The Fretts on Film Interview: Tika Sumpter on Whitney Houston and… John Stamos?
You might not know Tika Sumpter’s name yet, but that could change soon. The TV veteran (One Life to Live, Gossip Girl) has been transitioning to the big screen with roles in the box-office smash Think Like a Man—she appeared as Michael Ealy’s girlfriend—and alongside the late Whitney Houston in Sparkle. Next year, she’ll costar with none other than John Stamos in the rom-com My Man is a Loser. I chatted with her for The New York Daily News in advance of her appearance at this week’s Urbanworld Film Festival to promote her new BET movie, Being Mary Jane. Here are some choice outtakes.
You’ve worked with the married couple of writer Mara Brock Akil and writer-director Salim Akil on Sparkle, BET’s The Game and now Being Mary Jane. What are they like behind the scenes?
They’re so supportive. I feel like they’re my Woody Allen. Because Woody Allen and Spike Lee and a lot of these directors hire the same actors they like to work with. I’ve been lucky enough to work with them a few times, and I love that they believe in their actors. Salim is an actor’s director—we are involved in the process. He allows us to be a part of it. He puts his fingerprint on it as well, but he allows the actors to be free. Mara is a great writer, and she definitely has her finger on the pulse. It just came out they have a deal with Paramount. They’re moving like a steamroller.
And how was working with Whitney Houston on Sparkle?
Oh, it was awesome. It was like a big ol’ family. Salim handled everybody with care. That set was full of love. Nobody expected the tragedy to happen at all. We just did the best we could and moved forward, and I felt like the product was great.
You’ve also got My Man Is a Loser coming up, with John Stamos. What can you tell me about it?
John’s character is a single guy who has married best friends. They’re always like, “Why are we married? We can never satisfy our wives.” I play the manager of John’s bar, and I give the girl input of how things really are. It gets a little fun, romantically.
You have sexual tension with John Stamos?
Yeah! He’s awesome—everybody’s favorite uncle. You don’t realize how many people love him until you’re on the streets of New York City with him. You’re like, “Wow! Okay.”
People grew up watching him. Did you?
I did, so it was weird that I had to, like, kiss him. But I am not complaining!
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