Summer of R&B Interview Series: Singer/Actress Taral Hicks Returns to Spotlight & Speaks to UB

Born in Harlem raised in the Bronx, New York, Taral Hicks was discovered at the age of 13 by Vy Higgenson at the Heckscher Theater in New York City. There is where she first gained the acting bug in the off broadway show called “Mama I Want To Sing“. Taral enjoyed acting and singing with the show for 4 years.

She auditioned for the role of Jane in the highly acclaimed film “A Bronx Tale” starring box office mega star Robert De Niro where after 15 callbacks and a nationwide search Taral Hicks was cast as “Jane“. Her Film credits range from “HBO Subway Stories” with Rosie Perez, “A Just Cause” Starring Sean Connery and Blare Underwood, “The Preachers Wife” Starring Whitney Houston, “Belly” Starring Taral Hicks, Nas, DMX, Forbidden Fruits, Starring Freddro Starr, Taral Hicks, “The Salon” Starring Vivica Fox, and several more. Taral Hicks has made many Television appearances including “Soul Food” the series, “100 Centre Street“, “Leaving Matt Waters” and a String of independent films.

Taral has done modeling for Essence Magazine, Akademicks Clothing Campaign, Carson Hair products
Taral Released “This Time” an album under the Motown Label , and quickly became loved for her sweet rendition of the remake song “Silly“. Taral Hicks is a talented Actress and Singer who was recently cast in mega box office film director, Tyler Perrys “Aunt Bams Place” She is currently working on her new EP slated to release soon. Taral Hicks continues to explore all the talent God has blessed her with, and looks forward to continuing her journey in the entertainment business.

Recently Taral spoke to Tishelle from UrbanBridgez.com about her incredible career thus far, from her acclaimed roles in “A Bronx Tale” and “Belly,” to her Motown debut album and her current role in Tyler Perry’s “Aunt Bam’s Place.” Taral also speaks on how she got her start, what she wants fans to know about her role in “Belly,” her favorite recording artists and her upcoming new music!

Taral Hicks is back!

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UrbanBridgez.com: How do you first get your start in the business?
Taral Hicks: I started in the business in a off Broadway theater. In a show called “Mama, I want to sing,” I was an usher there for about two years. My sisters Miriam and Datra Hicks were actually in the play. And seeing them up there every night as I walked people to their seats, I was like no I don’t need to be down here doing this. I need to be up there doing what they’re doing. I was about 12 years old and one day someone didn’t show up and I got my opportunity because I knew all of the songs, I knew all of the lines and basically they were like alright, stick her up there. I got up there and I never left! That’s how I got my start and I knew that being in entertainment was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life and it worked out that way.

UrbanBridgez.com: What’s been the biggest challenge you’ve faced in the business?
Taral Hicks: I think the biggest one is, everybody isn’t going to like what you have to offer. I’m just a really loving person and I really hate to compete. I believe there are so many gifted and talented people that god has placed in this world and what’s for you is for you, what’s for me he will give it to me. I just want to see everyone succeed and accomplish their goals in life. So I would have to say rejection and dealing with the negative things that people feel they need to say. Especially when it’s negative, that’s the hardest challenge for me.

UrbanBridgez.com: Your debut album is amazing, till this day you’ve done the best remake of Silly! What’s your fondest memory about recording that album?
Taral Hicks: Awww, thank you! I remember being in the studio recording and working with all the different writers and producers. I had so much fun creating “This Time.” Alot of people don’t know, but I was one of the first people to work with Missy Elliott, so working with her and to see her blow up to this mega huge person that she is today, I was like wow I’m apart of her humble beginnings. I also loved shooting all of the video’s for my singles, Distant Lover and Silly.

UrbanBridgez.com: So many people know you as Kesha from Belly and you were amazing!
Taral Hicks: Thank you!

UrbanBridgez.com: Take us back to filming, what excited you the most about filming that movie?
Taral Hicks: Kesha was such a vulgar character I wasn’t sure if I wanted to play her, but I knew if I could pull her off and be believable, she would show my range as far as an actress. I’m nothing like her and all who knows me personally wonder how I pulled her out of me (laughs). So it was cool to play a character that I am completely opposite to.

UrbanBridgez.com: Do you keep in contact with any of the cast still?
Taral Hicks: I do not, that was wow over a decade ago. I do see Lavita (Raynor) on Facebook and we do hit each other up like hi, how are you, happy you’re doing well god bless. That type of stuff, but I don’t really see or hang out with anybody from that cast. One thing I do want to say about that movie is it’s not me in the sex scene and that was one of the things about the movie I didn’t like (that it was added in). But overall it was a great movie and the message from Belly is what I wanted people to get, A black woman who struggled in life but at the end made better choices.

