When Tami Roman's name is mentioned it usually conjures up an image of a K.O. queen and brawling beauty on VH1’s Basketball Wives. But that doesn’t crack the conundrum of who this multidimensional woman really is. The Real World alum, mother of two and former wife of basketball star Kenny Anderson has also been a busy actress with over 20 guest TV appearances to her credit. Now you can add burgeoning film and TV writer and producer to her career list; she and boyfriend director Jerry LaMothe have recently started a production company.
Roman spoke to BET.com about her acting vs. reality TV career, marriage, why she’ll never direct again and her acting proposition to Tyler Perry.
We’re not talking Basketball Wives at all today, but since you began your career in reality TV on The Real World and moved onto TV and film I was wondering which do you prefer, scripted or unscripted TV?
I love scripted programming and want to get back into more full time, but from a reality aspect I’d rather move into producing and bring other people’s stories to light. I’d love to bring good reality programming to TV. That’s really what I would like delve into and just stay behind the scenes. I have been offered a [solo reality TV show] situation where it focuses primarily on Jerry and me, our family and our life together. It would give people a glimpse into that. But we’re still trying to decide if we want to grant people that much access into our lives.
Tell me about your relationship with filmmaker Jerry LaMothe. When and how did you two meet?
I actually auditioned for several of Jerry’s projects and we became friends via email first. Jerry was casting for his film Blackout and he was like, "Hey, I really want you to look at a certain character." Well I read the script and the character he wanted me to do, I didn’t want to play. Jerry really took me around the rigmarole.’ Even though I auditioned for him many times. So I said, "I’m not going to auditioning for this. Forget this!" And I kept it moving and he kept it moving. Then I had wrote a script called The Players' Wives and we had breakfast so I could pitch my script for him to produce, and we’ve been together ever since. This was back in 2007.
What’s the dynamic in your relationship since you also work together?
We’re both very professional people who are passionate about the craft — making movies. Not just acting in them but respecting the art in and of itself. So when it comes time for us to work on a project we put on our professional hats and we approach it strictly from a business standpoint. We’re 100 percent into it on set or on a project. When we get home we try not to talk about it, we just try to be Tami and Jerry, the couple.
You are both happy, in love and working together with a blended family of three teenage girls. Do you think you'll ever marry?
We’ve both been married before so we’re not technically rushing into the situation of marriage. We understand what it means to be positive figures in all of our girls’ lives and to be committed to each other and our children. I’m taking on the role of being a female figure in his daughter's life and he’s taking on the role of being a positive male figure in my daughters’ lives. And we understand how valuable that imagery is and also having a relationship with the man upstairs first. So if marriage comes into the picture that will be the icing on the cake.
Back in 2006 you wrote and directed a short, A Day In the Life of Kelli Hughes. Any chance you’ll direct more?
No, I think everybody should stay in their lane. People who’ve watched it thought it was very good. But the whole being in charge of everything that happens on the set — from the actors, to the DP [director of photography] to the sound — it was too overwhelming for my type of personality, because I start cursing people out. It didn’t work well for me and I realized that directing is not my thing. But I think I’m a far better writer so I would love to bring my ideas to the screen via that method.
You just completed a your 10th film, Life Love Soul, which also stars Valerie Simpson [of Ashford & Simpson fame.] Did you always want to be an actress?
Actually, I wanted to be a model and singer. That was my claim to fame, I was in a singing group called Female — we had a deal and we were on the Panther soundtrack. Acting was not the goal but coming off of The Real World, reality TV was new to most people. We were being ourselves, but everybody thought we were acting. So I fell into it, agents started calling me wanting me to audition for shows. I studied my craft with Chip Fields [mom of actress Kim Fields], who I feel is one of the best acting coaches on the planet. I started taking it seriously and I’ve been working steady for the past 14-15 years.
Which film or TV project would you most like to tackle next?
I’m thinking that Tyler Perry should just bring me on as Madea’s crazy niece or crazy cousin and we can go pop guns together and set it off. All he has to do is pick up the phone, holler and I’ll be there.
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(Photo: Paras Griffin /Landov)