Tasha Smith, Michael Jai White Talk For Better or Worse
Tyler Perry’s For Better Or Worse
An Interview with Tasha Smith and Michael Jai White
By Wilson Morales
November 23, 2011
Tyler Perry‘s newest sitcom, ‘For Better Or Worse,’ is scheduled to makes its debut on Nov.25 on TBS.
The sitcom will be based on two characters, Marcus and Angela, from Tyler Perry’s ‘Why Did I Get Married’ and ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?’
The new dramedy will follow the tumultuous relationship of the lovesick couple.
In speaking with Blackfilm.com, Tasha Smith and Michael Jai White spoke about reprising their signature film roles for the small screen.
Can you talking playing the role you created on screen for TV audiences now?
Tasha Smith: It’s really a great opportunity because we get a chance to show different dimensions of our characters, Michael and myself. From the movies, you get to see one dimension of who they are in a relationship, but on the TV show, we have week to week to deal with so many issues. They’re not fighting all the time, but raising their children, blending their family together, blending their businesses and so forth. It’s going to be a wonderful balance and people are really going to get to know and understand the characters much better.
Michale Jai White: I’m working with some of my good friends and we get a chance to really touch upon issues that you seldom see on television or you haven’t seen in a long time. We get to explore social issues and make mistakes and on top of that make folks laugh.
Does one have to watch the two films first before they start viewing the TV series?
TS: Well, hopefully most people that are going to look at the show know Angela and Marcus because they were fans of both films. If people rent the films this weekend prior to the show debuting, they can get more excited about it. Marcus and Angela have been married for 13 years and they’re the couple that has a lot of challenges and are pretty transparent with their challenges when they are around their friends. Marcus is an ex-football player and Angela runs a salon. During ‘Why Did I Get Married Too?,’ the business was doing too well because the recession as far as the salon is concerned and Marcus started coming up because he became a sportscaster, so that made some changes in the dynamic of their relationship. Now, going into the television show, they are just entrepreneurs. Angela moved into a new salon and running her business with her product and hair line. Marcus is not only a sportscaster but he’s part owner of the show as well as the studio that they are shooting out of. You’re going to see some of the baby mama drama. The Keisha character is going to come back with a different actress named Kiki Haynes. We have a whole new group of friends. Our cast is amazing. We have Kent Faulcon, Crystle Stewart, Jason Olive, Cocoa Brown, Bobb’e J. Thompson, and Brad James.
Having appeared as a guest on other TV shows in the past, are you ready to do this as an everyday job?
MJW: I put everything in perspective. I used to make the white line on a freeway when I was doing construction. I used to be a school teacher. Now that was a grind. Now when you’re playing make-believe and pretending to be someone else, that’s fun. There are people who would give their right arm to be in the same position I’m in. I don’t see it as a grind. I see it as a challenge. If it can be done, then you can accomplish it.
TS: I’m really ready. I started off first doing a TV series called ‘Boston Common.’ That was my first big job and then I went on to do another half hour comedy show and that was with Tom Arnold called ‘The Tom Show.’ It’s been years because I’ve been doing movies and teaching, but I’m really excited to be shooting in Atlanta and work with Tyler Perry at his studio. It’s such a great place to film. I have family in Atlanta so it’s a blessing.
Can you talk about working with Tyler and has he allowed you to add more layers to Angela’s persona?
TS: Tyler is so collaborative. We’re having a good time and he’s wonderful. He has great vision and he’s open to ideas as far as to Michael and myself. He’s let us help him develop these characters on the small screen.
MJW: The way Tyler does it is that he trusts me more than himself. That’s just the way it goes. You can create a character and that actor’s job is to do justice to that character as much as possible. Tyler trusts me completely as I trust him. I don’t think he’s ever gone against what Tasha and I felt. If we felt something is not right, they would hear us out. We’re not coming from a place of ego. We’re trying to do the best job we can. Since everyone is on the same page, there’s a symbiosis that it’s always been there and that’s what makes it pleasant to work with. Everyone understands the job the other has to do.
What’s going to be different about Angela that wasn’t in the films?
TS: You will see her trying to make some changes. You will see her having her struggles, but then trying to fix it and trying to make things right. Instead of seeing her fighting her way out of things, you will see a level of maturity. The challenges will pop in and out and you’ll see those.
I see that Angela and Marcus live in a gorgeous mansion.
TS: I like the fact that Tyler chose to make them wealthy and there are a lot of people out there already depressed and down about the economy and their financial situations. To see these two as black people pursuing their dreams and starting their own businesses, I feel that it will put hope into the community to see African Americans faces on television like that. I think it’s awesome.
With the films that you do, voicing the ‘Black Dynamite’ animated series, and the TV series, how do you find time to be with your family?
MJW: I feel like I have sufficient time to have a regular life. Even if I compare myself to the average 9 to 5 employee, many of them don’t have the time that I have. I bring the kids to school. Many people can’t do that, but I get chunks of time to spend with family that a lot of people don’t. I try to look at the positive sides of those things because when you break it down to hours and family time, I tend to have more of the latter than the average person. A lot of people come home and have less time to spend with their children because they have to go to sleep or do their homework. Being an actor or director is a fun job and it’s hard work, but I try to balance it with my family life. On a typical day, like today, I’ll be done with work by 4 p.m and have time to be with them.
What keeps you grounded?
TS: God keeps me grounded as well as my husband, Keith Douglas, who is such an inspiration to me. He’s an author, speaker, and businessman. He’s just a great husband and blessing. I just launched a new fragrance called ‘US,’ which is an organic oil and people can go to www.justtasha.com to get more information about that.