Actress/model Tika Sumpter plays Candace on Tyler Perry’s “The Haves and The Have Nots” but depending on who you are, you may know her best from her role as Layla on “One Life to Live,” as Raina on “Gossip Girl,” as Jenna on “The Game” or as Delores in the film remake of “Sparkle.” According to fan Tom Joyner, though, in her role as the “low-down, manipulative, no-good, real slutty,” Candace on “The Haves and the Have Nots,” she’s doing her most memorable work yet.
“People tweet me all the time or they’ll come up to me saying ‘I thought you were so nice and I’m like ‘I am nice!’” Sumpter says.
The Long Island, NY native went to Marymount Manhattan College to earn a degree in communications, but modeling and acting gigs soon took over those initial ambitions. Sumpter, now 32 (she turns 33 this week) may seem like an overnight success but she’s been steadily working for some time.
“I’ve always wanted to do this since I was a little girl,” she says. “Since I sat in front of “The Cosby Show” and said ‘Omigod, I don’t know what that is, but that’s what I want to do.’ It’s always something that I wanted to pursue. I’ve been doing it for a while now, it’s just now that people are starting to get to know me in the last few years and it’s exciting.”
The soap opera elements of “The Haves and the Have Nots” are nothing new to Sumpter who got her start in daytime soaps on “One Life to Live.” But as Candace, the scheming daughter of the Cryer’s longtime maid, Hanna Young, she’s playing a role much different that the one she appeared in on the daytime soap.
“It’s definitely different. This one is fast-paced. Candace is kind of a tornado and she’s brought all these people to their knees. As the story progresses, you’re going to see why [Candace treats her mother like she does]. My [real-life] mother calls me after every show like ‘Girl, I would have smacked you. That would have not happened in my house.’”
Though she uses the professional name Tika, Sumpter’s real-name is Euphemia, which is Greek. She says family folklore says “Tika” came from her grandmother sighting a tiki bird, a beautiful blackbird, and that’s where the name came from.
Sumpter promises the next episode of “The Haves and the Have Nots” will be explosive. You can tune in to all the drama on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. on OWN and catch full episodes here.