Tell us about your performing arts school, the Amazing Grace Conservatory.
My best friend, [the late] Tracy Lamar Coley, and I came together, collaborated and started a performing arts school for youth. We teach acting, dance and voice but we teach beyond the classroom. We provide mentoring, role models, and there have been so many incredible events that have happened throughout the years. And now we’re celebrating our 15th year anniversary. It’s something that’s so dear to my heart.
What was the inspiration for AGC?
I went to Howard University and I was always involved with children’s theater, teaching and working with kids and community theater. So it’s just been something that I’ve always loved. Marla Gibbs had a performing arts school years ago in the Crenshaw area in Leimert Park and I was working there. Unfortunately, she closed her doors and we had a plethora of kids who were like, “Oh God, What are we going to do, Miss Wendy? Where are we going to go?” Tracy and I took on the reins and we went on from there. It was nothing that was necessarily in the blueprints of our minds to do but it was in our hearts.
You’re a mentor to youth in the arts and you had a famous mentor as well.
Debbie Allen is my She-ro. We both went to Howard. She had the Debbie Allen-Phylicia Rashad scholarship, which I was the first recipient of. She really gave back and invested in me financially. She was the reason why I went to Howard. I have the type of relationship with her today where I feel I can go to her. Debbie’s always there when I need somebody to talk to. You’re never too far in the business where you don’t need help. I got my Queen Sheba’s Queen She-ros: Loretta Devine, Debbie.
Your character on The Game, Tasha Mack, is kind of a She-ro for moms. She’s fun, sassy and lively, and definitely not a traditional TV mom. What do you like most about playing her?
What I love about Tasha is [she represents that] being a mom doesn’t mean that you have to be a mom 24-7. You still have your life outside of your child. My character study for Tasha is one of my best friends who had her kids when she was 16 and she’s 52 now. She is the life of the party, and when she’s with her kids she’s mom. But when she’s out to have fun with us she turns the party out. Mamas can have fun too.
One of the great dynamics on the show is the relationship between Tasha and her son, Malik (Hosea Chanchez). How would you describe it?
Tasha and Malik have a very interesting relationship, it’s almost like an Oedipal complex. We’re so close, it’s like someone needs to cut the umbilical cord…. Tasha crossed that line because they were friends so much that when it came time to discipline him things got a little cloudy.
And speaking as his onscreen Mom, how do you handle Hosea’s real life fanatic fan base? He’s definitely reached heartthrob status.
I’m like the overprotective sister and auntie. It makes me giggle, because I absolutely adore him. He’s really kind of shy and awkward with that whole thing. It’s funny when I see it but I love the way he handles it. He doesn’t let it go to his head — it’s a beautiful thing.
For information about Amazing Grace Conservatory: