Tell me a little about Power.
TS: That doesn’t come on until the summer. It’s with Omari Hardwick, Naturi Naughton and Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson. You’re gonna love it!
KW: The Uduak Oduok question: Who is your favorite clothes designer?
TS: My favorite clothes designer? It’s a shame that I don’t have a favorite right now. I gotta tell you, Kam. I am just discovering my fashion side. I have never felt anchored when it comes to fashion. I’ve always had to depend on a stylist helping me to figure it out. But over, maybe, the last four or five months, I have literally been getting back to myself and to what I really love as far as fashion is concerned. So, I can’t really answer that question, although I do have a couple of favorite shoe designers I have a little bit of an addiction to: Giuseppe [Zanotti] and Christian Louboutin. For some reason, I’m in love with their shoes... [Pauses] Wait, I just thought of a designer that I’m actually feelin’ who’s really fun and exciting for me… Stella McCartney… I’m feelin’ her. I have some pieces of hers that make me go look for more of her pieces.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
TS: [Breathes deeply… exhales… clears her throat] That’s a very good question. Kam, I gotta tell you, you always ask me wonderfully probing questions and, for some reason, I always want to be extremely honest with you.
KW: I’ve always appreciated that.
TS: I’ll say this: the last three years of my life have been very painful and somewhat abusive, mentally.
KW: Gee, I’m so sorry to hear that.
TS: And I always found myself trying to cover the mental anguish and the torment and the abuse that I was dealing with. That made me always question my beauty, my intelligence, and a lot of other things about myself.
KW: That is so sad! I had no idea.
TS: I felt like I was literally losing myself as being the joyful, spiritual, passionate, exciting woman that I naturally had been. I remember working on a show, and feeling so insecure about whether I looked attractive enough to do a love scene. It was weird because I couldn’t understand why I wasn’t feeling beautiful, even though I knew I was. And my friends were like, “You know why!” I remember that I kept asking the person I was working with whether I looked okay. He was kind enough to take a photo of me on the monitor. When he took the photo, he asked the director to wait. Then he came to me and said, “This is how you look.” I don’t think even he knew how that moment impacted me. My reaction was, “Wow! I look like that?” You hear about actresses experiencing their insecurities, and how we always want to feel pretty enough, good enough, or this or that enough. But this was such a revelation for me, because I had been spending time in the mirror questioning my beauty. When he showed me that snapshot, I finally really appreciated myself again. There was this revelation in one second that really blessed me, big time. So, now when I look at myself in the mirror, I see this beautiful woman that’s getting back to her old self.
KW: That’s terrific! Sherry Gillam would like to know what makes you smile on the inside?
TS: Right now, my excitement about my life and my future makes me happy, because I am a dreamer, and I always dream, no matter how many obstacles are in my way. My dreams, my desires, and my goals make me smile.
KW: Finally, what’s in your wallet?
TS: [Howl’s with laughter] What’s in my wallet? A note to myself.
KW: Thanks again, Tasha. I really appreciate your being so open and forthcoming with me, as usual.
TS: Thank you, Kam, and have a great day, okay?