Editor’s Note: “The Reel Black List” is our annual spotlight of brothers and sisters in the worlds of advertising, film, TV, music, radio and media who are making a difference through their contributions and creativity daily. For the next 29 days, you will be able to celebrate wonderful human beings, like actress, Tamica Wiley.
Tamica Wiley’s career continues to soar as she adds guest-starring roles in notable projects across various streaming platforms to her impressive resume. With appearances in productions for Paramount+, AppleTV+, BET+, and Amazon Prime, Wiley has collaborated with industry titans like Tyler Perry and Brian Grazer, establishing herself as a versatile and sought-after talent.
Among her notable credits, Wiley has portrayed Lieutenant Rawley in Long Slow in Exhale, alongside Josh Lucas, and took on the role of Sheila in Swagger, opposite O’Shea Jackson Jr., under the executive production of Brian Grazer. Additionally, audiences can catch her compelling performance as Officer Madden in Tyler Perry’s The Oval.
Hailing from Harlem Hospital in NYC, Wiley’s upbringing in the bustling metropolis of the early-mid 80s shaped her resilience and tenacity. Standing out as the tallest girl in her class, Wiley navigated the urban landscape with a sense of adventure, excelling in activities like biking and break dancing, where she was the lone female member in an all-male group.
Following high school, Wiley pursued a career in the Navy, specializing in the Naval Intelligence Cryptology program. However, fate intervened when she stumbled upon a radio advertisement calling for auditions, propelling her into the world of acting.
Beyond her thriving acting career, Wiley maintains a personal connection to The Real Water Rescue Foundation. As a descendant of St. Thomas USVI heritage, Wiley passionately supports the foundation’s mission to provide life-saving clean water filtration to the island, embodying her commitment to making a positive impact beyond the entertainment industry.
Let’s meet Tamica!
What’s your origin story?
Cheese ‘n rice…why did you have to ask this question? Eeesh. Ok, well…I was born in New York City from a Native American and African American mother and a Caribbean, West Indian father. I grew up like a lot of children of Harlem in the early 80’s, fast and hard. It was in the thick of the crack era and I had very little parental guidance. My older sister went to live with her father because of the turmoil that was going on in our home.
I was awarded to the state of New York when I was about 12 and transferred to an institution in White Plains, NY. I liked White Plains. It was quiet there. You fought a lot in the institution but off the grounds, it was quiet and peaceful. Then I was adopted by a family in Alabama at 16. When I turned 19 I went to the Navy. Rough start…I know but it truly shaped me to be who I am today both as an actor and as a person.
How did you get into acting?
I got into the acting industry by an ad I heard on the radio going to work one day. I had been praying for direction and I felt in my heart, that this was it. I have always loved TV and movies. I dreamt of being an actor when I was younger.
It was a way to escape those tougher days when I was a kid. I find oftentimes that I tap into moments from the past in my work. Some moments are sad. Some moments are fun, like when I was the only female break dancer on an all-male crew.
What did your parents think you would be?
I have no idea. I do remember my grandmother saying “Baby, if you don’t grow up to be a lawyer one day, I’m going to be so upset. You ask questions about EVERYTHING.” I guess I was a little too curious for her. But as an actor, it is my job to ask questions. Who is this character exactly? Why do they do what they do and react the way they do?
Who were your mentors?
I didn’t have traditional mentors per se. I didn’t open up much. I listened to counselors but that’s about it. However, I found that films and actors made an impression on me so maybe you could consider them to be mentors. Growing up I loved Sigourney Weaver, Regina King and Eddie Murphy. I mean, who didn’t love Alien?!
The bravest thing you’ve done?
Being in a cage and petting a live tiger! Also, when I look back, I was brave when I went to that radio-advertised audition. I remember that day very well. It was empowering for me and I still can’t believe I did it. I would have never thought I would be an actor, let alone an actor working with people like Tyler Perry.
How do you handle failure?
I change my perspective. I don’t see it as failing at all. It was just the wrong direction. I reflect, learn and move differently. I’ve lived and been through enough to understand that failure doesn’t exist for those who keep trying.
Who is a talent, actor, director or writer, you are dying to work with?
Directors I’m dying to work with would be James Cameron, Antoine Fuqua and Guillermo del Toro. Everyone works differently and that’s what I admire the most in all these talented people. For instance, I learned working with Tyler, you had better be ready. When I was on set for “The Oval” he didn’t do a lot of takes.
He shoots fast which got me use to the idea of different styles in directors. As far as actors, I would love the opportunity to work with Denzel, Will Smith and Regina King. Shonda Rimes is a linguistic master with that pen.
Zack Snyder’s Rebel Moon is over-indexing on Black and Hispanic audiences. Why?
For me, that particular director with that particular cast is delicious. It’s not common. Of course, I love to see reflections of myself in strong, positive fun superhero roles. It’s fantastic. With Zack in the driver’s seat too? Forget about it!
Lunch, Happy Hour or Dinner?
Lunch with Mansa Musa
Happy Hour with Eartha Kitt.
Too bad Einstein wasn’t black. We’d do dinner.
You would give up your career to go on tour and perform with what singer/band?
I don’t see myself doing that for anyone. Besides, my acting is much better than my singing!
Colman Domingo is a national treasure. Yes or no?
I can’t speak for the nation. I have no idea. I’ll get back to you on this one.
Nosebleed seats for Beyoncé or front row tickets for Taylor Swift?
What are your guilty pleasures?
I like to eat a whole bag of chips with cookies and ice cream. It’s so bad, but so good.
What’s brewing for your 2024?
I have some scripts in development. I am a sci-fi fan and would love to play a character in that genre so my projects and scripts focus on those kinds of shows. Most importantly is that I continue to be better than I was the day before.