Wendy Raquel Robinson is one of those actresses that have the ability to make you laugh before you even hear her speak on the screen. Wendy has paid her dues in the entertainment arena; she’s a multi-talented actress and star of BET’s #1 rated hit TV series, The Game, where she plays ‘Tasha Mack,’ a feisty, wisecracking and outspoken sports manager. Her work on the hit show has earned her three NAACP Image Award nominations for “Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy Series.” Before The Game, Wendy enticed viewers as the no-nonsense Diva principal, ‘Regina Grier‘ on comedian Steve Harvey’s popular sitcom, The Steve Harvey Show.
Throughout her professional career as an actress, Wendy has found success in TV, film and theatre. Her film and TV credits are extensive. Something most of us did not know is that Wendy is a cum laude graduate of Howard University with a BFA in Drama. She is also co-founder of Amazing Grace Conservatory, a Los Angeles based acting institute that helps develop the next generation of performance artists. This is Wendy’s passion. She tells us that if she never would have become an actress that she indeed would be a teacher.
Before we got down to business Wendy told us that this was her second time hosting the NFC with Fonzworth Bentley and that she’s really excited to be back for the 2nd year. She said that she stands behind everything that AT&T stands for as it relates to their work in the community. Wendy also told us that she loved igniting the energy of the kids on campus and seeing their excitement is a wonderful thing. The bottom line is….she’s ready to rock and roll!
Gumbumpers we hope you enjoy this exclusive interview as much as we did! Be sure to share, share, share and tell us what you think!
What made you attend an HBCU?
I was attracted to an HBCU specifically, Howard based on the alumni. I was into dance in high school and when I looked at that Howard roster I saw Debbie Allen, Roxie Roker and Phylicia Rashad; I saw they were there. These great women! That had a positive impact on me and I wanted to follow their steps. I came out very conscious as an activist, a woman, a dancer and it has transformed my life in so many ways.
How does it feel to host AT&T NFC again??
It feels like I’m a little more prepared. Last year Fonzworth and I had a rivalry and we went in!! He represented Morehouse and I represented Howard. Old school vs new school. I’m looking forward to it because, it feels like a family reunion. Ironically, some of my alumni from my conservatory will be there and I get to see them again. You see the old, the new, the freshmen. I look forward to the environment and being able to encourage young people to show them that their dreams are tangible and they can do whatever they want to do if they put their minds to it. I’m really excited!
How did you get involved in the AT&T NFC?
I believe someone at AT&T reached out to me and it was a no brainer. I think the only thing we had to consider was scheduling because anytime I can go back to Howard in any capacity I’m there.
What HBCU activities do you like best?
My kick-off party… Last year was my first year the bands got down. The cheerleaders got down; you know I enjoy it all. I can’t get into everything but, this year I may.
What is your fondest memory of attending Howard?
Hmmmm, my fondest memory of being at Howard would take a whole 2-days… (laughs) What I love most about Howard was that I was able to walk away and encourage young people to consider going to a HBCU. Being at Howard empowered me and challenged me. It was very intimate. I knew my professors, I had a one on one and I was able to go to them when I had challenges. It’s that hands on. I didn’t feel like just a number in a classroom. It challenged me to dig deeper. Being an acting major I was able to do non-traditional roles, classics like “Agnes of God.” As an African-American 9 times out of 10 I would not have had that oppotunity had I went somewhere else. I had the opportunity to tap into my craft and I built relationships and bonds with people like Tarajii P. Henson, Isaiah Washington, Anthony Anderson, and Wendy Davis from (Army Wives) and I cherish it. I got a bond that was irreplaceable and wouldn’t change it for life.
Is Wendy Raquel anything like Tasha Mack? And is there ever a time that you forget you are no longer on set?
NEVER!! (laughs) Nevvverrr….No, there is never a time that I forget. Tasha is very outspoken; she lives out loud and doesn’t apologize for it. I on the other hand am very humble; I censor what I have to say. The total opposite. Tasha speaks it, senses it and does it. Sometimes I wish I was, she would get me a lot further…lol — But, I leave Tasha on set. I take off the hair wardrobe and makeup and call it a night.
