This weekend, moviegoers flocked to theaters to watch Tyler Perry’s newest silver screen installment “Why Did I Get Married Too.” Perry reunited the same unforgettable cast from his first installment to bring the next chapter in the turbulent but loving lives of four couples trying to understand the hardships and happiness of marital life. Similar to the first film, Janet Jackson and her girls Jill Scott, Tasha Smith, and Sharon Leal struggle with divorce, insecurity, self-identity, and infidelity, while stirring our hearts and making us laugh. ESSENCE.com sat down with Scott, Smith, and Leal to discuss and how Perry fills a much-needed void in Hollywood, what makes Black relationships fail, and all sorts of love drama. ESSENCE.com: Tyler Perry does a good job representing Black love on film. What specifically is the most frustrating thing about how Hollywood portrays Black love? JILL SCOTT: I don’t think it’s balanced. There are so many love stories in a year like “The Notebook,” but we don’t really see Black love stories. So, when we do see them we hold on to them for dear life. Like “Love and Basketball…” TASHA SMITH: That’s what annoys me the most, because we don’t see it. Back in the day, we had “Love Jones” and “Jason’s Lyric,” we don’t see that many movies like that today. I wish filmmakers would write more about Black love, the same way we get to see it for other races. SHARON LEAL: Black love on film never gets enough time to go from A to Z, so you end up seeing a stereotypical portrayal of what Black love is. You go to White films, and you really get to know these characters’ distinct personalities, how they are or aren’t compatible, and it’s really a well-rounded exploration of two people and how their love works and whether it survives. A full picture and interpretation of how these two people love. SCOTT: I would love to see a movie like “Closer” with an all Black cast. I want to see more of us, I want things to get tricky, I don’t want to see flat love stories. It’s not all about the sex, or her booty, or his money. We don’t see families represented in our community. Shit, there are one or two fathers in a four-block radius. It’s serious, so our art has to represent and show what Black love actually is, because we are losing it. ESSENCE.com: So, ideally, what would you all like to see? SCOTT: I want to see more diverse stories. I want to see someone fall in love from the moment they see each other. I need to see a couple that doesn’t have sex because they want to get to know each other better. I want to see her starving for it, and for him to say no. Can I see a film where she’s pregnant and he’s actually happy? ESSENCE.com: Let’s address the issues your characters face in your roles. Tasha, you and Marcus are at it again! Do you feel like Blacks are addicted to relationship drama? SMITH: I don’t think that Black people in relationships are addicted to drama. I mean, look at what is going on with Sandra Bullock. It’s not like drama is only within the Black community. We can talk about Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Aniston when she was with Vince Vaughn, Alec Baldwin when he was with Kim Basinger–they’ve all had drama, too. When we see drama within a Black relationship, we act like we are the only ones with drama. That’s not true, White people have drama too! ESSENCE.com: Your character Angela seems to be fond of makeup to breakup, is that healthy? SMITH: Whatever it takes to keep the relationship. How can we say it’s unhealthy, if they are able to stay together? For some people, like Angela and Marcus in the film, their dysfunction is functional. ESSENCE.com: Sharon and Tasha, insecurity and infidelity played a major part in the challenges you both faced in your on-screen marriages… SMITH: The root of insecurity is fear, and fear is false evidence that seems real. Fear will distort the mind, pervert the thinking, and show you something that is not really there. It twists your perception of things. It’s a dangerous place to be. When a woman is always questioning, thinking something is wrong, that will sabotage a relationship. LEAL: In the film, my character’s marriage to Terry (Tyler Perry) was written so that he’s such a wonderful, fabulous husband. He is so in tune with his wife. When Terry says to his wife, “I know your heartbeat,” you know that is someone who really loves you. You’re not going to get away with cheating on a man like him. In the movie, there was no proof of infidelity from my character, but it raises the question, what exactly is a betrayal? ESSENCE.com: Well, what is betrayal? LEAL: It depends on the people involved. What is your mate bringing to the table? You have to least match and bring to him what he brings you. If you have a