Tasha Smith is the kind of actress whose roles are so infectiously relatable that she instantly becomes that “friend in your head.”
For over 20 years, Smith, 43, has been gracing our big and small screens. I first remember seeing her serve as Tyra Banks’ friend and go-to acting coach on the reality modeling competition show, “America’s Next Top Model.” I recall watching her give the aspiring models a crash course in acting with funny, over-the-top antics that made her memorable.
Since then, Smith has gone on to become one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood. She’s played roles in several Tyler Perry productions including “Daddy’s Little Girls, “Why Did I Get Married,” its sequel and current spin-off television series, “For Better Or Worse,” plus a host of other movies and TV shows.
Smith’s big personality, quick wit and humor often translate into her roles, but not all the time. In fact, the New Jersey native showed a more subdued, serious side as psychotherapist “Dr. Marcella Spencer,” in last year’s steamy feature film, “Addicted.”Now, in a recurring role on Fox’s breakout hit, “Empire,” Smith is continuing to show viewers that she’s an actress who can take on just about any character—well, she is an acting coach after all!
I recently caught up with the actress where she talked about Zane’s erotic books, why “Empire” is the modern day “Martin,” friendship and more!
Check out the Q&A below:
BGG: You’ve played so many roles in your career. What character did you learn the most from playing?
Tasha Smith: That’s a great question. A long time ago I had done a Jerry Bruckheimer TV movie where I played an astronaut stuck out of space. We thought we were going to die. That was before a lot of the comedy stuff I had done came out. I learned a lot. My character had a son and was married and lived with the fear of never seeing her family again. Her fight to survive was really important. At that point in my life, I wasn’t really honest about fear. You might meet people who say they don’t have any fears because they have faith. But, I believe that all of us have some kind of fear. I learned a lot discovering the fears of that character. It was a wonderful learning experience for me.
BGG: Who was your biggest inspiration for becoming an actress?
TS: I have to really go back to my best friend. I have people who inspire me now, but when I was young with a dream at 15 years old I met who is my best friend to this day, Tisha Campbell-Martin. We have been best friends since we were 15. I’m the godmother of her youngest son, Ezekial. She had come to Camden, NJ with a guy she was dating. At the time I was just a girl from Camden, so to meet her was very inspiring. She was the hotness, honey! That was Tisha Campbell, baby! She inspired me and taught me about integrity, character, work ethic, professionalism and how to behave on the set, etc. When I moved to California and Tisha got “Martin,” I also worked as her assistant. Through that time I really learned a lot.
BGG: Prior to landing the role as Dr. Marcella Spencer in “Addicted,” were you a fan of Zane erotic novels?
TS: Listen, first of all Zane’s books…let me stop! (laughing) I was very familiar with her as an author. I wasn’t one to sit and read her books all the time because I went through this time in my life where I was celibate and reading Zane’s books was not helping me to do that! All you want to do is have sex after reading Zane books!
BGG: I know that you’ve spoken openly about being a Christian, does your faith ever conflict with roles you’re approached to play?
TS: Absolutely not! I’m an actor and I can’t judge characters based on my spirituality and how I choose to believe in God. To me, whatever your choice of spirituality is, it’s your personal choice. I may play a character that doesn’t believe in God at all. It doesn’t interfere at all because I believe in God and thank Him for having a connection.
BGG: While watching Oprah’s Selma special last month, I noticed that you were in attendance. What was that experience like?
TS: It was one of the best, most beautiful experiences of my life. That lady (Oprah) knows how to throw party! I had a chance to meet Berry Gordy and sit down and talk to Smokey Robinson who was just divine.
BGG: You’re now on the hit Fox show, “Empire,” were you at all surprised by the positive response it’s been getting?
TS: I am so happy and grateful to be a part of that movement because it is truly a movement. You know when something is greater than you can imagine? I think “Empire” is bigger than anything we ever imagined. I don’t think anyone knew just how infectious it was going to be. It’s like the best thing on TV since “Martin.” Remember when “Martin” first came out and we were all addicted to it back in the day? Every time Martin did a taping, every celebrity wanted to go to it. That was like the thing to do. Every basketball team, every actress, every singer, everybody was addicted to “Martin!” To me, “Empire” is even better than that. I think everybody is addicted to Lucious and Cookie!
BGG: What’s the one beauty product you can’t live without?
TS: I have to have NaturaBissé Diamond Cream. It’s a little bourgeois, it’s a little expensive, but I can’t live without it! It’s a moisturizer for the face and it’s just incredible.
“Empire,” airs on Fox Wednesdays at 9pm EST.
What’s your favorite Tasha Smith movie/TV show?