From Hollis to Hollywood, Twizzler-loving Tika Sumpter has spread her infectious personality like the #occupywallstreet movement. It’s unexplainable yet refreshing how this confidently sashaying young actress is spotted at the brightly-lit who’s who events of Tinseltown. As if having not one care in the world or one personal conflict, Sumpter ignites instant likeability.
As primetime’s sweetheart (One Life to Live‘s Layla Williamson), VV first caught a true glimpse of Hollywood’s “It” girl while she schmoozed with the girls of the Upper East Side. Then, almost like a vow to always stay down, she sniffed out a role on fan-resurrected sitcom The Game. Between the three major TV salutes? She stomped out other actresses to be the lead sorority girl and main lady in Stomp The Yard 2. So yes, in conjunction with acutely chasing the fame, she’s actually been working. And hard.
Now, as a socialite gaining silver screen recognition alongside funny girl Anna Faris in What’s Your Number? and a fashionista spreading her stylish wings on the red carpets of every coast, it’s hard not to notice her. For you to still be ignorant to this striking northern rose is to be out of touch with this Twitteration’s rising stars. Ask Russell Simmons about her. And while you wait for a response from Uncle Rush, this starlet has got her well-manicured hands on the likes of Jason Derulo and Trey Songz. Her boy toys? Never! She’s single, sassy and as sweet as a Queens girl can get.
There’s really just something about this 20-plus-year-old cocoa-skinned thespian that we absolutely adore… Oh, and there’s more. Check it. - Niki McGloster
VIBE VIXEN: What sparked your love for acting and the arts?
TIKA SUMPTER: I was born in Hollis, Queens. My mom was married to my dad for 13 years, and I grew up in a single-parent house after my mom and dad divorced. After school, I would watch Rudy Huxtable [Keshia Knight Pulliam] from The Cosby Show. I remember looking at her and saying as a little girl, ‘I wanna do what she does,’ [but] my mom was working so hard that the thought of being an actor was so far from my thoughts. My claim to fame was Run DMC living down the block, LL Cool J living down the block [and] my sister dancing for MC Lyte. When I moved to Long Island and my mom remarried, I was more aware of figuring out what I wanted to do when I grew up.
How old were you when you were watching The Cosby Show and wanted to be Rudy?
Probably 5 or 6.
Growing up in a single-parent home, were there any struggles that molded you?
Not growing up with a dad was really hard, but my mom was so on point. She was a lover, and the authority that basically gave us whoopings. If you missed that bus to school, you were walking. I saw my mom struggle a lot which made me not want to do the things normal teenagers do. I was super prude in junior high and high school; the prudest person in the pack. I was so active in school that I wasn’t even thinking about sex. Even my girlfriend and I, who are best friends since junior high, we were talking and she was like, ‘Tika, nobody knows what they’re doing in junior high, middle school or high school with sex, so why is everybody in a rush?’
[Laughs] Would you say that you were shy or just conservative about those activities?
I think I’m both. People might think I’m not shy, because when you see me, I talk, but I was kind of shy. I was shy, and I was scared. I was like, ‘Oh my God, I don’t wanna get pregnant; I have too much to do in life right now.’ It scared me a little bit.
Okay, so fast forward. What was your first break into the industry, through acting or singing?
Before I started acting, I got my first record deal at Universal. I was a teenager, and I was not ready for a record deal. I was in a group really young and had no clue. I was just freaked out. I knew I wanted to sing, but when you have no control, and you don’t really understand how everything works; it’s a little confusing. Acting wise, when I got my first national commercial, I was so excited. One Life To Live definitely opened the door to other things. I was definitely working before One Life To Live, but it was my first big contract and very cool.