Tika Sumpter Sparkle Tika Sumpter Sparkle

Vixen Chat: Tika Sumpter Dishes on Her Role In 'Sparkle,' Whitney Houston and Her Abs

Tika Sumpter doesn't follow the mold. The singer/actress/model may be easy on the eyes, but she has the talent to shock and awe. In her latest endeavor, Sumpter plays the headstrong pre-med student who treats performing as her side hustle in the 1960s musical flick Sparkle.

Vixen caught up with the multidimensional starlet to talk about her real-life singing family, working with Whitney Houston and maintaining her killer physique.

VIBE VIXEN: When you landed a spot in the cast of Sparkle, what was your initial reaction?
TIKA SUMPTER: I read the script at first and I kept saying I want this part, I wanna be a part of this movie. I put myself on tape and then I had to go to L.A. to meet the producers and all that. When they told me I got it, I was floored. I literally laid on the floor and cried. When you hear that one of your favorite artists is gonna be in the film, you're like, What?! Whitney Houston's gonna play my mom?! So many people auditioned for this film for every part, so I was grateful that I worked hard for it and they gave it to me.

What about the script attracted you the most?
It's just well thought-out. I heard in the original that [my character] Dee [Dolores], she wasn't really relevant in it at first, so with this, I felt like I played a part where she was and she had a voice. She was strong and independent and thinks she knows everything but also loves her family and would do and say anything for them. She's kind of a protector, and I love that about her and her strength. She doesn't really care what people think. She's like, 'Look, I'm gonna do what I'm gonna do even if you don't like it.'

What special preparation did you do for the film?
Well, a good script is 90 percent of the battle, but of course, I looked at the era on YouTube, just people performing like Marvin Gaye, Tammi Terrell, The Supremes and the Marvettes. I did go to Motown, the record company, and the mood just brought you back to that time. I just wanted my character to be well-rounded and intelligent and know what's going on.

What was the most challenging part of playing Dolores?
I don't know if it was challenging but I was scared I wasn't going  to get the choreography [laughs]. The whole performance part is scary. I've done stage stuff before, so it was just that nervousness because it was in such a small amount of time we had to learn everything and record.

Well you nailed it so you don't have to worry about a thing! Any possibility you may take your singing or theatre career further?
Well, I'm doing it right now. I'm recording music and doing a show next month. I've done it before and I wanna do it in a bigger way, and this is the perfect storm for me to do it. No artist is just one thing. Actors wanna sing, singers wanna act, and I'm not gonna allow anybody to put me in a box because I'm from a singing family. My mom sings opera; my sisters were trained by my mom. It's just something that's in my family so why not use the gift that God gave me to show the world and share it?

It's kinda like art imitates life. You actually grew up in a real-life Sparkle family.
Ah, you're so right! And my mom loves going to red carpets with me so it's perfect.

What did you learn working from your on-screen mom Whitney?

VV: What did you learn working from your on-screen mom Whitney Houston?
TS: There's so many little nuggets, but one, always be humble. She has every right to not be if she didn't wanna be, like you know, she's Whitney Houston! That's what you would think but she's the opposite of what a diva would be. [I also learned to] just show humility and be open to learning. She was so vulnerable. She knew that this story kind of paralleled with hers and she was just an outstanding person. It's usually the people who act like they're ridiculously fantastic who've done the least and she's done a lot [but] is still the most humble person ever. She was happy to be there on set.

One thing I loved about your character was that she broke from the group to pursue medical school and music at the same, so she didn't really dabble with any guys. But if the script was changed and Dee was romantically involved with one of the male co-stars, who do you think she would've chosen?
[Laughs] That's such a funny question! Everybody's like, 'Dolores doesn't have a man,' and I'm like, 'Her man is her books!' They would have to write in a new character. Maybe we could take somebody from the original. It definitely wouldn't be Satin 'cause she would not even have that!

How about Levi?
Maybe in the beginning with how he was, but I don't know if Levi's her type. We would have to create a new character.

Another thing the fans are going to notice are your to-die-for abs. What is your secret?
Oh God, girl! I was in that gym trying my hardest 'cause when I saw those outfits, [I was like] 'Why am I in these ones like this?' and they were like, 'Because you have the figure to do it.' I was in the gym, trying to eat healthy and work out at least three times a week, but I'm definitely not as committed as the athletes in the Olympics. I wish I was!

Sparkle hits theaters Aug. 17.

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Aaliyah during TNT Presents - A Gift of Song - New York - January 1, 1997 in New York City, New York, United States.
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Fans Rally For Aaliyah's Discography To Be Released On Streaming Platforms

As another day passes without Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms, fans are looking for answers.

