TLC was Meant To Be, and it seems that the women portraying the iconic female group in CrazySexyCool: The TLC Story are also driven by destiny. Drew Sidora, an actress whose resume includes That’s So Raven and Step Up, has been honing her chops in homemade TLC videos since she was a little girl. “I felt like this role was made for me. I just really connected to the lines, the script, to the music–obviously–the fashion,” says the the film’s version of Tionne “T-Boz” Watkins. “I was just really, really blessed and excited for the opportunity.”
We were lucky enough to be on set during filming in Atlanta, and had the chance to watch Drew, Keke Palmer, and Lil Mama fully embody their characters. Read our exclusive interview with Drew below, to find out how she plans to show the difference between T-Boz and Tionne in the upcoming film.
Are you a fan of the biopic genre?
Oh my gosh, definitely. Kate Lanier, who wrote CrazySexyCool, also wrote What’s Love Got to Do with It? And as a female actress looking up to Angela Bassett, she may not have looked physically just like Tina Turner, but she embodied that character. [With Ray,] I really forgot I was looking at Jamie Foxx and felt like he embodied that character. A lot of the criticism we’ve had to face [has been], “OK, this person doesn’t look like T-Boz… well, how are they going to do this?” We felt like instead of looking like them, to embody their spirit and their character [was more important than] dressing up in costume. I think there’s a difference, and that’s been the way that we’ve attacked this film, so hopefully our film will do as well as those. We’ll just pray for that.
Are there any things that you’ve learned about TLC since being on set that you may have had a misconception about as a fan?
When we first were going to rehearsal, Keke [Palmer], Lil Mama, and myself were like, “Oh, dance rehearsal is gonna be a breeze!” You know, ’cause they were just cool and swagged out. Huh! [Laughs.] We walked in the first day of dance rehearsal and I tell you I’ve never felt so much pain in my body or sweated so hard. It was one thing to learn their dance moves and their choreography, but then it was a whole other lesson to find out how they did it.
Has it been beneficial to work with T-Boz and Chilli throughout filming?
I think it helped us to gravitate to the character. Because for me, I understood what T-Boz went through as a child that made her have this harder exterior; when she performed onstage, you understood why she related to more of the boyish qualities. It wasn’t just for show, it really was a part of who she was. I think that’s what we see with each one of the individual characters: we understand why they made certain choices because of what they freaking went through. That’s what I didn’t know [beforehand]. I came in like, “Oh T-Boz, she was cool, they make cool music.” I had an understanding of what Tionne was dealing with with sickle cell-anemia, but I didn’t know that literally when they went on tour, their manager Bill [Diggins] had to setup medical centers where they landed. She had to go to the hospital, get blood transfusions, get treatments, ride in the ambulance to the venue, get on stage and perform, go back to the hospital, get a treatment, and get on the airplane, [in] every single city. And it was very profound for me to learn that about her. She’s a warrior.
What’s your relationship with Tionne like?
I absolutely love Tionne. First, we’re both Taurus women so we connect astrologically. [She’s] very ambitious–I can definitely relate to her in that way. We’re both from the Midwest, so I understand where she comes from. When we first spoke on the phone, we literally talked for four hours. We just had a level of understanding and I appreciated her opening up to me, because I know it has to mean something to find someone is playing you. She embraced me and opened up to me in a lot of ways to allow me to really connect to the character. I told her I just want to make her proud. That’s all I want to do.