If you were one of the many people that saw Tyler Perry’s Boo 2! A Madea Halloween then you couldn’t have missed the beautiful actress Taja V. Simpson who played “Debrah Simmons”, Tyler Perry’s fun and sassy ex-wife. Although this was not her first time in front of the cameras, it is one of her most memorable roles that is sure to make her a household name.
The talented actress is more than just a pretty face. Giving credit to her ancestral background that is flavored with Choctaw (Native American Tribe), African American and Caucasian descent, her colorful background allows her to constantly bring new characters to life. Hailing from a small town in Louisiana, she has become a trusted name in Hollywood. She has appeared in award-winning soap opera, The Bold and The Beautiful as “Adele”, she is also a director, and an author of the highly-anticipated book, ‘Cracking The Acting Code: A Practical Step-By-Step Guide To Becoming A Professional Actor’ which gives in-depth knowledge as to what it takes to make it in Tinsel Town better known as Hollywood.
Think PYNK had the opportunity to chat exclusively with the lovely Taja Simpson about her opportunity to work with such an amazing talent like Tyler Perry, starring in a “scary movie”, her love for all things Halloween, and how she knew that being in a movie like Madea’s was destiny.
Think Pynk: Did you enjoy your Halloween?
Taja Simpson: I absolutely loved Halloween, especially when I get to take part in all the costumes, all the candy, and all the fun. There’s such a spirit of silliness and play, that allows you to be a kid again. It’s very similar to acting because everybody is role playing and I love that!
TP: As a youth, did you do a lot of trick or treating?
TS: Yes, as kids, my sister and I would go door to door, gathering all the candy we could possibly get. I remember seeing our friends in their costumes and how that was like the greatest thing ever. Our house was everybody’s favorite because of how much candy my dad would give away. I mean it was tons of candy, huge handfuls and all the kids knew they only had to shout, “Trick or treat, Mr. Robert,” and he’d run to answer the door! That’s so my dad… always wanting to put a smile on everyone’s face.
TP: What was your favorite costume and why?
TS: Well, I’ve always been a ‘girly-girl’ all my life and when I was really young, I loved dressing up as a princess! I loved the crown, the wand, the dress and of course the shoes. The dress was empowering and it made me feel like I could do anything!
TP: What is the first scary movie that you ever watched?
TS: Wes Craven’s classic – “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”
TP: On a scale of 1-10, how scary was it for you? Why?
TS: Definitely a 10! Freddy Krueger’s face was the scariest thing to me. Until then, I’d never seen a face like that. I was literally afraid to go to sleep because he would kill you in your dreams. I thought he was real, that’s how scary that movie was for me.
TP: How did you get the role in the Madea Halloween movie?
TS: I auditioned for this opportunity. Funny thing is, I’d auditioned for many other Tyler Perry projects and been on hold for a few, but ultimately the roles went in a different direction. However, after booking this role, I flew to Atlanta and met with the producer of the the film, Mark Swinton, and he started telling me how much he loved my work and was so happy for me to join the TPS family. All those times I’d auditioned were all building up to this one moment. Little did I know, they were simply waiting to find the perfect role for me. When it’s meant to be it’s meant to be.
I was later told that my audition was the only that casting sent through to the studio because they knew they had their “Debrah”. After auditioning so many times, that was great to hear. It was a great role and I’m happy to have been able to breathe life into this character.
TP: How did you know that you wanted to be a part of this project?
TS: I grew up loving everything that Tyler Perry did: from his stage plays to all the Madea films, I am a huge fan. So whenever the opportunity came to work with him, I was excited. I was dying to bring one of his characters to life. When they called me in for this audition and I got to read the part, I fell in love with “Debrah.” She is sassy and fun and totally knows what she wants. I knew right away that playing her was going to be a lot of fun. I was so ready to get on set that I literally packed my bags as soon as I got home from my audition. Now that’s what I call faith. And God brought me home to my Tyler Perry family!
TP: Who is your character, Debrah Simmons, in the movie?
TS: Debrah is a fun and sassy woman who has a different parenting style to her ex-husband Brian (Tyler Perry). She is the mother of their two kids, B.J. and Tiffany. While Brian wants to instill discipline, Debrah wants her daughter, Tiffany, to have freedom to make mistakes.
TP: In what ways are you alike or different from Debrah?
TS: We both will take a stand for what we truly believe in. It’s done with passion and conviction, which to me was such an endearing quality of “Debrah’s”. Her heart is always in the right place because she is very loving, caring and supportive, something that I am as well.
The big difference is that I do not have kids, but because of my Southern upbringing, which blesses you with that “It takes a village to raise a child” mentality, I could tap into her maternal instinct and channel her love for her kids. Of course, “Debrah” has been married twice, unlike myself. That said, the differences only helped to spark my imagination, so at the end of it, I was able to be her, completely and lovingly.
TP: Did you ever see yourself in a scary movie?
TS: Yes, actually. Since I was a kid, I always wanted to be in a scary movie. I’ve imagined myself running through the woods, without falling, and being the last person standing at the end. Scary movies are fun because of how much power they have over the audience. It’s total mind control! At the same time, it’s what great stories do. They give the audience enough emotional investment that they can suspend reality and believe in the supernatural. Some movies follow you home, too. How many times have I stayed up at night because I saw a scary movie? Plenty! I’m still a little scared to say ‘Candyman’ three times in the mirror.
TP: Have you followed the Madea movies before this opportunity?
TS: I’ve followed Madea since the stage plays and they’ve always been hilarious and left the audiences feeling great. You only have to sit in a theater with people you don’t even know to see how much Madea touches people. It’s a way to leave all your troubles behind. Laughter is so important for the spirit, and boy does Madea lift it up. I have seen Boo 2! five times and each time I am laughing like it was the first time. That’s what Boo 2! and Tyler Perry does for people.
TP: What can we expect from you in the very near future?
TS: Definitely keep an eye out for my directorial work. As a storyteller, I am involved in more than acting. I have two feature films in development right now with Lemuel Entertainment titled Trinity (Action/Adventure), and Airport (Horror/Thriller). I’m a very busy lady.
To learn more about Taja and her book collaboration with Sabrina M. Revelle titled ‘Cracking The Acting Code: A Practical Step-By-Step Guide To Becoming A Professional Actor’ is available for pre-order at www.crackingtheactingcode.com