I don’t judge the material; this is how I prepare for Tasha. I don’t ask questions. I surrender to the process and I trust my instincts. Because, we go really, really fast when shooting. Lots of times we shoot the rehearsals so, you can’t prepare. I just go for it and can’t second guess. I prepare myself to have fun. Every actor is going to give me something different so, I can’t go in with preparation. You have Brandy and Kobe that’ll bring something new and you just have to bring it and be present in the moment. The greatest thing is just being present.
You played Regina Grier a powerful principal on The Steve Harvey Show if you were to leave the business would you go into education?
What’s interesting is that I teach. I’m in the field and have been actively for the past 17-years at my Amazing Grace Conservatory. I co-founded it and still teach the classes. I write, produce and teach young people. When I went up for the role of Regina in hindsight, I didn’t realize that it was exactly where I was, the principal at the conservatory. It was sort of like art imitating life. Had I not gone into acting I would have gone into child psychology. I love learning and teaching what I know.
What’s it like to play the role of a mother on- TV (The Game)?
Wow, you know… I guess you should ask me what it is like playing the role of a nontraditional mother. (laughs) It’s like he’s raising me. We have a very unique relationship. I saw my best friend have a child at the age of 16. I admired the relationship they had…it was turbulent, and tumultuous but, still loving at the same time. He’s in the rap game and she had her thing and they struggled. And seeing her relationship made me want to nurture that character. In the first few seasons of The Game you saw the mothering component of Tasha. Actually, I was smothering. Lol — There’s a difference between mothering and smothering. Jose and I are really close off camera he values my opinion and I do his. We have mutual respects for each other so, it comes across seamlessly on camera. I enjoy working and raising my son on TV.
How is your community theater program going and what other projects do you have coming up?
My conservatory is going really well. It’s been 17 years… Thanks for asking! You know when they say dream; sometimes God can show you something then you see that you’re not dreaming big enough. God shows you, you can dream bigger. We have raised the bar to dream higher and higher. Not only for myself but, for the staff. I am really working toward putting together an alumni fundraiser. You know our alumni’s are doing really well now. We have Elle Varner, Selena Thurmand and more so, we’re talking about doing an original show. It’ll be a charitable event to support and plant the seeds. I created a docu-series that I’m shopping. It’s so much more than a reality show. It shows the behind the scenes of being cast. The audition process to the curtains going down, it’s so much that you don’t see. People think it’s easy and it’s not. It’s a painful process sometimes and it could be a fun one. People need to see the process of pain, tears, joy. I’m really excited and if you’re serious about knowing join our mailing list, to support us and stay in the know. Even if you can’t financially just support us with your prayers.
Visit us at:
You’ve had lots of success as a Hollywood Actress and have been in the business for a long time, what advice would you give other aspiring minority actors and actresses?
To study, train, take it seriously. It is a business first. Seeing reality shows people assume it’s easy to get into. To know the craft is the only way to know the business and to be respected. You have to be respected! Always do theater. It’s the foundation for anything acting. If you can do that you can do it all. Study to show and not prove.
How do you feel about the new cast on ‘The Game’ and how does the show differ from before?
Wow!! Uhmmm…you know change is inevitable. I think what it did for me is… like this business everyone is replaceable. Jay is a wonderful young man, he’s talented. Lauren London who ironically was one of my students back in 1997, she went to an HBCU. She’s raw and brings something totally different than what Tia and Brittany brought. It’s like the real world of football. You get traded, you pack up and gotta go. You retire. I think it parallels the football game. Fans had different issues. But, at the same time they bring a freshness to the show. I’m loving the relationship between Jay and Lauren. I’m happy it’s HOT. Tasha has her own issues. Lots of times I don’t get to work with the actors because, the way it is shot. So a lot of it is new to me. I don’t see it until the episode airs. I have the script but, I don’t read theirs. But, when I see it… I love it!