Actress Jaclyn Betham shines with her role of 'Amanda' on Tyler Perry's “The Haves and Have Nots”. On the interracial series, which follows the complicated dynamic between the rich and powerful and the hired help who work for them, Betham plays the daughter of a wealthy family whose expectations she tries to live up to despite struggling with dark troubles of her own. It is delving into those heavy issues that the talented actress says is what she most enjoys about her character on the show, which has become the OWN network's highest rated drama to date. In a new interview, Betham discusses how she prepared for 'Amanda's' challenging on-screen moments, the twists and turns viewers can expect on "The Haves and Have Nots" in the second season (premiering January 7); as well as how her extensive dancing background benefitted her upon becoming an actress!
What is it like starring on a show that is on Oprah Winfrey's network, OWN, and working with Tyler Perry, as the creator, writer and director of the series?
Jaclyn- When I first found it was a Tyler Perry show, I thought it was really, really cool. And when you find out that it's Oprah Winfrey's network, you couldn't really ask for a bigger opportunity. It's really cool to have Tyler Perry and Oprah Winfrey as your bosses. Tyler is honestly the most inspiring, hardworking, humble man that I've ever met. He's had so much success but he's still such a hard-worker. He is very caring; he works with us one-on-one. He directs, writes, produces and is the creator of the show. He does it all. We work with him everyday. Our pace is extremely quick; we shoot an episode a day so it's kind of like a soap opera schedule. It's really quick and I think to have someone like Tyler, we're so blessed. Working at that pace can get really hard and stressful but I think with him it never is because he's such an amazing person to work with and work for. Everyone on the show works really well together. Everyone is a hardworker and everyone cares about each other. We have a really great cast.
What are you most enjoying about your role of Amanda? She definitely has a lot going on! Not a dull character at all based on what we saw last season.
Jaclyn- It was really hard last season in the sense that I'm a very outgoing personality and Amanda is very introverted, and she's got a lot going on but internal. She doesn't really have an outlet. She was a cutter. And you find out she has all this money and Candace now wants to get her fortune and get that $12 million. But throughout the second season, it was so fun to play her because she starts coming out of her shell. A lot of bad things happen to her in the first season and throughout the second season she starts to get her revenge. She becomes more of her own person, through the Amanda way. Probably not in the best way she finds her own person, but it was fun to play because she's so opposite of who I am. I had to do a lot of research to figure out this character and I think it's every actor's dream to be able to really play and to have fun with these crazy characters. And I think to have a character start out so innocently and have her go through all these things and kind of figure it out and play the transition and develop this character- I think that's probably been the most fun part for sure. It's a hard role. She's a really hard role to play so just throwing myself into that has probably been the most enjoyable for sure.
Is there a moment that you have had with her that really stood out to you with her as an actress? A storyline maybe that you felt was the most challenging? One where you had to dig deep to get into her mind-frame?
Jaclyn- Well, in the first season she was raped. I think that was the most challenging. And that happens to women all the time. That's a very scary topic and even acting it was scary; where it's like I can't even imagine having that happen to me in real life. Even just acting it was that frightening. So I think on a personal level it was scary because it was like wow this really happens to women. And then going through it is scary and she has an emotional breakdown from that.
That's a very tough topic to tackle. Did that stay with you afterwards?
Jaclyn- It was crazy because we did the scene and then she goes through a cycle where she attempts suicide, which is a very common thing from rape, so that kind of led into that in the first season. And then the last shot I shot that season was added to the rape scene. And so it was kind of like I had to go back into that. And I think I had already done my research where I was fine, but it's emotional. And you feel for these women and girls that go through this. It's so intense. And I think that's the hardest part of acting- knowing that it is real. These things really do happen. That's what's so crazy about our show. These are real life issues. And then in the second season, a lot of things come out about Amanda that I had to again do research about. Some of it was challenging, but it was really fun. There were some days where I'd be like, 'Okay, this is a little harder today. I have to get it together and really dig deep.' And then other days it was just kind of like there. Just because the shooting pace was quick. And when you're playing such an intense character like that it's an everyday process. So the first season the rape storyline stood out, and for the second season I can't really say yet but I think just her getting her revenge and living through the past tramautic experiences of her life. That comes up a lot in the second season. There were times I found kind of an intense and then when we would cut I would be like, 'Oh my gosh, it was so fun!'
