Tasha Smith, this critic’s pick as the best African-American actress of 2007, toned down her trademark act for her new movie, The Longshots, a wholesome family flick featuring Ice Cube and Keke Palmer, and based on a young girl’s real-life triumph as a quarterback who led her team to the Pop Warner Superbowl. As Claire Plummer, the mother of the history-making football phenom, Tasha got a chance to prove her versatility by exhibiting a relatively-subdued side of her emotional range.
Rising to the occasion, she proved herself to be every bit as compelling in this capacity, which means we have every reason to expect to see this rising cinematic star in more pure dramatic roles. Here, the statuesque beauty shares her thoughts about this refreshing change of pace from playing her typical sassy sister with an attitude.
KW: Hey, Tasha, thanks for another interview.
TS: Kam, are you kidding me? What’s up? How’re you doing?
KW: I’m great. How’s life been treating you?
TS: Wonderfully!I’m great, thank God. I’m so good, and I just moved into a new house.
KW: Well then, on behalf of “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan, I have to ask you where your place is located.
TS: In the Woodland Hills area.
KW: How’s your equally-stunning twin sister, Sidra?
TS: She’s great! She’s busy.
KW: How’s your acting school doing?
TS: It is so good, Kam. I have been touring it, going to different cities. I was in Atlanta and New York. And I’m going to Chicago in October, and then D.C., and Miami. And I have my ongoing classes in Los Angeles. It’s just been amazing and such a blessing. That is my heart. I love all the actors and doing the three-day workshop-seminar.
KW: How would you describe your teaching style?
TS: I like to be really transparent with my students, so they can know the true experience of an up-and-coming actor. Sometimes, they only see the finished product and have no idea about the reality of the journey, because a lot of celebrities like to hide and to keep their journey a mystery. But I feel that that approach doesn’t help anyone else, especially since part of my calling is to my community. I hope that my transparency will help inspire and encourage the next person.
KW: How did you enjoy playing Claire Plummer in The Longshots? The character was certainly a change of pace for you.
TS: You know how people always have a certain expectation of what you’re going to do in every role?
TS: Well, I enjoyed being able to create something different, and showing a different part of myself. But at the same time I missed that energy. You follow me?
KW: Yeah, your trademark explosiveness.
TS: [Laughs] Yes. This character is definitely not like that. She’s a type of parent that we do see in the world, and I thought it was very important to show that kind of human spirit. Still, I’m definitely looking forward to giving people who admire my explosiveness, as you say, something that they enjoy watching me do as well.
KW: Do you ever feel like you’re being typecast?
TS: I don’t feel like that. When you have a fan base, you like to give them something that they want. It’ll be interesting to see how people respond to this character, because I know it’s not what people normally like to get from me.
KW: You know how I always ask people: Is there a question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would? Last time, your answer was, Are you ever afraid. Well, I liked your question so much that I ask everybody that now.
TS: My publicist [Joseph Babineaux] showed it to me and I was so shocked. How have people been responding?
KW: It’s interesting because it forces them to reflect and to be real.
TS: Who do you feel you got one of the best answers from?
KW: Recently, from Philippe Petit, the man who made history in 1974 by walking on a tightrope between the roofs of the TwinTowers. He admitted that he’s deathly afraid of spiders. Who would’ve ever figured that?
KW: Is there any other question no one ever asks you, that you wish someone would?
TS: Yes, Are you ever disappointed? And here’s another one: How important are your friends to you?
KW: Those are both deep emotionally questions. Why do you think reporters don’t ask questions like that?
TS: Maybe it’s because entertainers don’t usually like to get too personal. So, the journalists tend to keep things on the surface and not really get to deep into the heart of the individual that they’re dealing with by asking about discouragements, disappointments or internal roadblocks, maybe. For example, they never ask, what’s been some of your obstacles in life? You know what I mean?
TS: Maybe it’s just me, but I always like the kind of communication which could possibly touch the life or heart of someone reading, especially because the world is going through so much right now in terms of gas prices… imprisonment… drug addiction,,, finances… teenage pregnancy… and HIV in the black community. The world is definitely going through a lot. People are really discouraged, and are suffering from a great deal of internal turmoil. Even our industry is going through changes. The only African-American shows on TV right now are House of Pain, The Game and LincolnHeights. Think about that. Remember, there was a time when we had so many shows on television. Black actors and casting directors were working. But now, it is so scary. Most black actors are unemployed. And not only are they unemployed, but their mortgages and finances are in trouble. Do you know how discouraging it is for a celebrity who used to work regularly to have to host at a restaurant? And it’s that kind of stuff that we don’t talk about.
KW: Bookworm Troy Johnson wants to know again, what was the last book you read?
TS: I don’t read many novels. I’m more into self-help books. I’m reading two right now. They’re both by Dr. Creflo Dollar. One is called, “8 Steps to Create the Life You Want.” And the other is, “Lord, Teach Me How to Love.” They’re very good. I picked up “Lord, Teach Me How to Love” because I was having some personal problems, and I didn’t want unforgiveness to set into my heart. You know how it’s easy for seeds of unforgiveness to sit there when you’ve been disappointed with people? And if you don’t pay attention to it, it can kind of grow into something else. So, I read this book to try to consistently be active in forgiving and walking in love. I was doing that for myself, because unforgiveness is worse for you than the person that you’re mad at.
KW: The music maven Heather Covington question: What’s music are you listening to nowadays?
TS: Wow! I have different stuff that I like to listen to at different times. I like quiet gospel music, if I’m just chilling in the house. I probably need to be a little bit more diverse musically, because I can get stuck listening to the same songs over and over again. I have more of a movie collection than I do music. I’m still on Mary’s [Mary J. Blige] album. I’m still on Jill’s [Jill Scott] old album. And I’m loving Alicia [Keys] , Rhianna, and Anthony David who’s this guy out of Atlanta who’s really good. And I love old school, too. I could listen to the Isley Brothers and Marvin Gaye forever. Forever!
KW: How do you want to be remembered?
TS: As someone who loved her community, loved her students, loved her family, and would try to just please God on this Earth realm.
KW: Thanks Tasha, and good luck with The Longshots.