African Vibes magazine is rolling out the red carpet in style to celebrate its fourth anniversary of shining a positive spotlight on Africa and Africans. This year, hosting with Editor In Chief, #Amabel Niba is the beautiful actress/filmmaker #Tangi Miller. Miller is best known for the role of the smart, spirited and stylish Elena Tyler on the J.J. Abrams hit show, “##Felicity.”
The Miami-native is also a two-time NAACP Image Award nominee for her work on the small screen, grabbing nods in 2002 for “Best Actress in a Dramatic Series” and again in 2005 for “Outstanding Actress in a Television Movie” for her work in “Phantom Force”. She was named as “one of the sexiest stars on television” by TV Guide, and Ebony Magazine dubbed her as one of the “most beautiful people of the millennium.”
She’s set to appear in the upcoming comedy, “##Drones,” directed by Amber Benson and Adam Busch, which premiered at this year’s Sundance Film Festival. And this spring, she stars in the romantic comedy, “##My Girlfriend’s Back,” co-starring Malik Yoba (Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married”) with a supporting cast of award-winning veterans, Guyanese-American CCH Pounder and Obba Babatunde. Filmed in Miami and Los Angeles, “My Girlfriend’s Back” is an intelligent romantic comedy that chronicles the social and economic rise of Derek Scott (Yoba), and how the arrival of his ex-girlfriend (Miller) changes everything!
As an independent filmmaker, she has produced and starred in several independent films, including “After School,” “##Hurricane in the Rose Garden,” and “Love … & Other 4 Letter Words,” as well as the upcoming release, “My Girlfriend’s Back.”
A Conversation with Tangi Miller
AV: Is it true that you weren’t allowed to watch television as a kid?
TM: Yes, my mother felt that television might be a bad influence on me and my brothers and sisters. (She is the eldest of five.) She just felt like anything that wasn’t edifying God or anything that wasn’t speaking to your spirit in a positive was negative.
AV: How did you get into acting?
TM: Well, I began acting in stage productions while in high school. It was a wonderful outlet. It gave me a chance to release my feelings, my emotions, and have fun at the same time. It became a fun hobby. I left Miami and majored in the more practical field of marketing at Alabama State University. It wasn’t until I realized that I spent all of my free time acting in theater productions that I decided to pursue an acting career after graduation. I realized that I wanted to figure out a way to make a living doing it because it made me so happy. I continued my studies and got a master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of California, Irvine.
AV: As luck would have it, you landed one of your first gigs on the hit-show “Felicity,” created by uber-producer-writer J.J. Abrams. How excited were you to land the job, playing Elena Tyler?
TM: It was a whirlwind because it was my first gig, and it was a BIG job for my first job. I was kind of blown away and thrown right into Hollywood almost immediately.
AV: How was it working with J.J. Abrams?
TM: I was very fortunate to work with such a talented visionary as Abrams, who at the time was very young in his career. He was very open and welcoming of any suggestions and input. It was a pleasure to work with him. He also gave me a blueprint of how I wanted to run my own production company, Olivia Entertainment.
AV: Yes, you’ve turned your attention to filmmaking. Why?
TM: I just wanted the chance to tell the stories I wanted to tell.
AV: You’ve produced several films, including “Hurricane in a Rose Garden,” a comedy, which centers around a Nigerian family. What was that like?
TM: I had a great time working on that film. The film is directed by Ime Etuk with Pascal Atuma, Yun Choi, Oris Erhuero. It’s a comedy about what happens when the life of a happily-married couple is suddenly interrupted and turned upside-down because of an unwelcome visit from a very traditional and opinionated Nigerian mother-in-law.
AV: Where does the title of the movie come from?
TM: Pascal Atuma came up with the title. I believe the “hurricane” represents the mother, and the “rose garden” symbolizes the relationship of the couple.
AV: What message do you hope audiences will gather from the film?
TM: I hope people will see the love that the couple has for one another, and learn that despite cultural differences, we can learn from each other and make this world a better place.
AV: Did you experience any cultural differences working with Nigerians on the project?
TM: Well, yes and no. Ordering lunch on the set was a little different; (she laughs) but as artists, we all wanted the same thing – a chance to flex our creative muscles.
AV: So what do you enjoy more – acting or filmmaking?
TM: That’s a tough one. I enjoy expressing myself as an actor and bringing life to a character. But, as a filmmaker, I loves taking a concept or an idea and bringing it to life on screen. It’s very satisfying and fulfilling.
AV: You’ve been involved with Africa in many ways including movies and African dance. What is it that draws you to Africa?
TM: I am drawn to Africa because I am African. Yes, I’ve been kissed by America, but there is no question where my ancestors came from. This fact alone constantly draws me to the Motherland. As a dancer, I became deeply entrenched into the African community in Los Angeles, and those connections and ties has brought me even closer to the Motherland.
AV: What are your thoughts on African fashion?
TM: I love the colors and the bold style in many of the designs. I am excited that contemporary African style is making an impact on fashion. Styling with Western designers mixed with touches of African accessories — or vice versa — brings a new and fresh aesthetics to contemporary African style.
AV: Which designers do you usually wear?
TM: Of course, I have my favorite Western designers. However, in my travels to Africa, I like to buy headwraps and skirts, and incorporate them in my wardrobe. I really enjoy pairing a colorful African accessory with my jeans and t-shirts, blending fabrics for a new interpretation of American style. Since Korto Momolu’s appearance on “Project Runway,” I’ve been really impressed with her point of view on fashion with an African flair. I also love her jewelry, and will be wearing some of her accessories at the anniversary event. I can’t wait!
AV: What made you decide to #host the “##I Wear African” runway show?
TM: I love fashion! Plus, I’ve been blessed to participate in various fashion shows – showcasing the designs of African Americans, Latins and Europeans. This is my first time participating in a runway show, featuring African designers, and it’s so exciting and new.
AV: What kind of look will you be going for on the red carpet of the anniversary event?
TM: Well, I haven’t decided on a particular look per se, but I am going to rely on the styling efforts of a designer featured in the “I Wear African” fashion show. I would like to represent today’s African woman – a style that’s global and can be worn by anyone. I’ve been flipping through African Vibes magazine for inspiration.
AV: What does the “I Wear African” mean to you?
TM: It’s an opportunity to wear, support and celebrate talented African designers and their contributions to fashion.
AV: You have come a long way from the days when you were not allowed to watch television. Since your success in film and television, has your mother changed her opinion about watching television?
TM: Yes, and she’s very proud of me!
To Learn more about Tangi, Visit http://www.tangimiller.com/
Watch a Clip from Hurricane in the Rose Garden: http://www.imdb.com/video/wab/vi690749977/