The end of summer is shaping up to be a huge success for magnetic actress and singer Asia'h Epperson; she made her return to OWN's Greenleaf for season 3 of the mega hit series that is currently airing, and starred in the BET bio-series THE BOBBY BROWN STORY which premiered this September.
The Oprah Winfrey executive produced/co-starring series Greenleaf follows the unscrupulous world of the Greenleaf family and their sprawling Memphis megachurch, filled with scandalous secrets and lies. The show was the #1 series debut in OWN history.Asia'h plays 'Tasha Skanks,' the wife of 'Basie Skanks' (Jason Dirden), a pastor of Greenleaf's rival church Triumph. 'Tasha' is a thorn in the side of rival 'Kerissa Greenleaf' (Kim Hawthorne) and Greenleaf family matriarch 'Lady Mae' (Lynn Whitfield). The new season shows 'Tasha Skanks' in a perilous position, forced between both families.
THE NEW EDITION STORY broke BET ratings records when it aired in January 2017, and THE BOBBY BROWN STORY picks up where that pic left off, following R&B musician Bobby Brown's (Woody McCain is reprising his role as Brown) successful solo run. In the series, Asia'h plays Bobby's high school sweetheart and on-and-off love interest for 14 years, Kim Ward. Their roller coaster relationship ended in 1992 when Kim (pregnant with their second child) found out that he was engaged to Whitney Houston (played by Gabrielle Dennis). The show is executive produced by Jesse Collins (THE NEW EDITION STORY) for JCE Films and directed by Spike Lee protégé Kiel Adrian Scott.
Growing up in small town Missouri, Asia'h started writing music at the age of 6. Singing became a source of great happiness for her and she did it wherever she could - in school, home, and church. While in high school, she won a regional talent competition, and subsequently moved to Atlanta. While in Atlanta she auditioned for American Idol and was selected to compete (after at first being denied). She went on to become a Season 7 finalist of the hit show. Her musical career began to skyrocket from there - she got signed with DefJam and began working with iconic producers Kenneth 'Babyface' Edmunds and L.A. Reid. She became a part of the original cast of the musical Hair Show alongside music legend Chaka Khan. Then, three weeks before her first musical showcase and release, she was in a devastating car accident - breaking her jaw, pelvis, nine ribs, and multiple vertebrae. Her mouth was wired shut. Her music career would be placed on the back burner. But when she feels weak, she pushes herself more. It was during this time of reflection and healing that another opportunity arose. She met a manager and began going to auditions, securing her first guest star role on TNT's Murder in the First. Before long she began booking more and more roles before landing her role on Greenleaf. Music is still very much a part of her life - she loves all kinds, R&B, Soul, even Country (her Missouri roots shine through).
Asia'h's father was a professional body builder and he instilled in her a love of health and fitness. She is also adventurous and enjoys being outdoors - whether it is hiking, jet skiing, climbing or even bungee jumping. She loves to travel - and recently spent an entire month in Bali. A firm believer in taking care of ones' body and health, she is also a licensed massage therapist.
Asia'h:0:00Hey everybody, I'm Asia'h Epperson and I'm with Chris Gordon on Hellblazerbiz.
Hellblazerbiz:1:53Everyone, I have the honor and the privilege of the company off Asia'h Epperson today, who is currently on the great show GreenLeaf which is on the OWN network and also appearing on the Bobby Brown story.
Hellblazerbiz:2:43Okay. So first of all tell me how you came to American Idol, where you became a finalist. Well actually your first audition you were turned away and you came back and turned up in the final of American idol.
Asia'h:2:54Hmm [laughs]. That little extra.
