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Tangi Miller: Love and the Career-Driven Woman

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Who needs a groom when you’ve got a wedding planner? There are some women who live for the day they’ll jump the broom and put more stock in the ceremony than a suitable lifetime beau. When Tangi Miller heard the story of a successful acquaintance who planned an elaborate wedding with friends and family but had no future hubby, she was inspired to produce and star in the romantic dramedy, Love and Other Four Letter Words. Essence.com caught up with the veteran actress to discuss the film and what single successful woman can do to find and maintain love.

Essence.com: Congrats on this new film, Tangi! Your character Stormy LaRue lies about her getting married to her grandmother on her death bed. But when grandma lives Stormy fakes an engagement with a hired stripper. What inspired this tall-tale?

Tangi Miller:
My friend went to a wedding of a woman I knew in passing. The lady told her family and friends that she was about to get married. People bought wedding dresses, family came to town, she had bridesmaids and there was no groom. She was so together and you never would have thought things would turn out like that. It turned into a comedy in my head from that serious situation.

Essence.com: Wow that is a crazy story! She was there in her dress and everything?

T.M.:
Yes girl, there in her dress and delusional with no husband. That story stayed with me and I thought, What would ever make me lie and say I was getting married? And then I thought of my grandmother whose whole thing is seeing me married before she dies.

Essence.com: This film addresses the strong independent woman who looks up to see she has the career and no personal life. What should women take from this?

T.M.:
I want to begin a conversation about relationships and love. The grandmother says in the movie, At the end of your days you’re not going to wish you worked extra hours at work. If love is something you want, you definitely need to make it a priority in your life early enough so it doesn’t feel desperate or you are worried about your eggs drying up (laughs)!

Essence.com: (Laughs) Now, are you speaking from experience?

T.M.:
Love is one of those things that needs to be on the priority list if you want it to manifest. In my life it wasn’t on my list. It was, ‘I want to go to this country’, ‘I want to do this’ but love was nowhere to be found. And of course, if you don’t put it out there it’s certainly not going to happen. I’ve had actresses say to me, ‘I just thought it would happen, and it never happened, and I’m 50 and I don’t want it to happen to you.’ It’s a real thing. It’s wonderful to grow with somebody and find a life partner, so there is a reason to stay.

Essence: And the life partner for Stormy turns out to be her childhood friend Reverend Arnold “Peanut” Peterson [played by Flex Alexander] from back home.

T.M.:
There’s a Peanut in my life now and had I been open to the situation, prepared and appreciative of that, I would be married now. I think we run for our careers. That’s not a bad thing, but we need to be aware and say to our daughters, what there is to expect at the end of the day because you might want to walk with a Peanut. My sister married her high school sweetheart and they have three children together and grew together. It’s beautiful and rare. It’s definitely not for everyone but should be on the mind, on the radar with your dreams. I believe there is a way to have it all. You just have to plan it right.

Essence: How was it working with Flex?

T.M.: Oh my gosh, you just want to marry him for real. He is the bomb and so wonderful. He is that guy. Shanice is so lucky. We did the movie with a low budget and he never complained. He’s a beautiful spirit and a great leading man.

Essence: In the film you also include some meddlesome cousins who stir up trouble and would love to bring Stormy down a notch. How do you manage those people in your life?

T.M.:
Those haters that love you but you don’t really know where to put them? (laughs) You keep them close enough not to kill you but close enough so you know what they are up to. Sometimes they happen to be family so they aren’t going anywhere anyway. The bottom line is people love you, admire you, and envy you all at the same time. It’s a very human thing to be jealous. You just pray on it and pray for that person and wish blessings on their lives.

Essence: You were in wedding dresses twice in this movie. How was that?

T.M.:
I felt like I needed to get married to be quite honest. So I was going through a lot but it did make me romanticize about the day that I would do that. I hope and pray we can shine a little more value on relationships with this story. It’s obviously not easy because people aren’t staying together. As a community, we should respect when people try and make that work. Otherwise, in 50 years, what kind of families are we going to have? It’s a serious issue not just for Black people but America. We need to work on relationships.

Essence.com: Now you starred as the lead character and served as the film’s producer . How was it were multiple hats?

T.M.:
I was going from ‘So what are we having for lunch?’ to trying to stay in character. Playing Stormy, who was a producer like me, I was going crazy trying to keep up with everything. But it was bananas. As we work on my next film, My Girlfriend’s Back, I am setting it up so I don’t have so many responsibilities when we shoot. People really identify with this story, a woman who is a workaholic and has to re-evaluate her love life and I love that.

Essence.com: So what else do you and Stormy have in common?

T.M.:
Ironically about a year or two after beginning the story, my grandmother was on her deathbed, and I said to myself, I wonder if I told her I’m getting married if she would live. This whole story was haunting me. My grandmother passed and I felt compelled to tell this story as a tribute to her and all the old-school mothers who push us in that direction of settling down. If love is something you want make it a priority in your life.

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