|Photo Credit: Derrick Blanks|
I had a chance to do a phone interview with the beautifully, talented Terri J. Vaughn. She brought us laughs on The Steve Harvey Show as Cedric the Entertainer's loud mouthed, girlfriend and Regina's assistant, Lovita Alizay Jenkins Robinson. We've seen her inspiring us on the big screen in Friday and Daddy's Little Girls and on television series such as Meet the Browns, Girlfriends and All of Us. Her charm and wit has amazed us and she's one of the few gems that shines even off screen. As founder of Take Wings Foundation, a non-profit for young girls in the Bay area, Terri J. has a lot to say and she's making an impact beyond words on a script.
- Have you found that being in the entertainment industry has made it hard to stand apart from the crowd?
· I only know how to be myself. I’m only comfortable being myself and it’s important to surround yourself with people that know you and really love you and are like-minded. People get caught up when they try to fit in or try to chase false relationships. That’s never been my journey. I'm me.
- Tell us about what’s upcoming for you and your production company, Nina Holiday Entertainment.
· Just wrapped a film two weeks ago called A Cross to Bear shot in Atlanta. It premieres on GMC in February 2012.I also have a few television series I am trying to develop. Shot three films this summer, one of which I had a lead role and it was very rewarding.
- How have you matured in your career since your days on the Steve Harvey show?
· The normal growth pattern, becoming more comfortable in my skin. Knowing what I want and knowing what I don’t want. Being grounded in God and dedicated in my daily time with God has helped me grow. It’s also important to have friends that care about you and call you on your stuff.
- What advice would you give to someone who is an aspiring actress/actor or even writer?
· Study the craft, don't just jump in, train for it, read a script everyday, surround yourself with mentors. When I moved to LA, I kept myself in workshops. It was my daily grind honing the craft of acting. When I couldn't afford a class, I rented movies all the time. I just wanted to learn. Keep learning whatever it is you want to get into. I still take classes and read books. It's a never ending journey with anything artistic.
- Tell us about The Green Room.
· Somebody came to me while I was teaching class here in Atlanta, somebody asked me where they could buy some of the books I was talking about. I wanted to help up and coming artist be equipped with great material in Atlanta. I went to my business manager and a business Plan was created. It’s an atmosphere where artists can really feel appreciated. Acting classes are taught by me, Jasmine Guy, Tommy Ford and Kim Fields.
- Being from the Bay area, what changes have you seen with the young girls through your Take Wings foundation?
· They still have the same issues that I had growing up. They grow up in at-risk situations. We are all the same, at the core we all want to know that somebody cares and loves us and believes in us. No matter what they’ve done there is always a new day. Hope is never dead. As long as you have hope, there’s always a chance. We have workshops throughout the year. We also have an overnight trip every year with the seniors.
- And to break the stereotype that most celebrities only fund the non-profits they founded...
I travel back and forth to the Bay area all the time. I never lose sight that the girls expect me to show up. God put me in this business to be a voice and light for these young girls. I have to show up.
- How is juggling a family in Hollywood?
· I adore my family. When it’s time for my family that’s it. Everything else has to shut down as much as possible. I can’t be great at all things at all times. I can be great at one thing at a time. I focus on what’s in front of me. I go 100% on set, with my kids and my husband. You have to have a system.
- What is your view on the negative images of black women in today’s media? Reality shows, etc.
· I hate it. I think it’s poisonous. I think we need to have more positive images to combat those negative images.
- How was/is it working with Tyler Perry and the cast of Meet the Browns?
· It was great. I love the cast.
- Do you feel what they say about him being one-dimensional is true?
· Everyone has their own opinion. Everyone is entitled to their opinion.Why do we make such a big deal when people have their own opinions?
- What would you like to see on screen more in regards to issues facing African-Americans?
Me and others like me.
For more information and to keep up with Terri J. Vaughn, please visit: www.terrijvaughn.com and follow her on twitter @terrijvaughn
For more information or to make a donation to the Take Wings Foundation, visit: www.takewings.org
For more information on The Green Room Actors Lounge or to sign up for workshops in the Atlanta area, please visit: www.thegreenroomactorslounge.com and follow on twitter @realgreenroom.