Asia'h:3:07Yeah, that is true. What I always tell everybody, like perseverance, determination is key and that you should never let anyone tell you no. Because what a lot of people don't know is that when I auditioned for American idol, when I did the first, there's like little levels, there's several levels that you go through before you get to put through to Simon and Randy and the very first level, I went and I performed and the guy told me, you know, I'm sorry you're not what we're looking for this season. And that was like, I didn't come all the way out here to just go now. I went out to the car, changed my outfit, changed my hair, went back in there again, snuck my way through the crowds and you know, we're on the very opposite end of the Georgia Dome because they had like little tables with some judges and producers and just people in the show that are there to pick the contestants to go on to the next level and there were lines all across the Georgia dome. And so I went on the opposite side and went to someone else. And then, hey, you know, I went all the way to the final. So you just, you never know. You may not be one person's flavour that day, then you can go to the next person in the same day and you'd be everything that they ever need. So you just never know. You can't take no for an answer. So yeah, I ended up being a finalist, by, you know...
Hellblazerbiz:4:58by sneaking back in [laughs]
Asia'h:5:02[laughing] by sneaking back in. But then sometimes you just gotta you gotta make it happen.
:5:07Exactly. If you want to follow your dreams and you've got the passion that you want to do that, then sometimes you've got to do, like you say, you know, just because one person said that, it doesn't mean someone else would.
Asia'h:5:18Exactly. Not Everybody is going to open the door for you. Sometimes you got to kick the door down yourself.
Hellblazerbiz:5:24I remember I did something. It wasn't the same anywhere near the same scale of you, but comic con last year as my first ever time as press that I've been given. I've been given the press pass and other people who were there with the Benedict Cumberbatch. I can't remember who else there was. Alan Tudyk and I went to see and speak to a guest who had been on my show before and you have to get past this barrier of people as well and you know, I just looked at them. I was just like, I gave them a flash of the press pass. I asked to join the line to go up and have a chat with them and talk and do a quick on the spot interview and this wasn't any like Benedict Cumberbatch actually it was Tricia Helfer, but she's been on my show and they just said you're having a laugh with this caliber of guests, you've got no chance whatsoever of getting anywhere near. And I was like, but she's been on the show. I said, those three have also been on the show. I said, I just want to say hello. And they were like, no, you're not going to, you won't get it. And that's not what. You know. Why is the press pass there if you're not going to let people in. So I did the same thing, I stuck around and went see someone else. In fact, I just bypass them completely when I went around and was like, I'm going to get my chat with these people.
Asia'h:6:43Yeah. That's it, sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do, man. As long as you're not hurting anybody or in the process or doing anything like that, then hey, it's free game.
Hellblazerbiz:6:53Exactly. Exactly and I hear that a lot. Not that you know, sneaking around, but it's all about the passion. You've got to have a real good passion for these things, especially in that say, well done because I think we might at times, well, you do get let down yourself because you're a singer as well as an actress, so you've got to write right in it that we've seen major places and yeah, the amount. I think I was shocked when I first started talking to actors because the ones you see all the time in the big movie, like top three percent, there's 97 percent of actors are working really, really hard, but it's only three percent you'll see in the top because they're the ones who suddenly got there and then there's hours and hours spent doing your self tapes and you're auditioning and it's very similar to me getting an actress like yourself because, you know, the amount of times I emailed people, I'll email, say 100 times and I might get one guest from it that which happens to be a great guest, but even so, there's a lot of work involved and it's a it's a hard industry.
Asia'h:8:07It is a lot of time and a lot of work and energy involved in, you know, but I mean, when it's something that you really want and that you really, really want, you'll do it. Exactly. No, that's just, that's just what it is. You gotta, you're gonna hear a lot more "no's" than you are yes'. So you just got to be prepared for that in itself.
Hellblazerbiz:8:32Exactly. And that's what made me go to have that passion to drive you through. Because if we don't have it then, you know, that's where people fall by the wayside and you see a lot of people, you know, they do give up because it's just too much and they just haven't got the that drive inside.
