For Black History Month, Soulivity celebrates the life and journey of several African Americans around the country. Soulivity TV Host of Beauty+Gratitude and Soulivity Editor-at-Large D'angelo Thompson spent time with Tisa Howard, a powerful force in the television and film industries, having worked with Saturday Night Live (NBC), Law and Order: SVU (NBC), and Blue Bloods (CBS).
DT: Were you always so outgoing?
TH: Yes, I have always been outgoing, as early as I can remember. Always, fearless, and into everything, my ambitions have been the same since I was a kid.
DT: I met you over two decades ago; I was doing your makeup for a modeling test. One thing I've noticed [about you] in all that time [is] when you have set your mind to something, you make it happen. Where does this drive come from?
TH: Anyone that knows me [says] I have a fire in me since the day I was born. I move with purpose and will always flow until my fire extinguishes.
My paternal grandparents, Thadford C. Howard and Annetta Delores Brown-Howard, were a huge influence for me, as well; they were a "sing-and-dance" act. They worked with Sarah Vaughn, Lena Horne, The Nicholas Brothers, [and] Redd Foxx; and, traveled all over the United States and West Indies.
TH: I don't have a sister; so, my sorority is an extension of my family. It's a strong support system. We do community service, and [we're] part of a family/organization of dynamic women. I love the unity and the diversity.
TH: The great lessons I've learned while working in film and television is stay true to yourself. Always be open to learning, and never feel like you've made it, then there is no room for growth.
DT: Do you think these lessons will be beneficial in your journey as an actress? (I think you are a natural, by the way.)
TH: Yes, for sure it will! Everything happens for a reason and on-time. It's been a masterclass for me, for over 20 years of working in film and television.
The most important lesson is being humble and how to respect others, and [not to] take anything for granted. All journeys are different, but how you carry yourself is important.
DT: You have helped many in this business. Why is paying it forward important to you?
TH: My purpose is here to serve, to give back, and I trust that. My late mentor, Roxanna Floyd taught me to take care of others as well and I will honor her legacy by doing so.
TH: The year 2020 has taught me to take care of myself first, self-care without any guilt. It also helped me appreciate what I have and what I've done. So, if I left the world today, I can say, "well done." There was a silver lining in 2020, major things shifted.
For 2021 and beyond, it's time to take on some new challenges and step outside my comfort zone like this interview (laughs). Highlight and showcase all that I have accomplished and challenge myself to do more. Letting go is so important.
At this point in my life, I am grateful for the life experiences that make me who I am, all parts of me that makes me the strong woman I am proud of being. I am grateful for my family, friends, life partner, dogs, and the amazing people I have worked with. I am grateful for this interview and you not giving up on me.
DT: Thank you, Tisa, for taking this time to chat. Last question, what would you say to young girls in the 21st century, not only in America, but around the world?
TH: Don't "second-guess" yourself, set the goals, [and] go for it. It's okay to hear the word "NO." Keep pushing ahead. Also, don't forget to extend yourself to others, and be proud of who you are. Do not dim your light for others.