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March 2008
An Interview with David and Tamela Mann


An Interview with David and Tamela Mann
By Tarice Gray

March 17, 2008

After starting out with Tyler Perry from the beginning, David and Tamela, who have done many of his theatrical shows (I Can Do Bad All By Myself, Madea's Family Reunion, Madea's Class Reunion, Meet the Browns, and What's Done in the Dark), will finally make their debut on the big screen as Leroy and Cora Brown in ‘Tyler Perry’s Meet The Browns’. David’s character,, Leroy Brown is the father of Madea's daughter Cora (Tamela Mann). Brown is very religious and shouts a lot and is mostly comical and wears clothes that are too little for him. Tamela began her career as a singer with the gospel group Kirk Franklin and the Family. Mann was a featured soloist on several tracks while with Franklin's group, including "Now Behold the Lamb", and "Lean on Me", the latter of which also included Mary J. Blige, Crystal Lewis, R. Kelly, and Bono. While David is making his big screen debut, Tamela Mann has made appearances in movies such as Kingdom Come and Diary of a Mad Black Woman. In speaking with blackfilm.com, both David and Tamela spoke about their 20 year marriage and working with Tyler Perry.

How long have you two been married?

David: 20 years come this April. We were 21 when we got married and we’re both 41.

You’re not supposed to say your age in Hollywood.

David: We’re not from Hollywood. We’re from the South. We’re Texans.

The way you twist the words on screen comes across effortlessly. Was that written that way or do you just do that and he uses it?

David: What Tyler will do is create a skeleton for me. That’s the way we have always done things. It’s weird because he knows what I’m going to do and I know what he’s thinking, so he’ll put out a skeleton out there and ask me to put some meat on it. That’s just kind of how we work and it’s worked for us. Thank God.

Did Angela get used to it?

When we first started, it takes some time to get used to dealing with me, and when we first started shooting the film, Angela was like, ‘Ok. This guy is a 100 mile an hour’ and once she got used to it, she actually started rolling along right with me. In one scene where we are the bus stop, I started to say ‘I’m Mr. Brown’ and she just jump right in there.

What was it like to play opposite Angela Bassett?

Tamela: We couldn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe I was standing next to her after watching her on screen for so many years from playing Tina Turner to ‘How Stella Got Her Groove Back’. I am still in awe.

David: We would be on the set and be professional, but afterwards I’d be like, ‘I’m working with Angela Bassett’. Then you go back on the set and it’s action.

What had you been done before?

David: This is my first film. I’ve done theater, but this is my first feature film.

Tamela: I’ve done a couple of film, but this is my first principal film.

Was it a challenge to make a transition for film?

David: I’m always on 10 and I’m so animated. For stage, I have to make sure that the person in the first row and the person in the last row can hear me. Everything is right in this box and for me to bring all that down was a real challenge for me. I was really concern. ‘Am I going to be too much or too animated?’ We worked it out and some of it we left on 10 because it worked for what it is for.

I did think in some scenes you were being resigned.

David: And that’s good. I like that in Tyler because I really like his eye. He can see if I am going over the edge. I look for him to me so because I know I can go to the cliff and I just try to cross the line. I try to jump off. They keep me grounded.

Is David like this all the time?

Tamela: He’s like that at home. He’s always on 10. He’s always hyped. If he’s not talking, he’s singing. He’s always doing something. The truth is that it’s hard for me to be mad at him because he cuts up so much. He’ll make me mad and he’ll do something and then I’ll laugh at him. But, you gotta love him.

Is it ever too much?

Tamela: At times. I just walk away.

David: There was one moment where I know she wanted to kill me, but the joke was so good…

Tamela: It was during our first year of marriage.

David: It’s a learning period during those times.

Do you have children?

Tamela: Yes. We have 4, but we raise 5.

How did the two of you meet?

Tamela: My best friend went to high school with him and they sung in choir together. She told him that she knew someone that could sing so she brought me…

David: No, she told me that she knew someone that could sing better than us.

Tamela: My Nicole introduce us.

David: We remained friends for about a year, and one day I kissed her, we fell in love, got married, and kids.

Where did the voice come from?

David: It came from a guy I knew, Mr. George, who was a really happy guy.

You have such a beautiful voice. What’s next for you?

Tamela: Now, I have Tamela Mann live experience, which is out on DVD in stores. Also, me and David are working on doing something together and we’ll get started on that by the end of the year.

David: You can always go to www.davidandtamelamann.com to find out what we have next.

How comfortable are those costumes that you wore?

David: Now they are okay.

Tamela: As you can see, he’s lost some weight, but they were screaming.

David: A lot of those clothes were original stuff and you can see the wardrobe people saying to me to don’t move. After a scene, they would pull it loose so I could relax. A lot of it was really uncomfortable.

Tyler said that all of you started the same night.

David: Yes, all three of us were in Chicago with Madea, Mr. Brown, and Cora in ‘I Can Do Bad All By Myself’.

Having known Tyler for so long, how has he grown as a director?

Tamela: He’s grown a lot. In the beginning, he was good and working with him on the sitcom, I really got to see another side of him. To me, he’s gotten better and better and we just follow his lead.

David: He can see the energy. One day after 4 or 5 days, he can see that the energy was low, and no one realized it, and he was like, ‘Get him some snickers!’, and the same goes with him. We can sense when something’s wrong.

Did you ever think doing the plays would get Tyler and yourselves this far?

David: I couldn’t imagine it. I didn’t think it would grow to what it is now with Madea and the subsequent plays and films. We were happy just to be on stage. To do the spinoff with ‘Meet The Browns’ was something else. I was nervous the first night we did it on stage. I’m still nervous with the film.

TYLER PERRY’S MEET THE BROWNS opens on March 21, 2008.



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