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Tika Sumpter Talks About Staying Focused, Negative Images of Women and Double Standards

Actress Tika Sumpter covers the latest issue of Rolling Out Magazine. “The Haves and the Have Nots” actress who places Candace Young in the show, opens up about her experience in the entertainment business, how she views her career and remaining positive despite seemingly insurmountable odds.

In the interview Sumpter talked about the importance of staying focused and having a strong work ethic that will prepare you for when the right opportunities arise.

“I think one of the most important lessons that I’ve learned is to put your head down and work,” she said. “Don’t look at other people and compare yourself. Just do the work. Because when the opportunity is there, you have to be ready. Make sure your craft is refined and you’re constantly working on it. Plow through the weeds. Go to the auditions and go to the meetings and be on time. Stop looking to the left or the right. Keep your head down and keep moving.”

The Queens, New York-native defended her role as Young who is portrayed as a roguish, crafty jezebel with a very presumptuous, saucy attitude on the OWN Network show “The Haves and the Have Nots”, which many have interpreted as a negative representation of Black women. Sumpters character

“I think sometimes, because we haven’t been on TV that much, and [because] this is all relatively new; people want to be represented differently and they feel like one person is speaking for the masses,” she says. “But if the character has no challenges or isn’t a bit messy — there’s no show. There’s a reason why people love [ABC’s prime-time hit] ‘Scandal’ or ‘The Haves and the Have Nots’ or ‘Being Mary Jane’ on BET. It’s because these characters aren’t perfect. If you want to put a perfect person on TV, you will have no show. In life, sometimes you see yourself in these characters and sometimes it’s not pretty.”

Sumpter addressed how black actresses are often criticized because of the types of characters they play. She acknowledges that there’s a double standard that crosses racial and gender lines. “Look at ‘Breaking Bad,’ ” she said. “This is [a show about] a teacher who had a meth ring. And it was one of the biggest shows. It’s a show that people love. But nobody’s going after that.

“Life is messy. People make decisions. Sometimes art imitates life,” Sumpter added. “And I think, as people of color, we have to understand that we have stories, too, that need to be told. And real or not, that makes a good show and good characters and makes people watch… Some women are not really lifting up other women in these arenas. Which is really sad, because finally we’re getting some kind of voice,” she said of the criticism.

“Some of the criticism is even louder than ever. But for the most part, I feel that a lot of people are positive about these shows and are happy to see themselves and it’s fun to watch. And it’s not just Black people watching the shows—there are other people watching, as well. So I’m grateful for the masses that are positive about it and are entertained.”



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