Tasha Smith: Survival of the fittest

Tasha Smith’s personal pictures

Even when Tasha Smith is acting she feels like home to Black women. That sister-friend next door that we can always rely on to give it to us straight. Whether she’s breathing life into a sassy heroine or simply playing that no-nonsense girlfriend, her infectious spirit resonates with her loyalists. Now, the actress is contributing to a new anthology, “Family Affair,” edited by Gil Robertson, which shares her personal concept of the true meaning of family. ESSENCE.com caught up with the fiery beauty to discuss why she’s still living single, how the President and First Lady’s relationship have inspired her, and why she’s excited about her directorial debut.

ESSENCE.COM: So Ms. Tasha, you are officially an essayist now after contributing to “Family Affair.” Why did you choose to be a part of this project?
I wanted to be a part of the voice of the book and to talk about what family means to the Black community and the empowerment that it gives each of us as individuals to have a home base and sense of belonging.

ESSENCE.COM: What is your definition of family?
When I speak of family I immediately think of a support system who can give you a reality check when you need it; a mirror reflection of myself. I believe that we are a result of our family—the people who encourage us and tell us the truth about who we are which helps us to grow through their advice and wisdom.

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ESSENCE.COM: Well, they say sometimes you can’t help who your family is, but thank goodness we have some say in the life partners we choose. Speaking of which, how has your dating life been since your divorce?
Look at me—I’m a single Black woman. I’ve dated a few different guys for the last couple of years since my divorce and all I can say is that it’s been very interesting. What I’ve found is that so many men, not all but more than not, are oversexed and stimulated. I believe that when the time is right God will bless me with the right man, but I can’t help but ask, why am I still single. But when I think about all the things I hear that some of these women are doing for men in the bedroom it’s not hard to figure out why. There are so many women going above and beyond to get men that the average woman, like myself, who is not open to performing some of these [sexual deeds], can’t compete with that because that’s not the woman that I am. What happened to the old-school daze when men were willing to date and get to know you. A lot of these sisters make it hard for the rest of us. My grandmother had like 16 kids and never had a problem keeping her man. I’m sure she wasn’t doing all these flips and tricks to get a man and I bet you our First Lady didn’t do that to get her President either (laughs).

ESSENCE.COM: (Laughs.) We hear you. Do you think President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama’s relationship has inspired Black women and men to dream an impossible dream of having a strong Black family?
I hope and pray that when we look at the President and First Lady that our Black men are going to want meaningful and long-lasting relationships. There was a time—and I believe it still kind of is—that men weren’t trying to settle down. You look around and you have all these single Black women hooking up with men who aren’t trying to commit. That has a lot to do with what these men have been exposed to and witnessed, and often those are the players, broken and “open” relationships, which sends the message that the level of commitment is not there. Now that we have a true leader who stands for family and has a loving relationship with his wife, maybe Black men and women will follow their example. We have a lot of faith and trust in President Obama because his integrity thus far has shown us a new level of manhood, fatherhood and husbandhood. As Black women, we need step up our game and heal in our hearts so that we are able to receive and recognize a good man when God sends him so when we connect we will have the family that God always intended us to have.

ESSENCE.COM: Yes, Black love is a beautiful thing. Well, before you leave, we hear you are making your directorial debut. Is that true?
First of all, President Obama’s election has taught us to stop being paralyzed by excuses and given us a floodgate of hope. I’m more daring and going after things that I once thought were not possible. So, yes, it’s true that I’ll be sitting in the director’s chair (laughs). The film is called “Family” and I’ve been laboring over it on and off again with the producers. Finally, everything seems to be working out wonderfully. It’s about two brothers who are raised by their father: one has a tragic demise while the other deals with a mental illness. Through their family tragedy you see this amazing journey as each of them deals with internal and external obstacles. I don’t think there are enough stories told about Black men and their relationships and how they build and bond with one another. Although I’m single, I have so many wonderful male friends and family members in my life that I wanted to be able to share at least one of their powerful stories.