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October 2005
The Gospel : An Interview with Tamyra Gray

The Gospel : An Interview with Tamyra Gray

By Wilson Morales

After coming in 4th place and getting widespread recognition in the first American Idol, Tamyra Gray hit the ground running not only as a singer but as an actor; and the first show to cast this talent was the now-cancelled Boston Public, where Gray had a recurring role. Since then she's appeared on other series and shows, and recently released her debut album, "The Dreamer". The shows have paved the way for Gray to be cast as Rain Walker in the upcoming film, "The Gospel". Gray plays a choir singer who's romantically involved with the son of the pastor while dealing with the return of her ex-husband and father of her child. In speaking with blackfilm.com, Gray goes over what the film means to her and discusses her career so far.

How did you get into "The Gospel"?

Tamyra Gray: I was on vacation actually and I had came off the plane and my agent called me and said that there was a script that I needed to read immediately and that they needed an answer by the next day because the they (the producers) wanted me to be in it. Automatically, and no auditions, which I was really shocked about, I read the script and I just loved the concept of it and I signed on immediately. The funny thing about it was that it seemed that it was meant to be because everything about this movie, from it being filmed in my hometown to it actually using the church I went to; Victory was my church when I lived here in Atlanta and so Victory is the church that becomes the new faith of new revelation; and they also used my choir. When I got here and realized what's going on, it seemed like it was meant for me to do this.

Had you taken on any acting roles prior to this?

TG: I had done a few TV shows. I had done "Boston Public", "Tru Calling", "Half and Half", and "What I like About You".

How was it working with Boris?

TG: It was great. Every girl that I know wanted to ask know what's it like to kiss him. He's a real nice guy.

What's it like to work with all these Gospel great singers?

TG: It was really, really cool. Hezekiah Walker and Donnie McClurklin were all great. Hezekiah said that he's not doing any more acting. "I'm leaving the acting stuff to you all. I'm just going to stick to singing." It was nice to be part of a welcoming cast for my first movie. There was no attitude and everybody was there to help. Maybe it's because of the Gospel and it's a church based film and when you have that type of film and you have that type of environment where you are not cursing and there's no sex and it's just a feel good movie, you can just be comfortable.

Were there any scenes taken out that may be on the DVD?

TG: There was a scene that was taken out, but I haven't seen the whole as of yet.

Do you have the acting bug now?

TG: I've had it since "Boston Public". I love it. It's a difference for me because with singing, I'm so involved in it. I write and I record and then I listen to it and I make changes to it; and with acting, you get the script, you learn it, you memorize it, and you put yourself into it and that's really it. It's not the same thing in terms of like you actually have to write the script and it allows you to take on a different character and take a break from yourself for a minute and be somebody else and I think that what's cool.

Did you start acting after "American Idol"?

TG: Initially, yes. Before AI, I had an agent and I had done a few commercials but most of it was improve. It never required me to memorize lines or anything. I always think in my auditions. I've noticed that. I'll take an audition and then I'll never get it if I do the audition, but if someone says, "Ok, we'll give you the chance", and I don't know. Maybe I don't have the proper technique of mastering an audition. I still get really nervous; but when someone takes a chance on me, I tend to do better. It's pretty cool.

What's next for you?

TG: I'm working on my next album right now. I have change management and we're in the process of shopping for a new deal.

What will different with the new album?

TG: It will be more R & B.

Is that were you feel more comfortable?

TG: Yeah. I grew up listening to classic R & B. I feel comfortable with everything and my first album was what I had always wanted to do. I didn't want any boundaries put on myself because I feel that with most artists, you have to confine yourself to one particular genre. I had always didn't want to be the artist who said my second album is the one I wanted to make because they were forced to make an album that the record label wanted them to do. I pretty much had free reign with my last album. They said, "Whatever you want to do, you do and we support you 100%. Just make the album that's going to make you happy." I got to write songs and I wrote most of the songs on the album. I got to put in most of the musical influences that I've listened to over the years and I was great with that. Now I'm going into my second album and I'm in a different place now and I feel like your music should grow. I feel that if an artist can't put out the album they always wanted to put out eventually, they are still stuck in the past because they feel that they haven't done what they wanted to yet. I was given that chance first and now I can keep growing year after year and so this next album is more R & B hip hop, but with more music.

If the first album is what you wanted, then why change management?

TG: I was with my management for three years and I felt it was time for a change. I'm entering a new phase in my life and I wanted to make sure I have the right things going on. My management was great for what they did, coming off AI, but I had a manager who lived in England and pretty much makes all the decisions. As great and supportive as he was behind me, if he's the only one who can make a decision and he's in England, I need him here to help me move along and further my career.

Looking back, were you upset that you didn't win on American Idol?

TG: I'm not upset with the turnout. If I had won, I wouldn't have been able to do any of this. Kelly hasn't been able to do any TV stuff. Record labels just want you to sing. They would have wanted me to just sing. I wouldn't have been able to go straight into doing "Boston Public", which is what I did once we got off the tour. We were recording as well as being on the road. I wanted to build. I wanted to be involved and I wanted to write and I was pretty much told that I couldn't do it. So I was like, "Ok, I don't want it." If we can't write and have any say so in our first album process, this clearly isn't for me.

You have to admit that AI has been an asset to your career.

TG: It launched me. It was that necessary tool that I needed to be able to do anything. I had been recording and I had been trying to get out on the TV circuit and do TV shows but I didn't really have an avenue; and Idol put my face out there and allowed producers to see me and say whether or not I would be good for their show, which is what happened with "Boston Public"; so it hasn't hurt me in any form or fashion. If I could do it again, I would do it in the exact same way and still would want to be taken out fourth because in our season, it was structured so that the fourth runner-up still got all the press as if you had won, but the third runner-up got no press, because the first and second runner-ups had to go on this battle against each other, which they have changed now. There was a press tour where they were trying to rally people to vote for them, so the third runner-up missed out; and I didn't want to be second. If you have a chance to opt out of something, fourth is the best way to go because you still get the benefits but you are not competing one on one against with the actual chance of coming in second. Everybody is going to want first place.

Who's your favorite gospel singer?

TG: I love Yolanda Adams. I didn't get to meet her. My wrap day was the day before she came in, and so I didn't get to meet her, but I absolutely adore her voice. I think she's magnificent. Her voice is heavenly and unbelievable.



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