Hellblazerbiz:8:50Your drive is even more as I say, because you've been in an accident as well. and you pulled through a lot too and
Asia'h:9:02yeah. Yeah, I did. I did. I, it was a pretty bad accident I had about five years ago. and yeah, it was, it was pretty bad. I had a 50/50 percent chance of living and I made it and, you know, it took a lot of time to recover and get back to, to normal life and I had to teach myself, to walk again and how to talk again and how to, you know, just be mobile and not only physically but just, you know, in my spirit as well. And then my mind, and it was a, it was a lot of work. So yeah, I, I've always been, I've always been a fighter, you know, I've always, I've always had to prove myself. I grew up with all boys, so, you know, that didn't take it easy to eat. It wasn't like they were like, oh, this is little sister. Like, no, I was one of them. So I grew up just in a very strong family spiritually and physically as well, you know. So I've a very good family foundation that's always kept me, you know, I'm grounded and, and just strong, you know, and driven and, and very supportive family that's always just had my back and supported and supported me through every decision that I made, whether they agreed with it or not, you know, they're, they're there. So I think that just a, you know, a combination of all of those things, a strong family unit and a strong relationship with God and you know, all of that in my own personal drive that I have. It's just a combination for, you know, fearlessness, strength.
:11:02Yeah. No, fantastic attitude to have. How old were you when you started singing?
Asia'h:11:08I guess. I mean, my mom said because I was thinking before I could talk, so I mean I've been thinking, but I, I remember actually started. I started writing music and started writing songs when I was six. I was, yeah, I was writing songs, I was playing piano. My grandma had me in everything, every type of dance, class, piano, anything. I've always been very hyper so they, I think they just tried to like overload me with just things to do. So my whole life revolved around music and sports. Excellent. So anything that was sick or performance related? Um, piano lessons, dance lessons I'm performing at talent shows and at church and weddings and funerals and just any, any opportunity I had to just be performing. I was doing that and I was in every sport that there was gymnastics, cheerleading, jazz gymnasts, tap, softball, like everything. So, I think it just, I started writing music super young, like six when I started playing piano.
:12:35Great Way to get into it. Just to start playing the piano and play your own compositions.
Asia'h:12:48Oh yeah. I was in middle school and I would like skip class to like go to the bathroom and sing the songs that I wrote for my friends. I like go in the bathroom and they were like, come to the bathroom and I'd be like, tell me what you think about this. And I'm singing a song that I wrote. I'm paying attention.
:13:10I tried to learn the piano when I was younger, but I just couldn't get my fingers over the top. I ended up playing the trumpet because I got bored with piano. So I started playing the trumpet instead. It's so noisy that it could have annoyed my parents quite a lot. You've also had a great career in music too. DEF Jam. You've worked with him and Kenny Babyface Edmonds as well. So that's some pretty big names there.
Asia'h:13:42Yeah. Actually Babyface discovered me when I was, when I was on American idol actually. And He, uh, he calls me up and said he wanted to meet with me and we met. And started working together and then he took me over to La Reid, at def jam and went over to, went over there and started working on an album and L.A. Reid actually ended up leaving Def Jam and going to Epic Records. So I kind of just got lost in the shuffle of that whole movement. I didn't, you know, I didn't go over there so I was just kind of stuck over there at, at, at island Def Jam, just kinda chilling while the CEO went on to a different label. So that situation kind of just unfolded. But Kenny and I are still very, very great friends and we still work together. We actually did some of the music to get. Well, he did the whole soundtrack for the Bobby Brown story on BET. He did the entire soundtrack and I actually did some of the background vocals for the records. Okay. So yeah, we still work together and everything like that. And you know, we've had a few conversations about getting back in the studio and working on some new music to release as well. So people should be looking out for that too.
:15:16Excellent. Excellent. I mean, you've actually worked with some great names. So who would you love to work with today? Who would you really love to work with? I'll do it as a singer and then I'll do it as an actress.
Asia'h:15:37Okay. So who would I have really loved to work with in music? I would really love to work with for. Well I would love to work with Pharryl. I would love to work with. There's so many people. There's so many people. I'm trying to think who else would I like to work with in music? I mean I would love to just sit in on a session with Mariah Carey. I don't really care. Like it wasn't necessarily working together, not just like sit in a session with Mariah. That would be amazing. And then acting wise, are you talking directors or other actors?
