Before actress Tasha Smith found success in Hollywood, she struggled to survive as a young woman growing up in Camden, New Jersey. Gayle talks with Tasha, who stars in the Tyler Perry movie Why Did I Get Married?, about her difficult childhood and why she never let go of her dream of becoming an actress.
Tasha says she is a victim of childhood physical and sexual abuse. Her single mother was only 15 when she had Tasha and her twin sister, and her mother struggled with drug addiction for many years. Tasha says she was an angry, rebellious teen who got into fights, sold nickel bags of marijuana and bartended at a strip club before the age of 14. "I was the kid you did not want your kids to hang with," she says.
Despite Tasha's rough start in life, it was her friendship with actress Tisha Campbell at age 15 that gave her hope for the future. "She inspired me as a young girl and it made me really hold onto that dream of being an actor," she says. Tasha has since starred in such TV series as Boston Common and in 2007 landed a breakthrough role in Tyler Perry's Daddy's Little Girls.
Tasha says she speaks candidly about her past in order to inspire other young people to never give up. "I don't want to be a celebrity—I want to be an influence," she says. "I feel like in order for me to be an influence, I have to be honest about my own life and about the things that I've gone through and that I've overcome."
Printed from Oprah.com on Tuesday, December 10, 2013