She finds her current role on the “Have Nots” to be a breakthrough for black actresses in Hollywood.
“When you’re knocking on the door and you’re pressing it forward, I feel like every little bit helps.”
On the series Sumpter plays the character Candace Young who is a villainous daughter of a housekeeper at a wealthy family’s estate in Savannah, Georgia. Young becomes entangled in the homestead’s highfalutin ways, as affluence leads to dysfunction.
This role challenges Sumpter, forcing her to find the nuance of character in a way that is very new for her.
“Sometimes for African-American actresses, we don’t get to play that role of the vixen or the lead woman,” she says. “Sometimes we’re just the best friend. This is the front-burner story. It’s full of so many complexities,” Sumpter told theGrio.
“That Have and Have Nots” has become the top rated program on OWN, despite people’s efforts with an online petition to get the network to dissolve it’s partnership with Perry.
Many have criticized Perry’s use of African-American characters in his projects calling his humor “lowbrow.” Sumpter on the other hand, doesn’t believe in trying to dictate an artist’s creative content and calls into question those who judge the intellect of others.
“You have the right to turn the channel,” she explains. “There are a lot of people who turn the channel on, who have made him this successful, so there is an audience. When we start making judgments on what’s lowbrow to some people, then you’re making accusations that this group of people doesn’t know what’s really good. I don’t think that’s fair…Don’t condemn a bunch of people who actually go to these movies for what they like.”
Sumpter feels that Perry’s contributions say it all, loud and proud.
“He empowers people every day by employing over 400 people in his studio,” the actress remarks. “He’s the only black man with a studio; I’m talking about a studio lot…He’s come from no connection in this business to where he is now, a mogul. And if Oprah believes in him, that’s a great thing. She wouldn’t surround herself with people who are not enlightened and not smart.”