David and Tamela Mann are the epitome of love, marriage, strong family and success. The couple has worked together since the days of Kirk Franklin and the Family—Tamela was lead vocalist on “Now Behold the Lamb.”
The charming couple became household names working on “Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns,” “Madea’s Big Happy Family,” “Sparkle,” “It’s a Mann’s World” and now, a show that’s all about family—”Mann & Wife.” The show’s title is the embodiment of the Manns belief in family as they celebrate 27 years of marriage this month.
“We took divorce off the table, so everything else has to work,” said David. “We made our marriage a priority over music, entertainment and everything else.”
The new scripted series which the couple co-created, premiered on Bounce TV this past Tuesday. Starring as newlyweds Daniel and Toni Mann, the half-hour sitcom revolves around the married couple and their blended family; each character has two children from previous marriages. In addition to David and Tamela, “Mann & Wife” stars Tony Rock and JoMarie Payton, and will feature guest appearances by Tiny Lister, Vivica A. Fox, J. Anthony Brown, Demetria McKinney, Julissa Bermudez and Rolanda Watts.
In this interview, the Manns discuss the show’s relevance and explore the definition of family.
JET: Why did you decide to do the show?
David Mann: We wanted to make sure that we put the black family in a good light—with everything that’s going on in the world. We wanted to bring good family fun to television.
Tamela Mann: Family is important to us, especially with our family being blended and we know that a lot of families now are blended and it’s not talked about in the industry. We thought maybe our blended family might help others stay together, although you may have different situations. I was raised as a stepchild and I know how that felt. David had kids and I wanted them to feel as one. We wanted to talk about how we could bring our families together seamlessly.
JET: What do you want people to get from the show?
David Mann: We don’t want to be preachy on the show, but we want to show the principles that we have without preaching.
Tamela Mann: I wanted my kids to realize that family is all we have. God forbid if something should happened to us. You have to come together because family is all you got.
JET: How important is it to support shows with African American actors and creators?
David Mann: I think it’s very important. There are people who put negative things out there—that’s fine, you have to deal with it. The success of Empire and Black-ish, that only makes it better for more black shows. I think that the more positive television we see in the world, the more the world will want it.
Tamela Mann: We have something to be seen and heard as well. It’s not always in the negative. It’s important for our children. For me it’s about family coming together and we need to be seen as family. I want my kids to realize that family is all you got. And if something should happen to any of us you have to stand together.
JET: How do you balance family and career?
Tamela Mann: It’s important that when we go home that I am wife, mother and grandmother. It’s important that I dedicate and give all of my time to them and make them a priority in my life. We are kinda’ dysfunctional with our family because we always like to be together. Family time is important to me because we’re gone so much.
David Mann: We don’t balance it. Our family outweighs anything we can do in the entertainment industry.
JET: What do you like best about Tamela?
David Mann: Who she is as a person. I wanted someone when I got married that could take care of herself. I love everything—her beauty. The woman that she is spiritually—her anointing drew me early on.
Effie Rolfe is a media consultant, personality and speaker. For years, she was the “voice of inspiration” each Sunday morning and middays on Chicago radio. She also speaks at schools, churches and workshops. Effie writes for several publications and is the author of The K(N)ots Prayer. Visit her Website effierolfe.com; like her on mseffierolfe.com and follow her via @effiedrolfe.