Tamela Mann Shares Why She Was “Really Nervous” to Join “The Color Purple”

·4 min read
Photo credit: Paras Griffin - Getty Images
Photo credit: Paras Griffin - Getty Images

Grammy-winning gospel artist Tamela Mann will soon dazzle in the upcoming star-studded remake of The Color Purple, but she continues to challenge herself and break new ground in all areas of her life. Recently, she set a new record on Billboard's Gospel Airplay Chart after racking up nine No. 1 singles, making her the first gospel artist ever to do so (more on that later). She also launched The Tamela Mann Collection, an athleisure and shapewear line catering to curvy women.

Through singing her heart out at church, the Fort Worth, Texas, native made a name for herself by appearing in several of Tyler Perry's beloved projects, including Madea Goes to Jail and Meet the Browns alongside her husband, David Mann. Currently, the dynamic couple, who have been married for over three decades, can be spotted in Perry’s Assisted Living and on their personal YouTube channel, MANNTV, where they give fans a look into their relationship and familial dynamics on a more personal level. Not to mention, they're in the middle of their Overcomer tour, a concert and comedy show that promises an evening full of "joy and inspiration."

Mann’s latest album, Overcomer, arrived on July 22. It captivates listeners through back-to-back heartfelt vocal performances and lyrics that serve as a reminder not only of the importance of faith but also of one's own resilience. Overcomer even encouraged Mann to step out of her comfort zone as an artist.

“Initially, I felt like the things that I had to say didn't make sense, or people wouldn't like it. And I've been proven wrong, that there are things that I can say, and that come from my heart that can really help and bless somebody else,” Mann tells Oprah Daily. "What I want people to walk away with from this album lies within the title itself, Overcomer—that we can overcome whatever obstacles we're facing in our lives, that things can get better. Even when things get rough and we can't see the light of day, we can still finish the work we started. What I mean by that is we start a lot of things in life, then it becomes like, I'm getting too old, but we can conquer and complete the task at hand. There's hope still."

Mann recently sat down with Oprah Daily to give us the scoop on how she got a coveted part in The Color Purple remake, as well as her blossoming friendship with Oprah.

How did you nab a role in the upcoming The Color Purple remake?

My husband, David, got a call from Tyler Perry, who said, "Can you send over some footage of Tamela for the people to see? Because Oprah is over there fighting for her to have this part, and she needs them to see who Tamela Mann is." I was hollering and so excited but also really nervous because people know me for singing, not dancing. But I went in with the heart and mindset of I can do this. Oprah visited the set, and she brought such a nice, pleasant spirit to the set. She took pictures with everybody, all the extras. She made everyone feel special. After I finished my part, I texted her saying, "I hope I made you proud." She was like, "You sure did." I thank God for Ms. Winfrey and for her just mentioning my name and believing in me.

In July, you performed at the funeral of Oprah’s late father, Vernon Winfrey. What was that experience like for you?

Man, it was amazing, but first, he was an amazing man. [After Mr. Winfrey's passing], I reached out to Oprah and when she called me back, I was shocked. She was like, "Yes, I would like for you to come." I was just really grateful to help to send her father home, and I was just happy to be part of the celebration of his life, because hearing all the testimonials of how he helped so many people, [I know that] he was a wonderful man.

You now have the most No. 1 singles on Billboard's Gospel Airplay Chart, surpassing Kirk Franklin, who you previously tied at eight. Has the gospel genre changed in terms of opportunities for women?

It's always rough sometimes for us ladies in the music industry, or whatever industry you're in. We've always got to fight extra to make things happen, but I'm excited to just keep going and encouraging my daughters and granddaughters and other young ladies that we can do it. You've got to stand up for yourself and fight this fight, letting the naysayers know that us ladies can do the job, whatever job that is.

This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.

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