Entertainment

Fayetteville Native Feature in The Color Purple

“Dream big! Dream as big as you can. If you’re already dreaming big, your plan is already in your head. Go for it,” said actress Latisha “Tish Mone” Harden.

The Color Purple, the most talked-about movie in 2023, grossed $18 million on December 25th—the highest on a Christmas Day opening, according to Deadline.

The 1985 movie remake featured some notable cast members: Taraji P. Henson, Corey Hawkins, Fantasia Barrino-Taylor, and Colman Domingo, to name a few. The Fayetteville actress was blessed to have graced the stage amongst some of Hollywood’s greats.

Harden was featured in many films and staged plays. Some of her featuring roles include, The First Wives Club, Our King of People, and Cinnamon, which hit Tubi last year. That’s not all for the actress, who wears many hats as a singer, model, and entrepreneur of a film production company, Harden House LLC.

Harden was more than excited of seeing herself on the big screen. The columnist had a sit-and-chat interview with the songstress and actress to learn more about the genesis of her acting career, casting call, on-set experience, some of the influential black women cast, and future goals.

WHERE IT STARTED

Latisha “Tish Mone” Harden on the set of Fox’s Our Kind of People, Tish Mone/Instagram

Harden never had acting on her radar; she started as a singer. She was invited to audition for Dream Girls at the Cape Fear Regional Theater (CFRT). After being cast in Dream Girls, she established her acting career by auditioning and getting more roles at the CFRT, such as Mamma Mia and Music City.

After building her acting resume, she discovered a few production studios in Wilmington. There, she auditioned as an extra for a TV series, Our Kind of People, starring actor Morris Chestnut.

She was amazed at the many opportunities in the film industry. She made it work while working at Target, casting herself for roles. Her resume grew, opening doors to working as a stunt artist, production assistant, and set designer.

THE CASTING CALL

Harden heard about the casting through extensive research and submitted her resume. She auditioned for the stage play The Color Purple at the CFRT but didn’t get the role.

She may not have gotten the role, but God had a bigger plan for her. “I was really devastated because I really wanted to do this, but then I got that casting to be in the movie,” an excited Harden shared.

She was later hired at the CFRT as an understudy for the staged play. Harden’s work as an understudy paid off, as she knew the songs and choreography to help prepare for her role.

As she describes it as a blessing, a good feeling resonated within her to be a part of The Color Purple through the film and stage play. She states that the film opportunity worked in her favor.

“I would have had to learn all those moves by performing on stage every night at the Cape Fear Regional Theater and then trying to drive to Atlanta to film the movie.”

“I was very blessed that God gave the opportunity to me in that way, instead of what I had originally asked for,”

Latisha “Tish Mone” Harden

LIGHTS, CAMERA, ACTION

Harden’s participation in the milestone movie was a monumental experience. The first few days, she was an extra and later a dancer in the juke joint scene. Harden states her character went from a regular townsperson to a drunk person at the juke joint.

“I was involved in the fight scene. Everybody in that scene had so much fun. We had to keep doing it over and over again,” she shared.

She even went into detail about the scene location of the juke joint. She boards to the actual set after her hair, makeup, and photo shoot, with no idea she is going to a swamp. Harden noticed the roads getting smaller and smaller in the middle of nowhere. It was a surreal moment for her, as she had never seen a swamp before—seeing snakes and bees there. She was also on a real-life plantation and a duplicate version of a plantation within the production studios.

“It was quite an experience to have been there with the stars at the same time, but they were experiencing the same things we experienced on set—working in the dark at 2 a.m. and repeating lines,” Harden states.

Footage Location (Swamp) of the Juke Joint Scene; Courtesy of Latisha “Tish Mone” Harden

“It was so cold out there. Fantasia could not keep still. She will soon begin singing if she remains seated for an additional five minutes; currently, the entire group is singing. There’s footage of that online already,” she continued.

Although Harden was comfortable in her role, she admits she was nervous when she saw Oprah. During the sets, Oprah was in the background, speaking from the intercom. She just so happened to come on the set on Fantasia’s birthday, June 30, 2022, to thank everyone and bring a cake.

She also moved up in her role on set, doing standing work for some actors. She also networked with some of the crew, which helped her progress along the way. This film took a lot of work. Out of everything I worked on in the last two years, this film took a lot of work; 6 months is a short time.

“RAISE UP” – PETEY PABLO

She was blown away to discover many North Carolinians and those with ties to the state on set, from the dancers to actors, like Fantasia, to name a few. Some of her friends she works with would walk on set, and she couldn’t believe they too were getting ready to share this experience.

She even shared a funny, unforgettable moment with the leading actress involving a blanket during their late-night shoot.

“I carry a blanket on set because it gets cold. I had put my blanket down. Fantasia ends up being cold and picks up my blanket,” said Harden. Not knowing whose blanket, she says, “Who’s blanket is this?” to warm herself.

“I’m like, oh shoot, where’s my blanket? Where’s my blanket? I’m anemic, and it’s too cold,” she recalls.

After Fantasia realized she has her blanket, she says in the funniest way ever, “This is the only blanket we got on set.”

Fantasia and Ciara singing on the set of the Color Purple; Fantasia News Daily/YouTube

There, Fantasia opens up while they share the blanket about her nervousness to play Celie despite playing the role so many times on Broadway. Harden who admires the 2003 American Idol star’s poise and demeanor, said she was focused on doing whatever it took to execute her role.

Harden said, “she was humble enough to share that with me while excited enough to be here.”

Overall, it’s been an unimaginable experience for the Fayetteville native that brought her joy on set. “I couldn’t even live in the moment. I just had to go boom, boom, boom, back and forth to make sure I was where I was supposed to be,” she shared, describing her experience working on set.

BLACK GIRL MAGIC

Harden met a lot of black women during this unforgettable experience—some prophesied to her while others extended information.

The lesson she learned from the American Idol star is that she came prepared and is on the right path. She also shared her admiration for Henson’s great attitude and work ethic.

L-R: Taraji P. Henson on the set; Fun Selfie Picture of Latisha “Tish Mone” Harden in the Dressing Room; Harden posting with some of the actors during the Juke Joint Scene; Courtesy of Latisha “Tish Mone” Harden

“I think that all these women are going to get awards. I hope they get the recognition and pay they deserve for the hard work they put into these six months,” Harden states.

“The style says a lot for the arts—the musical theater, the film, the actors and dancers, the production teams, the set crews, and everybody,” she added, admiring what the women have done with the musical adaptation.

WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLDS

Harden is on the move, featuring in the following upcoming movies, Tyler Perry’s Six Triple Eight and The Supremes at Earls, filmed in Wilmington, NC. With the strike lift, she’s expected to get more gigs in line.

Working in film makes her want to bring resources and create opportunities to produce films locally, showing others the path.

Harden’s initiative is proof that it can happen to any aspiring actor. The journey hasn’t always been easy, but she believes her faith in God will take her place if she continues to dream big. She’s here to say, “You can do it.” All it takes is the initiative to step out on faith. Her big dreams of seeing herself on the big screen are a continuing reminder to push forward.

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