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Tika Sumpter talks Sparkle DVD and Ride Along

Tika Sumpter talks Sparkle DVD and Ride AlongBy Wilson Morales

November 30, 2012

Out today on home video (DVD/ Blu-ray) is the musical film, “Sparkle,” which stars American Idol’s Jordan Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Derek Luke, Mike Epps, Omari Hardwick, and the late Whitney Houston.

A remake of the 1976 film of the same name, the film was written by Mara Brock Akil and directed by her husband, Salim Akil.

“Sparkle” is a timeless story of the bonds of family, the trials of success and the power of music. In her feature film debut, “American Idol” sensation Jordin Sparks stars as Sparkle, a young woman whose big dreams seem almost impossible. She’s been warned against the pitfalls of the music industry by her protective mother (Whitney Houston), yet encouraged by the handsome and ambitious Stix (Derek Luke), Sparkle forms a trio with her sisters (Tika Sumpter and Carmen Ejogo). Together, they perform the soul-stirring songs that Sparkle pens. But as their fame grows, so do the risks of jealousy, self-doubt and insidious temptation. A sweeping drama is brought to life with a powerful cast including Mike Epps, Omari Hardwick and CeeLo Green.

For Sumpter, who plays Delores, the film represents a breakout role for her. Having been seen on TV for years for her role on the daytime soap “One Life to Live” as well as a recurring role in Season 4 of “Gossip Girl,” the Queens, New York native is starting to make some noise in the film industry.

Having briefly appeared in this year’s breakout hit, “Think Like a Man,” Sumpter will be working along with producer Will Packer and funnyman Kevin Hart in their next venture, “Ride Along.” recently caught up with Sumpter as she spoke about her experience with “Sparkle” and her upcoming projects.

What was the most fun aspect you had working on the film?

Tika Sumpter: I think the most fun aspect was the communal sense everyone was a family and we literally had a good time and didn’t feel it was a huge movie set where you didn’t talk to anybody. It just felt family and when you’re around family, you can let your hair down and laugh a lot.

I know that you were friends with some of the cast prior to shooting, but did you get close to the others?

TS: I was friends with Omari Hardwick and I established a friendship with Jordan Sparks and also with Carmen Ejogo. I’m really good friends with Carmen now. That was my first time meeting Whitney so that was huge and we all established a relationship. We all established a relationship in our own way with her. The ones I probably keep in touch the most with are Carmen and Omari.

Although you have been on TV with “One Life to Live” and “Gossip Girl,” this film put you in a bigger spotlight. What has it done for your career so far?

TS: I think any new move that you make that goes up helps, but it definitely made more people aware of me. It made directors more aware. It allowed for my talent to really shine through. I had a few really good scenes I was told. Some people told me that I’m on the lookout now. I’m now working on this film with Kevin Hart and Ice Cube called “Ride Along,” so every little of help counts.

Not only were you acting in “Sparkle,” but you were able to sing as well?

TS: Yes. That was so fun. I was actually singing before I started acting, but I booked acting roles before I had any singing gigs. It was fun to mesh the two and people were like, “I didn’t know that you sang.” Now, I’m getting some scripts were there’s singing in it. It definitely opened my universe to that. This film allowed me to combine the two.

What else is expected on the DVD/ Blu-ray?

TS: I’m sure there are some outtakes and some behind-the-scenes. I’m sure there are some bloopers. All the extra stuff you don’t see in the movie, like the extra scenes that didn’t make it into the film.

What do you tell purists who loved the original movie as far as why they should see this version?

TS: It’s an updated version. A lot of people said that it closed a lot of chapters. No one knew what happened to Delores in the original. We made a few changes. We updated some of the old songs and added in some new songs, so the film was mixed with some of the old and new. It’s a fresh take on a classic.

What did you learn from working with the Akils?

TS: They are such hard workers. I want to be like them. I want to be like them now. Just spread your wings. You don’t have to be one thing. You can do TV series and you can also do films. You can do everything and I feel like that’s what they are doing. They are about to get into reality as well. I feel that they just spread their wings and flew straight to the sky. Mara is such a smart writer and always coming up with ideas and Salim is a great director. He also writes as well. Hopefully, I’ll be working with him soon. I just learned that work ethic is everything.

What’s your role in “Being Mary Jane”? Are you a regular or recurring character?

TS: I’m not going to be a series regular. We decided that that is not what I was going to be, but they wanted me to be a part of it. I play one of Mary’s friends. I’m like a guest star. You’ll see me in the pilot and afterwards as well.

What’s your role in “Ride Along”?

TS: Universal Pictures is producing the film along with Will Packer’s Rainforest Films and Ice Cube’s CubeVision and I play Kevin Hart’s fiancé. I’m the only girl in the whole film. I play the little sister of Ice Cube’s character who’s grown up. The premise of the film is that he tales Kevin Hart’s character on a ride along to show how he’s not good enough for me. It’s a young woman trying to make decisions in life. It’s a funny film. I’m caught in the middle of these two characters, both whom I love dearly, but she’s trying to grow up at the same time.

Is it easy to keep a straight face when working with Kevin Hart?

TS: No. Cameras on or cameras off, Kevin Hart is Kevin Hart and he’s super funny and he’s fantastic at what he does. Every moment he really finds something funny. You can see him literally discover new things and doing it off the cuff. I’m just glad to be in a funny movie. It’s not too dramatic and I like learning from the best.

This marks the final season for “Gossip Girl.” Did you enjoy your time on the show?

TS: Yes. That run was awesome. I’m glad I had the opportunity. I knew from the beginning I wasn’t going to be a series regular but a recurring character. I was on there for a good amount of episodes where people could notice. It definitely helped open up my lane for other producers to take a look at me. It was fun to be part of that set and be a part of that world.

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