Check Out My Interview with Terri J. Vaughn

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terri vaughn pic 2By Brittney M. Walker

There’s a new movie out about family and the complicated matters that go along with being a Black boy and girl. It’s wholesome, interesting and realistic. One of the stars, Terri J. Vaughn, better known for her role on “The Steve Harvey Show” as “Lovita Jenkins,” took some time to chat with me about her role in the film, along with her comments about raising Black boys post-Trayvon Martin. It was real! Check it out below.

Tell me about your role in “Love, Life, Soul.
I play the role of a mother of a teenage daughter who is a single parent, well, co-parenting with my ex husband. We’ve been able to keep her on the straight and narrow. She gets great grades, she’s college bound. And then she gets a boyfriend and she gets pregnant while still in high school. So, I’m just a mother who is completely disappointed and disturbed by the situation. And we have to work it out as a family.

Why did you take the role?
Because I love what the story is and I love playing a character that has to deal with this complex situation. The most important person in your life has completely disappointed you and in my eyes has just created a huge obstacle in her own life.

And being able to play a role where I have to deal with a plethora of emotions from a situation like that is very interesting to me. And I love playing characters that have complexity and have to deal with a lot of emotion. I loved it.

Tell me what it was like working on the set with a reality star, Tami Roman?

Well actually, Tami I’m not sure if she never did have aspirations of pursuing acting. I met her a long time ago before she was ever on the reality show. And to be honest, I was really surprised to see her on the reality show. When I met her, it was a completely different type of environment, so we’ve always been cool. She was amazing in this film. Her acting is going to surprise a lot of people. I’m not a huge supporter of reality shows, but I am a supporter of great work and she put it down in this film.

Our Black boys and men are up against a lot and have been for ages. Since the George Zimmerman was declared innocent, what thoughts and fears have you grappled with for the sake of your own children?
I have two sons, a 5 year old and a 12 year old. Honestly, I was hurt. My heart was broken. It took me a minute to literally stop crying. It was a very emotional evening for me. Just being a mother of boys and hearing that verdict come through, just feeling like my sons are up against this world in this kind of way and how the world views them and whatever lack of consideration lack of humanity, lack of love, lack of support the world view them with, all of that stuff is going through my mind. And just like Trayvon, my kids are beautiful, young, vibrant, smart kids. They are assets to the world. And it hurts my heart that some people do not view them as that.

How did the story impact you on a personal level?  
I’m a very active, supportive parent and my kids piss me off a lot when they’re not doing what they’re supposed to be doing, when they’re not focused in school. They make me angry and they are punished. Still I get up with them every day and still make sure I’m providing them with the nourishment that they need. I’m sitting at the table doing homework late at night when I don’t want to be but I have to. That’s why we are called to be their parents. Even when they’re at their worse, we never walk away. We’re still there pushing them to be the best they can be. That’s where she’s coming from too. She’s angry when she finds out her daughter is pregnant. But (my character) still can’t walk away. I loved playing this character. I was so over it. I was so angry with her. I just wanted to kill her. But she’s still my daughter and still my baby. But, how dare she.

You’re a mother, in real life, but in a different way through your foundation, Take Wings Foundation. Tell me about some of the issues that came up in the movie that are relevant to the situations that come up with the young women you service.
We have to deal with teen pregnancy. We talk to them and we’re very open and very candid. The choices that you make are going to alter your journey. Not saying you can’t still be successful women, the choices you make can make your journey harder or easier. You have to think about when you are deciding what you want to do in any given moment.  Sometimes we make the wrong choice and sometimes you make the right choice, but you still keep going.

We deal with a lot of stuff. Some of the girls are growing up in the foster care system. So they’re dealing with a lot. The people that are supposed to be there for them have turned their back on them. Or are molesting them, or abusing them in some kind of way.

For me personally, I have to fill in for them and feed into them that even in the most horrific situations that you may be living in, you still can make the choice to be successful in life. You still can make the choice to do your best and strive to get out of this situation. It’s all in the matter of the choices. Most all of them could easily and quite understandably make the choice and give up.

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