“I will see you amongst the stars” Jennifer Holiday, diva of stage and music told Trenyce after winning the NAACP Act-So Music Contemporary Award…ever since then the vocalist has been driven to become one of the most successful all-around entertainers in Hollywood.
A gifted singer since the age of 2yrs old, she continued to write songs, form groups and sing in every school function possible. Her big break came when she auditioned for American Idol season 2 along with 100,000 other hopefuls and was voted 5th in the country.
Shortly after Idol, Trenyce was introduced to acting by playing the lead in the E Lynn Harris book turned stage play, “Not A Day Goes By” starring Emmy Award winning actress, Jackee Harry.
Trenyce went on to star in productions with the likes of Boris Kodjoe, Sherman Hemsley, Ginuwine,Phyllis Yvonne Stickney, Vanessa Williams, Iyanla Vanzant, Terri J Vaughn, Tatyana Ali, Syleena Johnson, and Angie Stone and continued to add more stage productions to her ever growing resume such as Dreamgirls and The Vagina Monologues.
She was reintroduced to TV as Portia, the wanna-be stylist in David E. Talbert’s stage-play, “Love in the Nick of Tyme” with screen-star, Morris Chestnut, R&B crooner, Avant, and star of Curb Your Enthusiasm, Ellia English, which became a BET sensation.
The following year, she and her co-stars, which included fellow American Idol, Ruben Studdard, were nominated for a Grammy in the category of Best Musical Album for the Broadway 30th Year revival of Aint Misbehavin.
Currently she is the lead female singer in the Musical Concert dedicated to Michael Jackson “Thriller Live” on London’s West End and recording an album. Trenyce also filmed her first Feature Film, Kick Ass 2 starring Jim Carrey, Morris Chestnut and Chloe Moretz!
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell us about your role in Kick Ass 2?
Trenyce: I play Mindy/Hit Girls cheerleading coach. She’s pretty much a bad ass, but in this particular movie she’s trying to live a normal teenage life. So some of the girls from her school convince her to join the cheerleading squad. You know back in school how the cool kids are like you need to do this in order to fit in? So basically I’m the cheerleading coach that she’s performing in front of.
UrbanBridgez.com: How did this come about for you?
Trenyce: The interesting thing is my agency is IAG in London. They sent me the audition and it was actually for a woman in her 40’s and 50’s. I’m thinking oh my god, there is no way that I am going to get this role, I’m too young. They was like go in for it anyway, it will be good to be seen by the casting director. So I went out and bought a track-suit and everything for the audition, you needed one for it. At the audition they liked me right away, but I didn’t think in my mind I was going to get the role because I did not fit the description. So to get called back months later, I didn’t even remember because I had auditioned for so many things after that. So when they told me, I had to sit in my dressing room for a moment and really absorb what they were saying.
UrbanBridgez.com: How did you enjoy working with Morris Chestnut and Jim Carrey?
Trenyce: Unfortunately I wasn’t in the same scenes as them. This is the interesting thing. Morris was shooting a film in London and he came to my show. So when I met him and his wife Pam outside, I said by the way Morris I just got booked for this film “Kick Ass 2.” He was like no way I’m in that movie. I was like what (laughs). So it’s not like he pulled a favor for me or anything. It was all my hard work and going for the audition. Jim Carry I met at a boat party he had for the film. The thing about him I remember is I watched him walk around and introduce himself to everybody that he didn’t know. And at least speak to people one on one at least ten minutes a person. So just the humility of it all and seeing him in that way. It was really kind of touching for someone like me a performer, I love meeting celebrities that I have always admired. And to have them be just as nice and approachable in real life is great. It makes you want to continue to be the person you know you should be.
UrbanBridgez.com: Tell people why they should go out and see this film?
Trenyce: I think people should go out and support because the first one was great, but the second one tops the first one 1000% I’m one of those people that’s like don’t make a part 2 because the first one was so good (laughs). It’s hard to duplicate excellence, but the #1 reason to go is because it actually does go far and beyond the first one.
UrbanBridgez.com: Last time we spoke you had just finished doing the Love in the Nick of Tyme play and now you’re doing Thriller Live in London as the lead female singer, What’s the best part for you doing this play?
Trenyce: The best part about me being apart of this show is being apart of the Michael Jackson legacy. You never really realize how many people he touched until you are one of the performers that are standing there singing one of his songs and watching the audiences reaction. Michael Jackson has some very special fans. Young and old generations and color, creed, sexual orientation..like the audience is just the world. It’s a global phenomenon. The way that he really, really touched people. Michael is #1 to me when it comes to the word icon! It’s personal to me as well because my first time ever seeing him was when he put the coat on James Brown at the BET Awards. Unfortunately we never met face to face. This also gives me a chance to sing a long to his music and step in his shoes a little bit. It’s the same feeling I get when I sing a Whitney Houston song. That’s a special moment for those that get to meet people like that. I’ve actually met the Jackson family, they came to see the show and they had actually made plans for Michael to come and see it before he passed away. So all of us in the show kind of walk around like his presence is in the building. We’re performing with his grace, we pray before the show that his spirit is in the building and is touching people. We know we can never touch him musically, but at least let his essence work through us. It’s a great show to be apart of.
