Top photo: Getty/ Inset photo: Bounce TV
by Twins of Media
NAACP Image Award-winning actress and producer, Terri Vaughn directs and stars in an all new episode of Mann & Wife airing on Tuesday, May 16 at 9 pm ET on Bounce. Read more of her story here↓
Discuss your character Lieutenant Tate on Mann & Wife. What attracted you to the role?
She is first of all funny which attracted me to the role. I love comedy. I love sitcoms. I love this genre of acting. When the opportunity came and Mann & Wife co-creator Roger Bobb told me about the part—that she would be the boss of David Mann and Tony Rock’s character I knew it was going to be a lot of fun with a lot of comedy so it was really a no-brainer for me to say yes.
Tell us your experience directing the upcoming episode of Mann & Wife?
I am very grateful to Roger Bobb for agreeing to let me direct an episode! That’s huge for them to say yes and give an opportunity for a female woman of color to be able to direct an episode on a television show. I’m grateful for the opportunity and just knowing this genre of acting and television (comedy) which is my absolute favorite. It’s a genre I’ve been in for over twenty years now; I felt comfortable with the opportunity and I have a long relationship with David, Tamela and Tony. I know their work and what they can do in a comedy sitcom. Directing the episode was awesome and the challenge is what I wanted—which was to be stretched as an artist in a new craft and to hone in on the directing part of it and what all that intel like the preproduction and prepping. I was happy to be able to challenge myself to do it.
Are you going to direct more episodes in the future?
Oh yeah, absolutely! I’m actually in the middle of preproduction for a film that I am directing in Atlanta in the next couple of weeks so, yes, directing is definitely a hat that I am wearing now in conjunction with acting and producing.
[Fan question from Vannessa Wade] Do you feel the need to reinvent yourself to stay relevant in the industry and if so, how?
I don’t know if it’s so much of reinventing myself because I still feel like I am the same person, I just feel like you have to grow. I feel like we all have so much potential and that it’s easy to get comfortable once you have had success in one area and to ride that out until you retire, and not stretch yourself because it’s scary, especially if you have had success in one area where people see you as that and you gain fans from that success, and to now put yourself in a situation where you’re being challenged with something new where people are watching and if you mess this up there is no telling what people are going to say about you but that’s what you have to do, you have to grow and be willing to put yourself out there and just grow as an artist. So, I think it’s more growing than reinventing and just continuing to challenge yourself and it is a challenge and a whole new brain space to even study and prep for.
How does Terri Vaughn balance acting, producing and directing with a family? How do you spend your downtime with loved ones?
That’s always a catch 22 question. I don’t know if you balance it. I think that when I’m at home and in mommy mode I have to put everything else down and I have to just do that. Like when I work on my to-do list and my two-year-old is screaming for me to get her out of the highchair or get her a popsicle or sing a song with her or dance…you know, you just have to put everything down work related and just do what needs to be done, and when she goes to bed and the house is quiet and my fifteen-year-old is done with his homework and my nine-year has taken his shower and has gone to bed, you then find yourself up late at night finishing your work and, again, you just kind of do that. You lose sleep like a lot of working mothers <laughs>, but it’s sometimes the only way to fit everything in. You have to pay attention to what’s in front of you, and then on the other hand when I am at work; acting or directing or whatever it is that I am doing… I’m focused on work, I’m not there at home helping with the homework and all that kind of stuff and that’s where I am really blessed to have a supportive husband and a supportive village that helps and is there with the kids when I can’t be; where I feel comfortable being on set. It took a while for me not to feel guilty about that but I am in a good space now and I don’t feel guilty at all; I feel really blessed to be able to have a career and do what I love to do and I am so blessed to have a healthy, happy family and I wouldn’t give either one of them up.
What advice would you give to young girls that want to follow in your footsteps?
First all to study your craft. I feel like a lot of people just want to jump in…to be hooked up in the entertainment industry without putting in the ground work. It’s not an easy business— it’s a tough business, but if this is what you want to do, you just have to know that it’s tough and it doesn’t mean that you give up. You have to say, “Let me keep going, let me keep studying, let me keep going on these auditions and making the connects because it’s never ending.” I have been in this business twenty years and I am in my forties and it’s still freaking tough, but I have so much time invested in the game so what else am I going to do? I can’t quit, it’s not an option at all. Yes, it’s a tough business, but you just know that going in so you roll up your sleeves and get with it.
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