really flirty husband, it’s like “hey you’re flirting, I’m going to get my flirt on, too.” That’s okay. But, if you have a man like Terry in the movie, that worships the ground his wife walks on, then she is going to have to give him more. SMITH: You have to stay rooted in trust and love, and not mess up relationships over things we think are happening rather than the truth. ESSENCE.com: Why is there such a double standard on the severity of the situation when a woman cheats? LEAL: Men walk around all day flirting. For us, we’re like, “As long as he doesn’t sleep with her, I know he’s coming home to me.” Whereas, in this film, [when the woman gets] the slightest bit of attention or is the least bit flattered by it, any reciprocation is considered wrong. I don’t know what that is. It all goes along with how a powerful female leader, or a strong career-minded woman, is considered a bitch. It is a double standard. Men can get away with a lot more, causing our whole morale to be called into question. ESSENCE.com: Jill, your character is the opposite of Tasha’s, Sheila is too nurturing, and supportive to a fault. Is that possible? SCOTT: Absolutely. I’ve put all my love and energy into a person, but if they don’t have the potential to grow, if they have a poor work ethic, then you’re wasting your time. Your putting all that energy into a bottomless pit. I used to pray to find a man with potential, but now my prayers changed. I don’t want to find a man with just potential, I want to find someone who has accomplished something in their life. I want to hear him say, “I’m tired because I did this, this, and that,” my response will be a cheer, a pound, and some good loving… ESSENCE.com: Can a man focus on a relationship when he isn’t where he wants to be in life? SCOTT: A man needs to feel proud of himself. There is a fundamental difference between men and women. We are different, women know how to buckle down. If all we have is potatoes, we know how to make potato soup, potato souffle, french fries, baked potatoes, home fries… Men have to have things a certain way, if it’s messed up, as much as we want to offer support, they don’t want it. ESSENCE.com: So, there is no point in being an extra supportive cheerleader when things get tough? SCOTT: We need to follow the lead. If he’s showing you he’s uncomfortable with his situation, then fall back. Sometimes women want to speak their peace to someone when times are tough, and then want to hold on so hard. Fall back, and if he comes back then he is yours. ESSENCE.com: What about when children are involved and are the glue to hold a relationship together? LEAL: I’m not an advocate of that, it can be really damaging. It’s wonderful when a couple can stay together, because all kids want their mom and dad to be together. But it’s unfair to both spouses to stay together simply to create an illusion that everything is in tact. That’s living a lie, and children are perceptive, so it becomes unhealthy. Children need to feel that their parents are happy. I think you can split, and keep the dialogue open, and things amicable for the sake of the children. ESSENCE.com: Each of you question the status of your relationship in the movie. What do you feel is the top reason that relationships fail? SMITH: People let their friends get in their business. (All laugh) We have to stop allowing our girlfriends, parents, and other people get into our relationships. We have to be the authority. Not that we shouldn’t allow other people to speak about our lives, but people aren’t always happy for you and your relationship. People sometimes have their own personal motives. For example, your girlfriend may like hanging with you because you’re the life of the party, but as soon as get in a relationship, they try to sabotage it because they don’t have a girlfriend to go to the club with anymore. Or, they’re at home lonely and mad because you’re at the movies with your man. We have to start keeping our relationship private, close-knit, and protected. You follow me? LEAL: Lack of trust, at least in my life. I cannot be with someone that is possessive or suspicious. If a man even glances over at my phone, I’m pissed. (Laughs) I like my own space, and I don’t understand the need to do all of that. I would never do that to someone else, I can try to control a man all day long, and if he wants to do something, that’s on him. You have to know you can’t control a man. SCOTT: We don’t have enough positive examples of what a good relationship is. It’s not always going to be cute, it’s not always going to be fun. If you really love each other, you work for it, you grind in it, and make it a point to continue to love each other. Read more:
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