Written by Carolyn Desalu
Photography by Adam Fedderly
Makeup: Anthea King; Hair Angela Stone
NEW KID ON THE
â€œIâ€™m happy to do what I love and pay my mortgage,â€ jokes Tika Sumpter, the newest cast member of both The Game and Gossip Girl. In the former, she plays an ex-model in rehab trying to be brave. Her Gossip Girl role, however, is quite the opposite. â€œMy character is Raina Thorpeâ€”a female Chuck Bass [played by Ed Westwick] who is supersmart, strong, ambitious, powerful, and a daddyâ€™s girl.â€
Raised in Queens and Long Island, Sumpter always knew she wanted to act. â€œIn high school, I went on open casting calls [and would wait] for hours just to be told, â€˜Youâ€™re not what weâ€™re looking for,â€™â€ she says.Those days appear to be over.
Sumpter was the last actor to read for the Gossip Girl role, yet she was confident that she could play the part. â€œI went in without any doubts,â€ she says. â€œI read [the script] and wrote, â€˜Raina Thorpe is Tika Sumpter,â€™ in my journal. Raina knows what she wants and thatâ€™s me.â€ A week later, she was hired, and the producers and directors were willing to work around her filming schedule. Sumpter also has a recurring role on One Life to Live.â€œMy character didnâ€™t get killed, so [you never know],â€ she says.
While the devious darlings of Gossip Girl are always clad in designs fresh off the most exclusive runways, Sumpter describes her personal style as Bohemian-chic.Â â€œI feel most confident when Iâ€™m comfortable,â€ she says. For her, that can mean donning Oscar de la Renta and Carolina Herrera or Anthropologie and Victoriaâ€™s Secret.
Sumpter has been dating the same international ex-pro surfer for four years, but is quick to mention that â€œhe hasnâ€™t put a ring on it.â€ While sheâ€™s reluctant to elaborate about the relationship, she does share tidbits on whatâ€™s in her journal: dreams, hard days, gratitude, cries out to God, and future goals, such as doing another movie (she was in Stomp the Yard 2), becoming a series regular, producing, and mentoring young girls. â€œI promise to be true to myself always,â€ she says.