Bishop T.D. Jakes, Movie Mogul
This month, the Potter's House pastor releases his third film, Jumping the Broom, starring Angela Bassett and Paula Patton.
Q: Your movie is a comedy about two black families from opposite ends of the socioeconomic spectrum coming together for a wedding weekend in Martha’s Vineyard. So it’s the black Father of the Bride, maybe with some Meet the Fockers mixed in. How close am I?
A: That’s not a bad description. [laughs] It tackles some significant issues in a humorous way that might be a little more aggressive than the illustrations you suggested.
Q: What do you mean by aggressive?
A: It points to a growing divide in the African-American community that many people are oblivious to and the philosophical differences between the different classes, the emerging upwardly mobile African-Americans as opposed to the mainstream blue-collar African-Americans. It is a comedy, but as is the case with all good comedies, it takes a look at real issues, too.
Q: What do you do as a producer? Anytime Angela Bassett was on set, you made sure you were there, or what?
A: I was involved with everything from script development to helping choose the cast. I have a first-look deal with Sony Pictures. It was through my contract that the
movie was able to be filmed, so I was involved with every aspect of the business part of the movie.
Q: A movie came out in 2008 called Noah’s Arc: Jumping the Broom. It was also about a black wedding in Martha’s Vineyard, except that one was between two gay guys. How did that happen?
A: One thing has absolutely nothing to do with the other. All African-Americans have a shared history when it comes to jumping the broom. Our ancestors were not allowed to marry, and the only way they could do it was by jumping over a broom. All African-
Americans are aware of that, regardless of their sexual orientation.
Q: When we talked a few years ago, you said your house on White Rock Lake was where you went to regain your peace of mind. Then you up and moved to Fort Worth. Why?
A: I still love Dallas. For me, as I became more popular and well-known, living on White Rock Lake lost some of that tranquility. I found a lot of people in my front yard taking pictures or ringing my doorbell at 3 o’clock in the morning, intoxicated, wanting counseling. It became counterproductive. And I travel all the time, leaving my wife at home, so it became a safety hazard as well. I wanted to move a little bit out of harm’s way.
Q: There was a big national survey done recently of megachurches, and your Potter’s House, with 30,000 members, didn’t even show up on it. The largest local church on the list was Prestonwood Baptist, with something like 28,000. How did you get left off the list?
A: I really don’t know how that happened. I don’t know whether they overlooked us or whether we were busy and didn’t respond to the survey.
Q: You can’t let those Baptists get the upper hand.
A: If you’re talking locally, that’s one thing. But if you’re talking all of Texas, I think Joel Osteen wins. He passed me by. I’m in his rearview mirror now. [laughs]
Q: Michael Irvin gave you credit for getting his life on track. I’m not judging. That’s fine. But then you got Kwame Kilpatrick saying you set him straight. At that point, I shake my head. It seems like no matter how big the transgression, you’re the guy for celebrities to go to.
A: I don’t think that’s the perception. The church is open for all people who are hurting regardless of whether they’re celebrities or not. We can’t guarantee anybody’s life, including our own. We’re all works in progress. We don’t close our doors because people are not popular or are popular. It’s a church. It’s like a hospital. It’s for everybody.