In the Loop With... Tatyana Ali
2 months ago
The once-upon-a-time child star succeeds on her own terms now
Tatyana Ali first caught our collective attention as a fresh-faced member of the Banks clan, the legendary television sitcom family of "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" that shot rapper, actor Will Smith to fame. Now in her 30s, she's aligned herself with another legendary comedic surname: Wayans.
The saying goes that behind every great man is a greater woman, and in Ali's new role as assistant Maya on BET's latest comedy series "Second Generation Wayans," she joins Craig and Damien (the real-life nephews of famous Wayans brothers Keenan, Damon, Shawn and Marlon) and actor George O. Gore II (who you may remember from the Damon-created show "My Wife & Kids") as the glue that holds the men together as they attempt to make a name for themselves in Hollywood.
We asked Ali how she managed to go from a child actor among many, to an established star in the industry.
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What's it like being the only girl on the cast? Any benefits?
I grew up with sisters, so being the only girl on set is definitely a bit different for me. Working with the guys makes me wish I had brothers. I’m learning a lot about the ways guys think.
How do you differ and how are you similar to Maya?
Maya and I are really different. I’m much more of a laid-back, go-with-the-flow person. She likes to be in control. I do understand her ambition, especially because our show is set in Hollywood. It takes serious focus to make it, and Maya’s got that in spades.
"Second Generation" is a pseudo-reality show, but would you ever consider doing a real one? And do you have any faves?
I wouldn’t do a reality show. The opportunity has crossed my desk a couple of times, but I enjoy the illusion involved in being an actor. I think it would be difficult to ask an audience to believe I’m different characters if they know too much about who I really am. That being said, there are some reality shows that I love to watch. "The Real Housewives" franchise is my number one!
Are you satisfied with the opportunities and roles offered to women of color on television and film?
I think that there is always more work to be done and more ground to be covered. The goal is to break old archetypes and create new ones with multi-dimensional, unique characters. As an actor you try to imbue every role with that sense of uniqueness, but if the writing and “powers that be” don’t support that, it can be really challenging. Right now is a great time. "Deception" and "Scandal" are making incredible strides. We just have to make sure that continues.