:16:53So split that question into two as well. Which director? Who would you love to have direct you?
Asia'h:17:02right? Um, Quintin Tarantino.
:17:12love him. oh man. Um, and then acting..I would love to do something with Tiffany Haddish. I think she's so great. She's so funny and her energy, I think we would be like hilarious together.
:17:59Alright. So now I, I agree with you on. So you know, I think he If there could be any one dream get on my show would be amazing, but I just be lost because I wouldn't be able to speak because he talks at 10 million miles an hour and he knows everything about every single film that's out there. And I'll just be like.....
Asia'h:18:22I know that's crazy. He, I would, I would definitely just be like, what do you want me to do?,
:18:30yeah, I had the pleasure of speaking to someone who had a part in Django Unchained and he said, yeah, he's worked with Tarantino and he was just, like you just said the guy. He'd come in every morning. I get a lot of directors on and I'm not knocking them, but some of them will just go, right, let's get on, let's get on with the day. He said, Tarantino was so committed with it, and each morning he would say: "what are you waiting for making a movie guys?" And he was just like, you know, really, really energetic and his work is just phenomenal. Actually I watched Django Unchained in full for the first time about three or four weeks ago. I've not seen it in full before. And it's, I mean, I love Kristoph Waltz as well as an actor. He is brilliant, but it was just every single film of Tarantino's I just love.Which do you prefer? Music or acting?
Asia'h:19:33Both! Because they're both just a creative outlet. I started with music, so music is always my first love, the first boyfriend you know? But the more I started doing acting, I just, I fell in love with acting, you know, but I always just try to incorporate any opportunity that I get to try to incorporate my music or anything into any of the projects that I work on. I always try to do that. So I always try to incorporate music in some way, shape or form. I always comes back to me too. So it's like, you know, I love music, but I love acting. It holds is a different place. I have like a different place in my heart for acting that I do with music. Music is very personal and I think acting is more just entertainment. I don't know. Yeah, when I'm in the studio and I'm writing a song, it's like this is a very vulnerable personal moment for me that I'm right. What, regardless of whatever I'm writing, I'm really telling the story of myself or of my friend or my mother or my father or my brother, my story, something that I see happen versus acting. I'm playing someone else. It's not Asia'h, it's whatever my character is and I become her, you know? So it's different. It's a different type of creative energy that I give when I'm acting. I'm versus when I'm writing a song.
:21:50No, I totally understand that. It's very, very different art, so you'll be singing this personal because you're writing, if you think about your own experiences it's very moving, I mean I also get a lot of things too for difference in acting on stage and acting on screen as well because it's a big difference there in how you do it as well. I used to do stage acting in school and the qualification that I was and did things from pantomime dames have to macbeth and even musicals before age 19 but just life steered me to different didirection. But now it's steering me back now 20 years later
Asia'h:22:36it is going gonna steer you. That's the thing, you know, and, and you just should use one thing to build another. I mean I'm a person with many goals and aspirations and many dreams and I just think one should build off of another, you know, and you never know what's gonna you know what's going to take the lead.
:22:57Exactly. Exactly. For example only three years ago, I really started doing this. It was all it was called Ramblings of a Hellblazer. There was a show on TV called Constantine and the fans are called Hellblazers but the show got canned and it was a big thing and I couldn't speak on twitter. People are asking on twitter and I was trying to give motivational talks and stuff to people, but you're right, sorry. I was trying to give motivational talks. It just wouldn't work in 140 characters. And then just ended up doing a podcast, a five minute stupid impressions and making people laugh. And then I ended up talking to people and I was like, you know, well I enjoy this! I've been in one film last year. I'm now presenting premieres and screenings in London and doing Q&A's and, and building up that. I've got the idea for a film, a documentary film, and it does. You're right. No matter what you do, it also shows up and it comes right back at you. No matter what you're doing because your underlying passion will always come through.
