Actress Tika Sumpter thinks her role as a treacherous gold digger in a scripted TV series is a groundbreaking role for black actresses. Sumpter praises director Tyler Perry for creating such a trailblazing role for black actresses like her who are normally passed over leading ladies.
Sumpter’s role as Candace Young in OWN Network’s top rated series “The Haves and the Have Nots” is the type of role that is usually written for black actresses. But Sumpter, who does her best Gabrielle Union impression as Candace Young, believes otherwise.
“Sometimes for African-American actresses, we don’t get to play that role of the vixen or the lead woman,” she says. “Sometimes we’re just the best friend. This is the front-burner story. It’s full of so many complexities.”
Sumpter defends Perry against critics who say he dumbs down stereotypical roles for black actors. “You have the right to turn the channel,” she said in an interview with The Grio. “There are a lot of people who turn the channel on, who have made him this successful, so there is an audience. When we start making judgments on what’s lowbrow to some people, then you’re making accusations that this group of people doesn’t know what’s really good. I don’t think that’s fair. Don’t condemn a bunch of people who actually go to these movies for what they like.”
Sumpter believes the people who created an online petition calling for Perry and Oprah Winfrey to end their partnership are misguided. “He empowers people every day by employing over 400 people in his studio,” she said. “He’s the only black man with a studio; I’m talking about a studio lot…He’s come from no connection in this business to where he is now, a mogul. And if Oprah believes in him, that’s a great thing. She wouldn’t surround herself with people who are not enlightened and not smart.”