Do you think that's why the show has connected so much with viewers? Because the issues that they tacke are so realistic?
Jaclyn- Yes. All of Tyler's shows or movies always have a message and I think that's why he is such a successful director, writer, and creator; people relate to a lot of his work. And in the show there is homosexuality and problems with that and then there was the rape and family issues- a lot of these things people deal with every day. And so you connect with the character and you want to watch it and see what happens even more. Second season, honestly, I didn't think it could get more intense but somehow Tyler he's got this mind that really thinks of amazing things. The second season is crazy! There are some scary moments, too. I'm excited to watch it. I can't wait!
I did read that your character, Amanda, is going to be dealing with Tika Sumpter's character, Candace, and her 'bad girl persona', what can you tell viewers about that? A little sneak peek?
Jaclyn- Yes, like I said she gets her revenge. She's learning from Candace. But she definitely starts to come into her own and she's kind of figuring out her own ways and figuring out how to get her revenge. You're going to definitely see a different side of Amanda than you did in the first season. She was very innocent and naïve. There's a little but more of a naughty side than nice in the second season.
I read that you have an extensive dancing background with ballet. How did your dance experience impact you as an actress, if at all?
Jaclyn- Well, I think with ballet it's really theatricial. You still have to act out scenes, you're just not speaking. I still was always acting and playing characters on stage. That's what I always fell in love with- the development of the character from the start to finish of the ballet and when the storyline linked. I always loved that. It's so emotional. You're feeling so much but you aren't able to speak so you feel it that much more because it's just your movement. There's no speaking. The only way you can express it is through facial expressions and through your body, so I think that definitely helped. It helped with stage presence and being aware of your surroundings. And it gave me so much dispicline. This business is very difficult. And I think a lot of people move to LA or to New York and think it's going to happen in a day. But you have to have a lot of preservance and I think when you have a background where you come from an art or a sport or anything where you work your butt off because it's where you want to be, I think it kind of gives you more of a backbone in the industry. That definitely helped me to keep trekking along when things were kind of rough and I wasn't booking a million things. But I also think taking direction; because ballet we would always get direction in class and when we were breaking down variations, we got direction from the artistic director in the ballet company, and it's kind of the same thing when you're in a scene. It's funny how similar a ballet company and a movie or a TV show are shot. It's very similar how the collaboration and the process is made. But one is live and one is not. get to dance a little bit in the second season of the show so that was really, really cool! I'm really excited about it.
If you could go back in time and spend a day in the life of anyone from history, who would it be and why?
Jaclyn- I would probably either want to be Cleopatra, because she was such a dominant, strong woman and I feel like for that time, she was a leader. And she conquered so much. But I wouldn't want to be around for when she died. Or probably Marilyn Monroe, because I feel like she was so misunderstood. She was an amazing actress and she was so beautiful, but I feel like there was a lot of pain behind that and just to understand that, kind of figure out her development as an artist. I feel like there was so much hidden about who she really was and I feel that it was all for show. It would be really, really cool to see who she really was. I think then, old Hollywood, there was a sense of mystery and I would love to go back and see that as well. She intrigues me a lot just because that time period was so different. Marilyn Monroe is still such a classic name. She was such a strong, powerful women, but also I feel insecure. She was a very intriguing person and just to kind of get a sense of reality of what she was really like would be so interesting.
Is there anything else you would like to share with your fans?
Jaclyn- I post all the time on Twitter, @JaclynBetham, and Instagram, JaclynBetham. And just I hope that they watch the show and enjoy my work and I'm just grateful for everyone who watches it! I'll be live-tweeting on every show and I'm happy to answer questions on Twitter!
The second season of "The Haves and Have Nots" premieres Tuesday, January 7 at 9pm on the OWN Network.
@Meriamb on Twitter