Asia'h:24:12It always comes back. Yeah.
:24:15Excellent. Before we talk about Greenleaf and things. I know you were in Straight Outta Compton as well. How was it being in one of the biggest films out there, how was that?
Asia'h:24:32That was like my first big film. I didn't even know that I first of all, there's not even know that that movie was going to be as big as it was because when I auditioned for it, it was literally just like, you know, a couple to three lines and it said feature film. It didn't even have a title of the name for it, so I didn't know that it was going to be as, as big as it was. I had no idea and I still didn't know after we got done filming it, I still didn't know that it was going to be the biggest - one of the biggest, the biggest film in what? 2,000? 15, 2016. I think it was huge and you know, I was naked so it was like even better. So I was on the big screen.
:25:35Just happens to be the biggest film that became the biggest blockers of that year.
Hellblazerbiz:25:44Biggest of course in true Asia'h Epperson fashion my thing is expect the unexpected. That's what I always say with me. Expect you think that Oh, it might not happen like that or no, that's impossible. I don't ever see it going like that. That's what will happen in my life.
:26:11Oh No, that was pretty awesome. I mean obviously from the various other roles, but now because you've got a recurring role of a main role in Greenleaf, on my own, which is, you know, I mean, your character is Tasha Skanks, which made me laugh because I used to know a Tasha and she was a skank. So I had to say that it was just, it made me chuckle.
Asia'h:26:40Who came up with that name? I'm like, I don't know anything else.
:26:47It's a pretty weird name.
Hellblazerbiz:26:51It's my husband's name. He can take the blame [laughs].
:26:55True. So what regarding the show what's it all about?
Asia'h:27:05So it's a drama and it's a show about a church and about the drama that goes on behind closed doors that we don't ever hear about in the churches and especially in the African Community, the African American community. And so it talks a lot about, you know, there's everything, everything that, a real life that happens, money, drugs, going back and forth with your beliefs and your spirit, homosexuality, you know, it just touches on all the real life things that people go through that act like don't happen to people that go to church. Yeah. I don't know, somehow people think that people that go to church and it's mostly the people that go to church thinks that they're exempt from like real life situations. And so, that's what the show was about. I play a preacher's wife my husband has a problem with gambling and we lost our church due to his gambling and we came to this town to basically just get revenge on the Greenleafs'. And the show was to get revenge on the Greenleafs because the head pastor killed my husband's father. So we go to the town to get revenge on that family for doing that. So that's the just of the show and my character on the show.
:29:21Cool. So the head of the Greenleaf family, if I remember rightly, is Keith David, isn't it? He's got such a voice that just draws you in is brilliant.
Asia'h:29:34Oh yeah. Oh yeah,
:29:38That's great. I was going to say, I say I kind of do kind of sort of know where you're from because I'm the son of a preacher man to use a good old soul song. My dad was a minister for 30 years, 30 years. So I've seen quite a lot in the church not to the extent I think of over there where it's a bigger population, but because most of them were in their seventies and eighties so they couldn't really do too much. But yeah, I know where you're coming from. They're very good preomise. Obviously the show is also produced by Oprah,
Asia'h:30:14Oprah. It is, and she's a producer and an actor in the show.
:30:25Fantastic. What's it like working with her? She's just a huge personality.
Asia'h:30:32I haven't worked with Oprah yet. Oh, oprah, that she has like one or two episodes that she'll come in so she'll, she'll come in, Kinda have her day, her time and then she's out of the area now. She's not hanging around set and stuff. But she's very, you know, involved from head to toe. When it comes to me and my clothes and my fingernails, what my fingernails look like, to everything. Like when I walk on, when I walked in and they're like, Oh "Lady O" said that she wants us to take a picture of your outfit or she wants us to take a picture of your nails and make sure we approve them through Lady O, first. So she's very involved. As far as just everything about Tasha, everything about my character, she's super.