Over the weekend, the hashtag #FreeAaliyahMusic appeared on Twitter in light of song battles between Swizz Beats vs. Timbaland and Ne-Yo vs. Johnta Austin. The latter opponents played their collaborations with the late singer, proving Baby Girl's dynamic relevancy in the age of modern R&B. As songs like "I Don't Wanna" and "Come Over" picked up plays on YouTube, the hashtag pointed out the tragedy of her songs not existing on platforms like Spotify, Tidal and Apple Music.

Aaliyah's only album on multiple platforms is her 1994 debut, Age Ain't Nothing But A Number. Other albums like the platinum-selling One in A Million and Aaliyah are being held in a vault of sorts along with other unmixed vocals by her uncle and founder of Blackground Records, Barry Hankerson.

Hankerson has built up a mysterious yet haunting aura over the years due to his refusal to release Aaliyah's music on streaming platforms. Reasons are unknown but Stephen Witt's 2016 investigation revealed business deals like the shift in distribution from  Jive Records to Atlantic helped Hankerson take ownership of the singer's masters. The deal was made in 1996 when Blackground featured artists like Aaliyah, Toni Braxton, R. Kelly, then-production duo Timbaland and Magoo as well as Missy Elliott.

Sadly, Aaliyah's music isn't the only recordings lost in the shuffle. Recordings from Timbaland and Toni Braxton have been hidden from the world with both taking legal action against the label over the years. There's also JoJo, who had to break from the label after they refused to release her third album. The singer recently re-recorded her first two albums.

With Aaliyah's music getting the attention it deserves, Johnta Austin discussed the singer's impact on R&B today. "It was amazing, she was incredible from top to bottom," he told OkayPlayer of working with the singer on "Come Over" and "I Don't Wanna." "I don't think Aaliyah gets the vocal credit that she deserves. When she was on it, she had the riffs, she had everything."

Earlier this year, an account impersonating Hankerson claimed her music would arrive on streaming platforms January 16, on what would've been her 41st birthday. A docuseries called the Aaliyah Diaries was also promoted for a release on Netflix.

Of course, it was far from the truth. Fans can enjoy selected videos and songs on YouTube, but it's clear they want more.

 

Aaliyah’s music is the landmark for a lot of your favs not only was she ahead of her time with her futuristic sounds she also was a fashion Icon dancer and phenomenal actress . The future generations need be exposed to her artistry and pay homage .#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/LxZfxcqRgF

— Black Clover (@la_alchemist) March 29, 2020

Her first #1 solely based on AirPlay! She was the first ! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/BHlANZjCGZ

— (@hodeciii) March 29, 2020

Makes no sense for someone still so influential to be hidden. Many try to emulate her. On Spotifys This is Aaliyah playlist, theres some great tracks not on her main Spotify #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/vLqLTVxqO9

— Blackity Black⁷ (@ClaudBuzzzz) March 29, 2020

Aaliyah is trending once again. She deserves endless flowers. This is true impact y’all. Her voice, her sound, her music...She’s been gone for 2 decades and y’all see the love for her is even stronger! We miss you baby girl! #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/ALDcT0ZQxR

— A A L I Y A H (@forbbygrlaali) March 30, 2020

Aaliyah said she wanted to be remembered for her music and yet most of it is not on streaming services #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/zwk0AWMCoE

— RJR (@MyNewEssence96) March 29, 2020

aaliyah’s gems like more than a woman deserve to be in streaming sites #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/mM2GWEg1pe

— k (@grandexrocky) March 30, 2020

I saw #FreeAaliyahMusic and IMMEDIATELY jumped into action! I can’t express how betrayed I felt when we were supposed to have all her music on Spotify by her birthday. Her discography is deeply underestimated and we need to make it right for our babygirl!pic.twitter.com/GfxBeJxUY1

— jerrica✨ (@jerricaofficial) March 29, 2020

Before Megan The Stallion drove the boat...

Aaliyah rocked the boat...

#FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/iXNwssD3sY

— Al’Bei (@_albei) March 29, 2020

i think we should have that conversation #FreeAaliyahMusic pic.twitter.com/cGl269tuTr

— AALIYAH LEGION (@AaliyahLegion) April 1, 2020

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Singers Adrienne Bailon (L) and Kiely Williams of the 'Cheetah Girls' pose for photos around Mercedes Benz Fashion Week held at Smashbox Studios on October 18, 2007 in Culver City, California.
Katy Winn/Getty Images for IMG

Kiely Williams Explains Fallout With Adrienne Bailon Houghton And Alleged Fight With Raven-Symonè

Our current isolated way of life has given some plenty of time for reflection like Kiely Williams of the former girl group 3LW and The Cheetah Girls (ask your kids). The tales of both successful groups have been told time after time by fans in YouTube documentaries and members of each collective but Williams has decided to share her side of the story.

