"Gossip Girl"'s newest star Tika Sumpter talks about being Hollywood's new It girl, her journey to success, and what she's looking forward to.
You've recently burst onto the scene of television's most popular shows -- what's the journey been like for you?
I always knew I wanted to act when I was younger. I'd watch shows like "The Cosby Show" and think to myself, 'I want to do that.' I went on all types of casting calls and ended up really researching what I needed to do to make it in this industry. Ultimately, I had a boss who introduced me to a freelance agent and it took off from there.
What was your first big role and what did you love most about it?
Well, it wasn't a role, but a commercial for a perfume called Curve. I just remember being so excited, I was happy to work. Also, getting my first contract role on "One Life to Live" was a pretty big deal as well.
Speaking of new roles, you're currently starring on the CW hit "Gossip Girl" and are really the show's first star of color. What's the process been like for you?
I love working on "Gossip Girl." It's such a big show and you don't realize it until you're actually doing it. I've gotten positive feedback from so many people and I really love the character. I hope she sticks around!
Out of all the roles you've played so far, which one do you relate to the most?
...My "One Life to Live," "Gossip Girl" and "The Game" characters have allowed me to play women of strength. Those characters have all had their lows, but they manage to wrap the pieces back together.
What keeps you motivated?
The feedback from my fans definitely keeps me motivated. I love reading messages from them on social media forums or letters. It's inspiring. Also, looking back on the timeline of my life, I remember thinking, 'How am I going to get [t]here; how am I going to get on television?' and now here I am. I know at the end of the day that the purpose of this is bigger than me.
What words of advice can you give to aspiring actresses out there?
You need to know the difference between being a celebrity and being famous. If you want to be a celebrity, you can do a reality show, but if you want to be famous then you have to do the work; you have to be excellent at your skill. Take the classes and do whatever takes to be excellent. There are a million pretty faces out there, but it will only take you so far.
Looking down the road 20 years from now, where would you ultimately like your career to be?
I hope to be doing more film and maybe musical theater. I want to have a solid, consistent career. I never want it to be flimsy. I always want to have something to offer.