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23 Sep

Amirah Vann Embraces Her Fierce Mama Energy In Tyler

Amirah Vann knows she gives off serious mama energy on screen and she or he’s made peace with it. Long before she welcomed a baby of her own on the planet, the now 42-year-old actress was forged because the ferocious and flawed Ms. Ernestine, enslaved mother to a few enslaved children, within the historical drama Underground. Now, she’s taking up one other dynamic mother role. This time in Tyler Perry’s latest effort, A Jazzman’s Blues, coming to Netflix on Friday, September 23. 

The period piece, happening over 40 years, follows the forbidden love between Bayou (Joshua Boone) and Leanne (Solea Pfeiffer). Twenty seven years within the making, it’s a coming-of-age story about heartbreak and family secrets within the confederate south. 

In Perry’s vision, Vann portrays the role of Hattie Mae, Bayou and Willie Earl’s mother.  

“This woman is a mother who’s balancing,” Vann tells ESSENCE. “Through the day she’s a washerwoman and a doula and at night; she’s singing and entertaining her community. That is all within the Nineteen Forties segregated south. This woman is surviving that. That in and of itself is impressive. But she has a good looking arc. By the tip of the movie, she reaches a dream and opens a juke joint.”

Amirah Vann Embraces Her Fierce Mama Energy In Tyler Perrys ‘A Jazzmans Blues’
Photo Credit: Viktor Pacheco

As she lends herself to those dynamic portrayals, Vann takes on roles which have something to supply her as well. 

“I believe I just get interested in roles where I walk away higher,” Vann explains. “That’s exciting for me because I see a window in but I also see a window right into a recent, larger, greater, more robust me. And if that does it for me, I’m excited to hopefully encourage one other woman to feel that way.”

Along with expanding Vann, this portrayal will even perhaps broaden the way in which audiences perceive Vann’s talent as well. The Latest York native has a background in theater but that is essentially the most she’s sung in a movie project. 

“We set to work with Terence Blanchard. Chile, he’s sensible musically but then he’s so right down to earth, which may be very just like Tyler,” Vann shares. “Visionaries with great vision but so right down to earth and accessible. It really made the songs come to life and reminded all of us to simply tell the story simply.”

Vann jumped into this story just three weeks after giving birth to her daughter Nyla Fe Oyeku, whom she shares along with her partner, Patrick Oyeku. It was Tyler’s care and Vann’s own drive that made all of it possible. 

“I all the time felt supported,” Vann says. “That’s an ideal feeling as an actress, as a lady. Luckily, too, I actually have an ideal support system. My partner’s unbelievable. My family’s unbelievable. And I’m ambitious. So even once I read the script, every a part of me said, ‘Let’s do it.’ It starts in your mind. When you think you may, you actually can. And then you definately just nap in between.”

Amirah Vann Embraces Her Fierce Mama Energy In Tyler Perrys ‘A Jazzmans Blues’
Photo Credit: Viktor Pacheco

A part of Vann’s drive and ambition comes from the individuals who got here before her, specifically her parents. She reflects on her mother’s sacrifices as she and her family made a life for themselves in Far Rockaway, Queens. Vann recalls receiving cereal for Christmas one yr and her mother driving a bus so as to expose her to the finer things in life. 

“As a child, I remember a joyful childhood,” Vann shares. “As I grew up, I spotted the struggle.”

On the night of Jazzman’s world premiere during TIFF, Vann felt the presence of her late father. 

“Each of my sons within the movie remind me a lot of my father’s journey. My father died once I was 9. He didn’t survive America, what a Black man on this country has to attempt to survive and endure. You see two journeys with my two sons within the movie.”

The connection between the film and Vann’s own ancestral roots left her feeling deeply grateful to be experiencing all of it. 

“I used to be definitely in tears the night of the premiere, just meditating on all of that,” Vann says. “And I used to be glad I allowed that in. Numerous times, you hustle as an actor. You go, go, go.  I wasn’t allowing myself to appreciate, there’s no reason I ought to be here. It’s an enormous gift to have the opportunity to simply work, then to have the opportunity to work on such a prestigious film. Then to have the opportunity to achieve success, be alive on this country, doing what I like. I take none of it as a right.”

As audiences view this film, Vann hopes they reflect on the explanation why we’re here and what our collective role in society is likely to be. 

“Now we have a responsibility with how we move through this world, how we interact with one another,” she says. “There’s struggle in that but additionally beauty in what’s possible.”

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