Williams hopped on Live Monday (March 30) where she discussed her former friendship with The Real co-host Adrienne Bailon Houghton and the infamous chicken throwing fight with actress/singer Naturi Naughton. The mother of one didn't pinpoint exactly why she fell out with Houghton but did point out how she wouldn't be interested in appearing on her talk show.

"I don't think Adrienne wants to have live TV with me," Williams said. "'Cause she's gon' have to say, 'Yes Kiely, I did pretend to be your best friend. Now, I am not.' You were either lying then or you're lying now. You either were my best friend and now you're just not claiming me or you were pretending [to be my best friend."

The two remained friends after Naughton was kicked out of 3LW, the platinum-selling group known for 2000s pop hits like "No More (Baby I'ma Do Right)" and "Playas Gon' Play." Williams and Houghton were eventually picked to be apart of The Cheetah Girls with then-Disney darling Raven-Symonè and dancer Sabrina Bryan.

Williams went on to discuss her fight with Naughton, which she denies had anything to do with her skin color. With her mother near, Williams claimed Naughton called her a b***h, leading to the fight. While she didn't clear up the chicken throwing, she stated how she was "going for her neck" and was holding food and her baby sister in the process.

Apologies aren't on the horizon either. “I don’t feel like I have anything to make amends for, especially as it relates to Adrienne,” Kiely said. “As far as Naturi goes, if there was ever a reason to apologize, all of that has kind of been overshadowed by the literal lies and really ugly stuff that she said about my mom and my sister. So, no. Not interested in that. I’m sorry.”

Moving onto The Cheetah Girls, Williams also denied claims she got into fights with Raven-Symonè on the set of The Cheetah Girls films and never outed her as a teen. The rumor about Symonè and Williams was reportedly started by Symonè's former co-star Orlando Brown.

Symonè has often shared positive memories about The Cheetah Girls and their reign but did imply during an episode of The View how co-star Lynn Whitfield kept her from losing her cool on set.

On a lighter note, Symonè, Houghton and Naughton have kept in contact with Naughton and Houghton putting their differences aside during an appearance on The Real. 

Symonè and Houghton also reunited at the Women's March in Los Angeles in January. During Bailon's performance at the event, the two briefly performed the Cheetah Girls' classic, "Together We Can."

Willaims also shared some stories about the making of the group's hits. Check out her Live below.

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Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images

Kelis Announces ‘Cooked With Cannabis’ Show Will Premiere On Netflix

Kelis is taking her chef talents to Netflix. The musician will host a food competition show titled Cooked With Cannabis that’ll premiere on the very-fitting April 20 (4/20). According to NME, the show will span six episodes and be co-hosted by chef Leather Storrs.

Describing the opportunity as a “dream come true” since she’s a major supporter of the streaming service, Kelis took to Instagram to share how cannabis and cooking is one of her many creative passions. “As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today’s society,” the mother-of-two writes. “In this country, many things have been used systemically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together.”

Each episode will place three chefs against each other as they craft three-course meals with cannabis as the central ingredient. Each episode’s winner takes home $10,000. Guests will play an integral role in who takes home the cash prize. Too $hort, and El-P are just a few of this season's guests.

 

View this post on Instagram

 

I'm really excited to announce my new show, Cooked with Cannabis on @Netflix!! Anyone that knows me, knows how much I love my Netflix, so this is a dream come true. Interestingly, this was one of those things that I didn't go looking for, it kind of came to me. As a chef, I was intrigued by the food and as an everyday person, I was interested in how powerful this topic is in today's society. In this country, many things have been used systematically to oppress groups of people, but this is so culturally important for us to learn and grow together. I hope you all will tune in, it's definitely going to be a good time! We launch on 4/20! XO, Kelis

A post shared by Kelis (@kelis) on Mar 18, 2020 at 7:57am PDT

In a previous Lenny Letter profile, Kelis shared she comes from a line of culinary influences beginning with her mother who owned a catering service. In 2008, the “Milkshake” singer sought to refine her cooking skills by enrolling in the Le Cordon Bleu school. Receiving a certificate as a trained saucier, the New York native put her expertise to the test during pop-up restaurants in her native city, created a hot sauce line, and co-owns a sustainable farm in Quindio, Colombia.

“Food is revolutionary because it is the one and only international language. It’s the most human thing you can partake in,” she said in an interview with Bon Appetit. “We are the only species that cooks.”

This isn’t Kelis’ first foray into the reality-cooking television world. In 2014, she partnered with the Cooking Channel for Saucy and Sweet and published the "My Life on a Plate" cookbook a year later.

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