UrbanBridgez.com: I’m glad you put that out there because alot of us didn’t know, I mean so many know you from that role. You’re also in A Bronx Tale, one of the few blacks in the movie and you were young. Did you know at the time and understand what was really going on in the film with all the racist things and that nature?
Taral Hicks: I did understand that there was an interracial relationship that was going to happen within the movie, as far as all of the hate and stuff that was taking place in the movie I started understanding as we were filming. So this is what this is all about and wow the Italians really couldn’t stand the Black people. What’s really funny about landing the role of Jane is. I honestly didn’t know who Robert De Niro was at the time. I think that’s why I got the part. I lived a theater life all of my teenage years that’s where my gift of acting was developed. I didn’t watch much TV. So when they said you girls are auditioning for Robert De Niro I was not phased (laughs). I said ok I’m going to audition for some Italian dude ok whatever. Then I noticed in the audition the girls were saying oh my god I’m going in to see Mr. De Niro and I was like why are they acting like that you know. So I went in and did my thing and once I got the part, I did some research and learned I’m working with a legend! But I feel like I did it yesterday because people who love it keep it alive and they’re always complimenting me on it and talking about it as their favorite movie. That makes me feel great and I considered it a great opportunity to enter into the film and TV industry. I have to say that was God pushing me. A Bronx Tale is over a decade ago but I feel like it was yesterday.

UrbanBridgez.com: Your latest project Aunt Bam’s Place is with Tyler Perry, tell fans about it and how they can own it?
Taral Hicks: Well you can own it by going to Amazon, Target, Walmart or Best Buy. Those are the places you can get it. Working with Mr. Perry was a great experience. Again I started on stage as a child before film, so given the opportunity to go back on stage was like wow I’m at home again. It reminded me so much of when I was on stage as a kid with the Mama, I want to sing just on a different spectrum, Mr. Perry is a perfectionist he gives the works! My very talented and amazing sister singer and actress Datra Hicks has worked with him many times on many of his projects, to get the opportunity to work with him as well was awesome and I really do hope to work with Mr. Perry again. If not stage, one of his movies. I know I could pull off one of his characters really good (laughs).

UrbanBridgez.com: Did he offer you any advice or anything you took away from working with him?
Taral Hicks: Mr. Perry sent me a message telling me not to give up, and that he was truly blessed by my performance in “Aunt Bams”and continue to bless you all my supporters with my gifts. To hear that from a Mogul such as Mr. Perry who is just putting out nothing but bangers right now, that’s reassurance to let me know I’m doing the right thing and I’m never going to give up. This business gives you slow points, it gives you high points, mid-way points, but through it all if you stick with it there is going to come that time that you’re going to hit that one project that is going to take you where you’ve been wanting to be all your life. That’s what I’m waiting for and when it comes, you better believe that I’m going to be shown in a great light and I just want to inspire some young girl out there, some young man out there to know you can be true to yourself and still do this. I had to regroup and get focused. I have two beautiful boys now, one 2 and one 12; Jayden and Joel and a very supportive husband. I have a family life and anything that I take from now on is going to be a representation of me as well as them and the God within me!

UrbanBridgez.com: I love it! You worked with another UB favorite Parris Bennett, how was it working with her on this project & were you a fan of hers before this?
Taral Hicks: I love Paris, I love her whole family Ann Nesby her grandmother and Jamecia her mother. They are such a talented family, that girl was born to sing. I can’t wait until she drops her music, I’m definitely a supporter. So yeah Paris is great, her daughter is adorable and I really wish her the best that this life has to offer her.

UrbanBridgez.com: Will you ever record another album, please say yes?
Taral Hicks: Oh definitely! Now is it going to be what everybody wants to hear, I hope so. Because I’m going to be singing about life, I’m going to be singing about God and love. Really want people to find healing through my music for situations they may be going through, music that makes you feel good, music that encourages you and uplifts. That’s the type of music. That’s the type of music that I want to make moving forward and coming back into the game. I just really hope my fans stick with me and I hope that I’m able to be a blessing to their lives.

UrbanBridgez.com: What else are you working on?
Taral Hicks: Other than that, alot of people know I love kids and I work with kids. I do plan to open up my own school and I’m working on that right now. Where I will be providing early education growth for children 6 weeks through pre-school age. I’m a lover of life and people and that is one of my goals to own my own school. Children are blessings from God. So I look forward to accomplishing this goal. You can look out for my music, I’m auditioning and hope to land something really great. Again I’m very hesitant about what I take these days. So it’s aright with me if y’all don’t see me all the time, but when you do see me it’s going to be something worth seeing me in and I’m going to leave it at that (laughs)

UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some of your favorite current recording artist?
Taral Hicks: I will always love Coko (SWV), she will always be my favorite!

UrbanBridgez.com: They’re new album (I Missed Us) is the bomb!
Taral Hicks: It’s awesome, it is awesome! I love her, we’re sisters. I’ve always been a fan of hers. I also love Keke Wyatt. Of course Brandy and I love Monica, Jennifer Hudson, Kelly Clarkson, they are keeping R&B alive the way us 90’s artist remember it. And I love me (laughs). I’m going to stick me in there too!

UrbanBridgez.com: Is there anything else you want to leave with your fans?
Taral Hicks: I just want to say to my fans, that you guys are my angels. I feel that you were God sent to me, even through all of the ups and downs that this industry has dealt me; you guys have been there encouraging me on Twitter and Facebook. A lot of people have been asking where is Taral Hicks? What is she doing, I want you guys to know that I am working hard to put out, quality music and quality movie projects for you guys. So you guys can be proud of me and continue to support me. Thank you once again for this interview and Kesha Lambert Photography for the amazing photos. I’m speaking once again and getting my voice out there to let y’all know I’m well and I’m alive, God is good and Amen!

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