:31:32I love this. I would prefer her as president as well.
Asia'h:31:39Oh, Yes. Oprah for president. I agree. I concur. I concur.
:31:48Definitely. I won't get into politics. Don't worry. So, obviously, I mean, you know, greenleaf's out on OWN channel at the moment, but you're also been doing, like you mentioned before, the Bobby Brown story reaches on BET? You play Kim Ward?
Asia'h:32:48Yep. I played Kim Ward, which is, I'm Bobby Brown babies, mother. She has two of his children. I'm the one that he left Whitney Houston for. He left for Whitney Houston. So I'm his, you know, kind of his, his hometown sweetheart. You know, I'm from Boston, he's from Boston, you know, we grew up together. We met as teenagers and you know, that was that. I was the, you know, the hometown sweetheart. So we were friends, you know, we had a, we had a special, a special bond and yeah,we were together and then he ended up leaving me for Whitney Houston and then we had another little fling when he was with Whitney and then I got pregnant again and had our second child. So that was a little bit of drama with that. But that was awesome. That whole, that whole experience of, of shooting that was like, it was amazing just because of how involved everyone was.
Hellblazerbiz:34:02You know, Bobby Brown was on set every single day making sure everything was, how it was supposed to be that historically was told the right way and you know, and people like baby phase is coming. I'm coming there everyday because, you know, and then we had Tommy Bear, which is Bobby Brown's brother, which was his manager for 25 years, you know, he was there just the people that were really there and making sure that everyone was emulating these people correctly and doing the right things. So it was good. It was really good.
:34:43That is pretty impressive. It was going to ask how much input did he actually have on the show? And that sounds like you'd have a lot.
:34:54What other projects are there anything else that you've got coming up for? We're working on at the moment, but you're allowed to talk about maybe
Asia'h:35:08Yeah, some things in the works good. There are some things in the work. Just be expecting a lot more for me just in every way, you know, I'm working really hard, I'm grinding, I'm making sure that, you know, everything is getting set up the way that, that I would like my brand. I'm getting my youth together. I'm really focused on really aiming and zoning and towards certain projects of the direction that I want to go. So it's been you know, building my team, getting my team together. It's just a lot of work that's a lot of daily work of, you know, just keeping things on track.
:36:13No, no, it's quite a lot of things
Asia'h:36:20Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. But just be prepared to see and hear more from me, that's for sure.
:36:27Oh no, it was fantastic. It's been great to see more interest in talking to you for the past 40 minutes or so. You've got such a great vibrant personality and can't wait to see more on the screen
Asia'h:36:39thank you. Thank you.
:36:41I've got a signature question.
:36:46Think is a strange one. Don't worry. The premise behind this last year one of my guests was a guy who's been puppeteered with Jim Henson for 30 years as well as being in star wars and stuff and someone sent this question in and I was like, this is such a cool out there question. I want to ask everyone so if you could have a muppet created after youwhat kind of which muppet would it be and why? It can be new one or you could even have maybe one that's already there.
Asia'h:37:30If I could have created, what kind of character would it be like, oh my gosh, it would be. Let me see if I could have that was created it back and have a, if I can have a muppet after me, I'm named after me. It would be, it would be a motivational, like inspirational, motivational, high energy. . It would be like a well, just this super high. Huh?
:38:20I was going to say it brings to mind Red from fraggle rock. She's always so vibrant and energetic
Asia'h:38:33don't know which one that is because I don't know that show
:38:36That shows me my age. [laughs]
:38:48Excellent. Excellent. That's a really good choice. Asia-h, is there anything you'd like to say to people who are listening? One final thing before I stop the recording.
Asia'h:39:24Just stay focused on your goals, be productive, be proactive, don't take no for an answer. Turn the turn the "no"s and the maybes. When someone says no, just be like, oh, that means maybe that's what I do. Um, yeah, it stays close to your family and friends as possible and stay close to your spiritual leader, whoever that may be. And that's it