*This weekend, GMC premieres its latest televised gospel play, “Sugar Mommas,” only this play was never a traditional production for live audiences.  It was produced by GMC as a play specifically for broadcast – and the network is producing seven more gospel plays set to air throughout 2012.

Terri J. Vaughn, who stars in “Sugar Mommas” alongside Vanessa Williams, is also a co-producer on the project and says that crafting the story as a televised play (as opposed to a traditional made-for-TV film) was a natural fit.

“My first acting job was a touring stage play, one of these gospel type plays,” Vaughn told the Television Critics Association at its annual press tour last week. “And that’s how I got bit by the acting bug, from touring with that play for two years. And maybe that’s why I feel so comfortable with doing them.  It feels great. I love bringing comedy and the whole gospel spectrum, too, and be able to bring it into your home now in this way – it’s a beautiful thing.

Premiering Saturday (Jan. 21) at 7 p.m. ET (with encores at 9 p.m. and 11 p.m.) “Sugar Mommas” finds the pair playing sisters Sheila (Vaughn) and Lynn (Williams)—two very different individuals who have lived very different lives.

With Sheila widowed and Lynn recently divorced with a daughter in college, both women have time on their hands and decide to start a business together. Having always loved sweets, a bakery seems a natural choice for them, and they invite close friend Tommi (Rachel True) to join them as their specialty pie maker.

The three women’s personalities are as distinct as the cupcake flavors they invent: Lynn is sassy and bold; Sheila is sweet and enduring, often to her own detriment; and Tommi is extremely practical. Together, their story is a celebration of womanhood after 40, the good and the bad, as each learns new lessons about maturing, love and romance, and entrepreneurship.

Also part of the ensemble cast: Lamman Rucker and Grammy nominated gospel artist Vashawn Mitchell, who was Billboard’s No. 1 Gospel Song Artist of 2011. [Click here to go behind the scenes of “Sugar Mommas.”]

In the audio below, Vaughn (with Williams co-signing) explains how the slow erosion of black sitcoms forced her to move into producing.

Sugar Mommas starsTerri J Vaughn, Vanessa Williams on expanding beyond acting by CherieNic