Tika Sumpter on ‘The Haves and the Have Nots’

Tyler Perry’s breakout hit drama The Haves and the Have Nots returned with all-new episodes last week after season 1 ended with a shocking cliffhanger. Tika Sumpter’s character, Candace Young, was abducted.

Sumpter caught up with to discuss the status of her character, how Perry helps her channel her malicious side and what it was like playing one of James Brown’s lovers in the upcoming biopic starring Chadwick Boseman.

JET: What is the status of you character, Candace, and what’s in store for her this season?

Tika Sumpter: She’s still talking junk while she’s tied up [laughs]. She’s still putting on her game face trying to be strong, but they haven’t let her go yet. But what I am excited about this season is that the fans are going to be able to see a little bit of a more vulnerable side of Candace and see different things break down. I think a lot of people always expect her to have all of the answers to everything. Also, you’re going to see why she’s angry and why she’s doing the things she does. She’s hurt. You know that saying, “hurt people, hurt people”? That’s very true for Candace.

JET: How do you get into the role of playing Candace? She’s usually known for being malicious, so how do you get into that mode?

TS: You say malicious, I say potato [laughs]. The words are there, but I think you pull from different people you see and you pull from different aspects of life. That’s why you have experiences because they help you apply them to the creativity of what you’re trying to do. So, it’s not one particular person or place or thing, I think it’s just overall experience in life. Also, Tyler [Perry] definitely talks to me about people he’s been around, who he’s actually seen and how and why they were like that. That actually helps a lot.

JET: So Tyler kind of helps you get into your role?

TS: Yes, because he pulls from things that he’s seen. Sometimes I ask him, “Where is this coming from? Somebody actually does this?” And he’s like, “Yeah.” He definitely helps me to understand certain things that I haven’t grown up around because I don’t know if Candace would necessarily be my friend [laughs].

JET: So there isn’t a little bit of Candace in you at all?

TS: Yeah, I think there’s a little bit of the character in every actor who plays a character actually. I think there’s the ambition part that I love about her and that’s me—I’m a very ambitious person. And I push forward, I push through the pain and I push through life and make things happen. That’s me in Candace.

JET: Out of all of the characters that you’ve played throughout your career, where would you rank Candace among your favorites?

TS: I can’t do that, that’s like putting babies against each other [laughs]! That’s not fair. So far, I’ve loved every character that I’ve played and hopefully there’s a lot more coming. I’m just grateful to be working.

JET: Aside from the show, do you have any other projects that you’re working on that you can share?

TS: Yes, the James Brown movie Get On Up is coming out and I’m really excited about that. I play Yvonne Fair, one of his background singers and one of his lovers. You know, James Brown was a very complex human being and I’m just excited for people to see what Tate Taylor did directing it and to see a different side of Chadwick Boseman, who played Jackie Robinson in 42. I think he did a spectacular job.

Just to be a part of a cast that is amazing—Viola Davis, Octavia Spencer, Dan Aykroyd—and to have it produced by Mick Jagger and Brian Grazer; I just wanted to be a part of it. I didn’t care if I just opened the door, I’m glad that I was a part of that. Then I have this movie called My Man is a Loser that Lionsgate is producing. It’s with John Stamos, myself, Michael Rapaport and Bryan Callen. It’s a playboy basically giving instructions to two married men about how to go about their love lives, which I would not instruct anybody to do. It’s a romantic comedy, it’s funny and it comes out in July.

JET: These sound like pretty drastically different roles for you, so that’s great that we get to see you in such diverse roles.

TS: Yes, that’s where my energy is right now. I just want to do things that are different so that I’m not pigeonholed and people can see me in different arenas.

About Marissa Wallace

Marissa Wallace 

Marissa Wallace is a Los Angeles-based freelance journalist who delves into the multifaceted and rich fabric of Black arts and culture. Follow her happenings on Twitter @MarsWall_ for more.