Music, Acting, Longevity & Tyler Perry – The Chandra Currelley Story
The multi-talented Chandra Currelley has the range to do it all, from acting on television, movies and onstage in plays as well as singing. Currelley is best known for her contributions to Tyler Perry plays, movies and TV shows, but she’s already made a name for herself within the entertainment industry as a legendary singer. As Tyler Perry’s For Better or Worse enters it’s fifth season, Chandra Currelley has become the breakout star of the series playing the down to earth housekeeper, Ms. V. Chandra sat down with Parlé Magazine to discuss her career and plans for the future.
Parlé Magazine: How did you end up landing the role of Ms. V on For Better or Worse?
Chandra Currelley: I met Tyler Perry back in 1993 when he came to see me at a play. He ended up asking me to do one of his first plays, “I Know I’ve Been Changed.” From there we built a working relationship and a friendship. He gave me work by putting me in a lot of his plays (i.e. Madea’s Class Reunion, What’s Done In The Dark, Madea Gets a Job…) When he did his first movie, Diary Of a Mad Black Woman, he gave me a cameo as an emcee at the club (The club was named after Chandra in the movie) Shemar and Kimberly go to. Tyler Perry eventually got into television while I was still doing his plays. When he came up with For Better Or Worse, he had a character that he had written for me. I did an episode with Tasha Smith, who’s on the show and the people loved me enough to keep having me come back. This season of the show is going to be my character’s breakout season, there’ll be lots of episodes that’ll feature my character Ms. V.
Parlé: On top of being an actor on a hit TV show, you also have a career in the music business, can you tell us about that?
Chandra: Before I ever got into acting I was a singer, I was the lead singer of SOS Band. Before that I worked with Roy Ayers, this was about the time Mary Davis, the original singer had left the group to pursue a solo career. They wanted someone who could sound like Mary but not sound like her at the same time. Someone from the group reached out to me when they heard me on Chaka Khan’s “We Can Work It Out,” which was originally a Beatles’ song. They asked me if I could sing like Mary and I told them, “If you pay me, I can do it.” I was with the group for 7 years. We had many top twenty hits, the first single I did with them went top five. I ended up leaving the group in the early 90’s to go into theater and that’s where I met Tyler Perry.
Parlé: You’ve had success in both music and acting, if you had to pick one, which would it be?
Chandra: I would say music because that’s how my whole journey started. If I hadn’t been singing I would have never got into acting. As an artist, I’ve learned to be versatile which has allowed me to take everything I do to a different level each time. Sadly, when you get to a certain age in the entertainment industry those calls don’t come in like they used to so it helps to be able to branch out into many different fields to keep myself active.
Parlé: You’ve recently started work with a new play called “The Strength of Love,” can you tell us about that?
Chandra: It’s a locally produced play here in the Atlanta area. It’s a play that asks the question, “How deep is your love?” You ever had someone you like ask you to do something and it’s like “Whoa, I don’t love you that much.” This play is like that, it challenges us to rethink our relationship with others. The script is based on a book “The Five Languages Of Love” by Gary D. Chapman, he wrote the book for couples. I’ll only be in the play for one night but I do hope the play gets a chance to tour.
Parlé: Besides the Tyler Perry Productions, where else might people have seen you?
Chandra: Working with Tyler Perry is probably what I’m best known for, which is cool because he’s helped me pay my bills. Before that, I worked in regional theater with Tony Award winning director Kenny Leon, he owns one of the few African American theater companies in Atlanta. I also did a play with Kandi Burress (Real Housewives of Atlanta). I toured a lot with my music last year. I’m always working.
Parlé: How do you find time to relax for yourself?
Chandra: I have a fabulous husband and a gifted son who understand what I need. They help take the stress and pressure off me. There are two things I love to do when I have time, (1) looking at old classic movies and (2) playing Xbox. When I’m writing or creating and I get stuck, playing Madden helps me unwind.
Parlé: Are you working on any upcoming projects?
Chandra: I have an album out called Relationships. It features a lot of cameos from well known people in the music industry that people may not know but should. I have Jennifer Holiday’s music director doing one song on the album. I called it Relationships because I was bringing all these people together. I also called it that because we live in an age where people are so disconnected from one another. I wanted to do something to bring us all closer together. Pearl Cleage is a playwright that I’ll be honoring in May and I’m working on another TV show pilot as well as a few music videos to promote the album.
Parlé: Where can the readers and fans reach you online?
Chandra: My main website is www.chandracurrelley.com but they can also find me on Twitter @chandracurrelly, facebook.com/Chandra.currelley and Instagram @3AGAPE.
Parlé: Do you have any words of inspiration for the readers?
Chandra: Prepare yourself for longevity because you don’t know how long something will last. Work your craft until you can’t do it anymore. Sometimes you’ll do something and you won’t get paid or you won’t get paid enough but stick with it. Sometimes people need to hear ‘No’ because everything’s not for everyone but that’ll allow you to find what works for you.