First time mom-to-be Tika Sumpter looked radiant in white while attending the Chicago premiere of her new Michelle & Barack Obama love story movie, Southside With You. The gorgeous and talented actress walked the red carpet and posed alongside her co-star Parker Sawyer who plays Barack and executive producer John Legend.
This movie could be the breakout role for the Gossip Girl alum who, up until now, has been known for supporting roles alongside Kevin Hart in the Ride Along movies or other small screen roles. She also stars on the OWN Network hit show The Haves and Have Nots.
The film is a fictional portrayal of the first date of the president and First Lady back in 1989 when President Obama was a Harvard Law Student and a community organizer and Michelle was an associate in a big Chicago law firm. And from watching the trailer, we must say that Sumpter got inflection down pack. It was part of her plan.
“I wanted to make sure you heard inflections of Michelle,” she told Nylon magazine in an August feature. “I studied every word, how she curved her tongue, how she kind of sings when she talks.” The result is a carefully drawn and recognizable portrait of Michelle Robinson, an ambitious and whip-smart lawyer who would go on to become one of the world’s most famous women, Nylon summarized.
It did well at the Sundance Film festival earlier this year. The film wasn’t sanctioned by the White House. The film’s screenwriter and producer Richard Tanne said the White House was “aware and slightly puzzled” by the existence of the film, but officials there did verify locations and the menu of their first date.
This is just but one of a plethora of untold stories of historic African American figures yet to hit the big or small screen. Sumpter also jumped in early as one of the producers .
“The great part about being a producer is you’re in the room when decisions are made,” she added, especially given that good roles are so hard to come by for black female actresses. “Usually, there aren’t any black people in the room…I’m in a place where I want to create because these characters aren’t being written for me.”
And she plans to do more.
“I have stories I want to tell,” she says. “My thing is making sure women know how dope they are, regardless of what the story is.”
She didn’t reveal who her boyfriend and father of her child is to the interviewer but did say he is also a lawyer who is mature, and representing the Obamas in her new film, Sumpter says they are “Relationship goals.” Sumpter also accidentally revealed she is having a baby girl on a radio show while promoting the film.
The New York Times did a write up recently too, revealing that, to prepare the actress worked with a vocal coach to master Mrs. Obama’s speech patterns, and watched videos to see how she walked and carried herself.
“Once we started rehearsing,” said Mr. Sawyers, “I was like, oh, that’s it! She nailed it.”
In one scene, Michelle talks about the racism she encountered at Princeton and Harvard — some subtle, some less so — and how, even at her current firm, she has to navigate between “Planet Black and Planet White.” Ms. Sumpter admitted that there were parallels in her own field. “You see the differences in the way certain movies are treated,” she said. “But once you come to terms with that, you have to go, O.K., I’m not going to allow that to hold me back. Which is what I love about Michelle. She never allowed the color of her skin and all the things she was up against to keep her from breaking through.”
A lot of that confidence came from Mrs. Obama’s family, just as it did for Ms. Sumpter, who is expecting her own daughter this fall. “Because of my mom, I never felt less than,” she said, looking back on her early days trying to make it in the business. “I never came into this world thinking, I’m a brown-skinned girl going to Hollywood. I was always like, I’m talented and I’m beautiful and I’m smart. Why wouldn’t you want me?”
The movie opens this Friday, August, 26 nationwide. Date night movie for sure!
Photos: Miramax, Twitter, Starcast