UrbanBridgez.com: How have you adjusted from living in the U.S. to now London, was it a hard transition to get use to?
Trenyce: It actually was you know. Living in London has been almost a culture shock for me, if I’m being honest. Even though we both speak the same langue, which is English. There seems to be a barrier between the two still. I didn’t know that when I moved here, because I’m so use to the queen and royalty and that sort of thing. We all have certain countries and you expect what you see on television you expect that when you go there. What I was not expecting was the energy of New York. It’s like New York here with an English accent (laughs). It has that kind of vibe because everybody is on the go and the subway is jam packed. They say chips when it’s fries, it’s just certain things that I didn’t expect to have to get use to. But it’s been good, I do miss the weather of America. Specially L.A. where I’m from, I do miss that a lot (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: What are your thoughts on the current state of American Idol, with the last season and the musical chairs with the judges?
Trenyce: I didn’t watch it in total, but I did catch little glimpses of the show here and there. I don’t really have an opinion of it to be honest. It’s like American Idol to me signifies a lot of things for me. It signifies a moment in my life where I was really new to the business. It’s kind of like going back and watching home movies from where you were like 5 or 6. And you’re like oh mom turn that off you know (laughs). At the same time when I watch them, I can see how far I’ve come and things I would do differently. Otherwise, I’m not really connected to the show. It’s probably because I haven’t did a lot of things with the show since I left. I’ve tried my best to continue to move forward. I appreciate my time on there and everything but I like to keep it like – okay I did that, great! If I run into people I’m very happy to and to catch up and things like that. Although I still have people asking me about what they should do when they audition. I happily give advice and stuff. As far as the musical chairs goes, I just think the very first judging panel will always be the one that people respect the most. There’s nothing wrong with trying to spice the show up and things like that. People like Jennifer Lopez who has had a career since the 80’s, someone like that on the panel is a good thing for the contestants. Mariah Carey, oh my gosh that’s just a legend! Of course she understand what you’re going through as a singer. From vocals to picking the right or wrong song. So I think each new judge has had something to contribute to the show, so I don’t see anything bad with it.
UrbanBridgez.com: With the former black contestants filing a discrimination lawsuit against the show and with how you were to me played during your season for a past mistake, do you think their claims are valid? Specially with me and how they handled your situation on the show, which I didn’t like at all.
Trenyce: I agree, with what you said about my situation. The first thing that I knew I needed to understand about the show once I was off the show, whatever you do when you’re young or whatever – it’s very possible that it will forever hunt you. I made a very bad judgment call by befriending someone at the time. I’ve gone through all of that with explaining what it was and what it wasn’t and all of that. When the judge said to me, when you leave here I don’t ever want to see you again! I said back to her, you will not! I believe that I was 17 or 18 years old at the time. I don’t think for me, that was something that should have been brought to light. Unless they were going to use it as a positive to say, which is what I asked the producers. When I told them about my situation I don’t mind using my situation as long as it’s in a way where I can help other people who are watching. Like look where I am, despite being caught up in the wrong crowd. Things like that. But is it a race thing? It’s weird because in one hand I have to say yes. There were times that we would be backstage and I’m not going to say who, but someone who worked for them. Said to me, they’re kind of putting you all in groups as the darkies. And there are too many darkies on the show and stuff like that.
Trenyce: Yeah, so those types of things were said. Of course it made you feel less than and all of that. With that said, Ruben won so I think the producers and everyone working on the show felt everyone had a role to play. I don’t think that they took our lives into consideration. I.E. when I’m off the show, I still need to have a job. I still want to be a singer. I still want to thrive in this business. For some of us we were not able to do that right away. Because we were constantly cleaning up the mess they had put out there. I take me and Frenchie (Davis) for instance..I’ve talked to Frenchie quite a bit about this when it first happened. We were both kind of in the same boat. She had her pictures out from when she had to do something to pay for school. Now when you fast-forward to who we are now, just think about it. Like if we were really bad people like the show portrayed us as being – she’s a very articulate, well spoken and talented woman and so am I. So if we were really such terrible people that did not deserve to be on the show, then I just wish that they had just not let me on the show. Do you know what I mean?
UrbanBridgez.com: Instead of allowing you on and bringing the dirt out later.
