‘We like to be around each other all the time’
QUESTIONS & ANSWERS: DAVID & TAMELA MANN
BY KIMBERLY BAILEY-TUREAUD
Throughout television and theater history, entertainment impresario Tyler Perry will forever be credited with introducing audiences to the talents of David and Tamela Mann. The husband-and-wife comedy duo are best known for Meet the Browns,” which propelled them to opportunities on several platforms: Soon to air on Bounce Television, the new series “Mann & Wife”; a cooking show called “Hanging with the Manns”; and the BET reality series “It’s a Mann’s World.” In an exclusive interview with Las Vegas Black Image, the power couple shared insight on life, love, family and career.
Tell us about “Mann & Wife.”
David: It is about an undercover officer named Daniel Mann, played by me — and his wife Toni, played by Tamela.
Tamela: My character is a teacher with two daughters, who moves from Texas to Atlanta to marry my new husband and be with his two sons. Once I arrive in Atlanta to start my new life with a blended family, I discover that my mother-in-law also lives with us. That in itself is an adventure.
David: What we are trying to do is to successfully blend this family together. So that right there is a task. When you have teenage boys and teenage girls, and you are trying to blend all of that, is a serious challenge and makes for great television.
Tamela: My girls didn’t want to leave Texas, so they are bitter to be in Atlanta and really want to go back.
David: I am trying to figure out how to become the girls’ dad, and Tamela’s character is trying to figure out how to be a mother to my two boys. It is all very interesting commentary.
What are some differences in comedic nuance between “Mann & Wife” and “Meet the Browns”?
David: One thing that will be different will be the clothes I wear. You will still see a similar comedic timing in the many characters I play. For example, I will play a Nigerian while going undercover as a cop. It is so funny, and you will still see me do what I do from a comedic standpoint — but minus the clothes.
We know that you were recently in Las Vegas for the Stellar Awards for gospel music. Did the church environment play a role in developing your characters?
David: Yes, you can find some funny stuff in the church. I am not going to say anything in particular. (laughs).
Tamela: Well, for some of us who grew up in the church, we would mock some of the older people in the church. How they would do their holy dance, and just different things they would do. Of course, David took some of that…
David: And put it on the stage (laughing).
Do you think that is how Tyler Perry developed some of his characters from what he experienced in the black church?
David: Yes, I think some of it comes from the church.
What influenced the development of your character, Mr. Brown?
David: I developed the character, Mr. Brown, from watching several older guys who I knew in my community back in the day.
So you had creative license?
David: Yes, a whole lot from the clothes to the antics of the physical comedy. Everything.
Tamela, how are you balancing family, career, life, wife, mother and being a grandmother?
Tamela: I take it one day at a time. But when it comes to family — that is at the top of my to-do list. I try to make sure when I am home that my family has my undivided attention. But when I am focusing on work, I focus on work. I even tell my grandchildren that I may be gone for a short while, and I give them an explanation when I travel for work. I don’t have to give them an explanation, but I want to. Even my children receive a talk when I go out of town for work. We are a very dysfunctional family. We like to be around each other all the time. It’s the craziest thing.
David: It’s a weird dynamic of our family. We have to be together all the time. This past Sunday we gathered everyone together and hung out at the arcade.
What is your advice to black couples on keeping a marriage happily ever after?
Tamela: I think it is important to always incorporate family-oriented things into your life. It’s like “Little House on the Prairie.” Family means everything, and it is all you have.
David: When you are talking about our marriage, one thing that works for us is liking each other. You have to like each other, because so many married people are married, but not necessarily liking each other.
Tamela: Liking each other makes working with one another so much better. If you enjoy what you are doing, and you are building it together — life is great. Everything we have built together makes us appreciate it even more.
How do you keep the romance going in your life and do you have date nights?
David: Our life is a date night (laughs).
Tamela: We are always together.
David: We are on the road and different hotels all the time. Yeah, we have date night and we are kissing right now (laughs).
Tamela: I try to give him a new lady all the time in me. I might change my hair or try a different look.
David: I can’t change my hair (laughs).
When they heard we would be talking to you today, one of our readers called David “a fine chocolate man.”
David: Stop, you are making me blush.
What’s been the best thing about your successful entertainment career?
David & Tamela (speaking at once): We get to do it together!
David: We get to experience all of this together. We travel the world at somebody else’s expense. We have traveled to places we would have never imagined going, and we have been doing it together.
What has been the worst thing about your entertainment career?
David: We were unaware of the fact that we had to sacrifice our children and we have been away from them a lot. I had to explain to my daughter that some parents work downtown and we work out of town. We have missed a lot of activities and school events. That has been the worst part about this industry.
How would you describe Tyler Perry?
Tamela: Like any other boss.
David: You are expected to come to work, do your job and be happy.
Tamela: He is a hard worker.
David: His work ethic is second to none. He is a creative genius.
What is something about the two of you as a couple that will surprise your fans?
David: We are licensed concealed weapon carriers. We are licensed to carry concealed weapons and a lot of people don’t know this.
Will you be promoting diabetes-sensitive recipes on your new cooking show?
David: We address a little bit of everything. We have shot ten episodes and there is a show dedicated to healthy living, eating and going to the doctor for your check-ups.
What is your secret for raising healthy and happy children?
David: Just love them and make sure to give them attention. That is what children want: your undivided attention.