Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter talk Sparkle – Set Visit Report
Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter talk Sparkle – Set Visit Report
By Elle Castro
May 31, 2012
The anticipation for the release of the remake of 1976 classic “Sparkle” continues to build. As the masses prepare to see the beloved posthumous singer/actress Whitney Houston come to life once again on the big screen, Late in 2011, BlackFilm.com caught up with film co-stars Tika Sumpter (“Delores”) and Carmen Ejogo (“Sister”) to discuss their respective roles in the movie and experiences gained while working alongside Houston and title character Jordin Sparks (“Sparkle”), how they became involved in the project, and the impact the film will have on their careers.
Sparkle, a coming of age story about three sisters from Detroit who have the burning desire of living out their dreams as famous singers, is scheduled to arrive in theaters on August 17th.
BlackFilm.com: Can the two of you talk about the scene you were shooting?
Carmen Ejogo: We were just shooting a scene in which there’s dynamic between Delores and Sister. We’re pre-confrontational with each other and it’s really a love-hate dynamic throughout the movie. We have a scene where we’re trying to be convinced to join the group by Stix but we’re in the whole other sister thing, which is really chaotic and we’re not focused yet. We’re still not focused on being the great band that we could be.
I’m (“Sister”) not on board like the other girls. I (“Sister”) have other ambitions. I think I’m better than Detroit and better than this whole scene and it takes me a little longer to get on board than the other two.
Tika Sumpter: Delores doesn’t care what she wants to do or be. She’s in it for one reason only and that’s the money. We all have our reasons for wanting to be in the group and this is the very beginning of it.
What was the main reason you signed on to do these roles?
CE: Do you know anything about the role of Sister? That’s the role of a lifetime. She goes through the heights of glamour to the depths of drug addiction. I mea, it’s the gamut…To be able to play that is just a total Godsend. I wanted to play it with real substance and not just surface attempts, but really be allowed to go in gritty. It’s just the best.
TS: I really loved the script in general. When I read the script, I was blown away. “I have to be in this movie.” I’m grateful that I was able to dive into Delores because this time around she has a whole back-story. I’m excited for people to see who this girl is. She’s just not on the side. In the first one (movie), she’s there, but in this film, she’s a part of everything.
How far is it to transition your dialect for this role?
CE: I’ve done it before. My career has been playing mostly Americans; not a Detroit American necessarily, but I’ve definitely played American a lot at this point. I still have to remain focused and not be sidetracked. I have to listen to the other sounds that are happening and rhythms and melodies around me, but with Sister, there’s an affectation around her. She plays at being who’s down when she’s angry with mom. If it sounds like it was all over the place, it was intentional.
Are you ready for your lives to change once the film is released?
TS: I really want the film to do well, first and foremost. I want people to enjoy the story about family. Whatever happens after that is cool. Everyone knows the original is a classic and we’re doing it. “Ya’ll better not mess it up.” My mom and sister are so excited. They grew up with ‘Sparkle,’ so I want to do the film justice, and I think we are because Mara Brock Akil wrote the script and Salim Akil is directing. Debra Martin Chase is producing with T.D Jakes and I feel we have an amazing team and we are going to give people what they want and more. That’s all I’m focused on and nothing afterwards. I hope people like Delores because she has a lot to offer.
Can you talk about the audition process and how you became involved in the film?
CE: I was doing a film in Ohio, ‘I, Alex Cross,’ playing Tyler Perry’s wife and the make-up lady in the trailer said, “I heard about this film that they are filming in Detroit. You will be perfect for one of the roles I think.” I asked “What film?” and she said, “Sparkle.” I had heard about the film because I met the writer of the film a long time. I remember meeting with them and it was coming up. I’m not from here (the United States), so it’s not part of my background or world necessarily, but I knew of the name and it had this mythological status. I was right on it. I wasn’t sure if the role was still available, but I’m gong to put myself into it anyway. Sent it off and got a response quite quickly. They were really interested in taking it further. I did it (the audition tape) in my house but what’s funny is that people think the audition process is so much glamorous than it often is. It was just me at home. Every person who went after this role had to look the part, so it was me in my house, put a little bit of glamorous makeup on and tried to do a pseudo performance in my bedroom. I did material from the script and we didn’t know original music so I went with what I could find on you tube.
TS: Twinkie Byrd, who’s the casting director, had also placed me in ‘Stomp the Yard 2,’ and she called me and said “Did you get the script?” and I’m like, “What script?” and she said, “Sparkle. I’m going to need it by tomorrow” So (just like Carmen) same thing. I had my sister come over and just recorded it in my kitchen and then I sent it. That was basically it. Nothing too glamorous.
Can you talk about working with Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston?
TS: When I heard that Whitney would be playing our mom, I grew up with her music and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” I was super excited to work with her. I love her and Jordin’s great. She’s definitely open and ready to explore the acting world. She’s been doing fantastic.
CE: There was a slight intrepidation because there were people who made the cast that weren’t actors first. I don’t sing. I act, but I’m learning from them everyday. They’re both fantastic.