Trenyce: Exactly, instead of saying it doesn’t matter. Then you put me on the show and then humiliate me! For all the world to see, so that my mother, my father, my sister and anybody associated with the name Cobbins would have to then go and explain, no she isn’t like that. She was a straight A student, she was this, she was that but just made a bad judgment call. Recently what I think that has kind of helped me deal is that there have been plenty of celebrities that have done things, since they’ve been celebrities. Most of the time people say, oh give them a second chance. From Chris Brown to Lindsey Lohan and all these different people who have made mistakes and I believe in second chances. Unfortunately at the time we were on the show, it was a new show and people really felt like they knew you from the show. So whatever they put out about us, people took it to heart. Like I’m voting for you, so I’m not going to vote for a criminal. That really, really hurt because I knew that I was not that! Now when it comes to the guys going after the money and stuff…I don’t think they should have made it a race thing. I don’t think it should have been a race thing at all, that’s why I’m like the race thing I don’t know. It’s going to be hard to prove that when you’ve had successful black winners and all of that stuff. If you’re going to sue, just do it for defamation of character. I do wish them the best with all of that and they approached me about it, I didn’t think that my case which was a valid one. I could of sued them. With this case I didn’t want to be lumped in with them because it’s a completely different thing all together. But if I wanted to sue I think the show would have something to be worried about (laughs).
UrbanBridgez.com: Very true!
Trenyce: Because my record was expunged and for them to go and dig up my record and mug shot from when I was like 17 & a judge had said to me it’s done and dusted. They wouldn’t have known about it if I had not said it.
UrbanBridgez.com: Oh wow, I never knew that either.
Trenyce: Oh yeah, because the question was..and I went over this a million times in my head. With my lawyer friend and my mother, we talked about this before I went on the show. So the question was, have you ever been arrested or convicted of a crime? With the way it was worded, have you ever been arrested? Well I have, but if I was a criminal I would of just lied about it and said no. But with me and my character, when I feel guilty about something or want to make sure I’m just being completely honest. So if I win this show, they have all of the cards. So I explained it, in a 3 or 4 page letter, with my audition papers and all of the paperwork and questioner. So they knew, that’s the only reason why they knew. So if I did go and sue them, because I was approached about suing them separately. I probably would win! It’s a matter of them opening up an expunged record just for ratings or they didn’t want this particular person to win. Or whatever the reason was, because allegedly, you have to say that behind everything (laughs). So allegedly if that was the reason, there were other ways to get me off of the show. So why use that, something that is very detrimental to a persons character. So I decided over the years it was not worth it, the glory would be continuing being successful at what I’m doing. And put as many great things in the universe so that none of that stuff matters anymore. The more I talk about it the better I feel because I use to feel like it was something I needed to hide. What I realized is I am helping more people by telling my story. By saying no I am not perfect, my story isn’t 100% gold, there are some bones in my closet and if I show them to you, then there is nothing else for anybody else to say!
UrbanBridgez.com: You released the “Free To Fall” video last year and got us hyped for some new music. Are you currently in the studio?
Trenyce: With the music thing, there have been times where I have given up on it and I take a little break and then the studio calls me again. It pulls me back in and I get inspired again. Moving to London made me inspired all over again. To do something completely different, so I’m going in the vain of disco and soul. Like Diana Ross and Donna Summer type of music at the moment. It’s all available on my Souncloud. I’m shooting a video in the next couple of weeks, so you’ll get another video. So it’s interesting that you brought that up (laughs). I’m bit more grown and I fit in my skin more in my 30’s. You just start to be more womanly and sexy. It’s a new and improved me. The music thing will never go away for me.
UrbanBridgez.com: Who are some of your influences, whether it be music, film or stage?
Trenyce: Kerry Washington is my Beyonce.’ She’s just an all around and I hate to say the word perfect but she is the epitome of a successful, intelligent, humble, incredibly talented human being. It has nothing to do with her being black or none of that. Just her as a soul is exactly what I want to be “when I grow up.” I love to hear her speak, she is regal even for a woman in her 30’s. She just has the type of soul that I feel like has been here already. She’s following the footsteps to me like a Cycle Tyson. She’s just going to be around forever. I feel that same way about Viola Davis, I feel she is very strong as an actress. As soon as she steps foot on the screen, you’re drawn in. Her SAG Award speech, made me get up out of my bed and say now is not the time to give up. I love when people can speak to you without knowing they’re speaking to you. Those two woman have probably been my saviors these last two years without even knowing it. It’s just so many people that you feel their energy, like through the TV and you can tell when a person is putting on for an interview. Those two do it for me, so I will stick to those two for the moment.
UrbanBridgez.com: Is there anything you want to leave with your fans?
Trenyce: The video comes out in September and please go support “Kick Ass 2!”