While her at times aggressive demeanor may lead some to believe the 27-year-old Midwest native is nothing more than an unfeeling bitch, when the Cal State grad spoke with Beauty & Brains she revealed herself to be an incredibly intelligent, surprisingly composed and thoughtful single-mom who is clearly just trying to survive the uncaring male-dominated music biz. †
Beauty & Brains: According to E!, youíre the ďfeistyĒ one [Laughs]. Is that labeling something you take offense to, or something you take pride in?
Terricka Cason: I definitely take pride [in that]. Iím feisty, but Iím feisty because I just have a really driven attitude, and I know what I want, and I know what I donít want. So thereís certain things that Iíll do, and thereís certain things that I just wonít settle for. Iíve been in this industry for [over five years], so I know how dirty it is and how grimy it is, and how you can get used. And, you canít do that to me. So, if I have to be feisty and have that attitude and stand up for myself, then so be it. †
B&B: I saw the clip where you almost got in a fight with [Bella owner] Danielle. Is it taking feistiness too far though to call your boss an ďignorant bitchĒ and threaten to whoop her ass [Laughs]?
Terricka Cason: The comment that she made I felt was extremely ignorant. For somebody to say less is more when dealing with somebodyís child, something that someone takes pride and joy inÖ I think that was uncalled for her to say, ďDonít talk about your daughter.Ē When I think about my life, and when I think about the success that Iíve [had], my daughter is included with that. I wouldnít dare not speak about her. So, I felt that she was being disrespectful to me. And I think other people should look at that and read more into it and realize well hey, she does have a valid point. Like, why wouldnít she talk about her daughter? Why would that set me aside from succeeding in my career? Iím very proud of my daughter. Iím not gonna downplay that I have one.
B&B: And you kind of alluded to this a little bit earlier, do you feel like you have to be aggressive in this business to be taken seriously, and be respected?
Terricka Cason: You definitely have to be very aggressive. Like I said, this industry is dirty. If youíre not strong enough [to deal with that], then itís not cut out for you. People come to L.A. every day that try to live their dreams, but some people are just not cut out for it and they end up flying back home. But you know Iím from East St. Louis. Iím from a strong, grounded city, where Iím not supposed to be here. I grew up where I didnít have sidewalks on my streets, and Iím living the life that most kids in my neighborhood would only imagine living.† †
B&B: In all fairness to you, that director on the Mims video shoot [for ďMove (If You Wanna)Ē] deserved a grilling about that dumb-ass direction: act like you ďwanna sleep with him.Ē Do most of the directors you work with give degrading direction like that?
Terricka Cason: No. His choice of words and all that was [something I] would never use as far as directing. I donít think he woulda went to a commercial site and told an actress on there to act like she would be having sex with the other actor on the set. You can act sexy, seductive, be sexual, show your beauty, but to say ďact like youíre having sex with the artistĒ or ďstop looking sluttyĒ [like he did], I think that was very disrespectful, and I think that he looked at us in the wrong light. I donít need to do this job to be disrespected. Treat me like you would treat another actress if you were [at] a commercial shoot.
B&B: Now, you gotta know most male viewers of videos donít care how ďvideo vixensĒ get treated. Do guys out in the world treat you in a degrading way when they recognize you from a video or find out you do rap videos?
Terricka Cason: Iíve never been degraded. I mean, you get degraded by ignorant people, just because theyíre ignorant. But, a lot of people do acknowledge that we are models. And they do acknowledge that we are working [in] a tough industry. So a lot of times we get the utmost respect. Most of the time people just wanna say hi, or take a picture with us. I donít get [those] degrading looks. But Iím different, Iím more humble. People can come across me and approach me. Iím more approachable, because I consider myself just real. So you get what you get when you deal with TC. I donít sugarcoat anything. And I get love in this city, soÖ †
B&B: You mentioned your daughter, [and so] I just wanted to ask [this question]: In 15 years your now four-year-old daughter comes to you and says she wants to follow in your footsteps and appear in music videos, what do you say to her?
Terricka Cason: If thatís something that she wants to do, as long as she understands the industry. And I think [with] the way I handle myself, I donít necessarily feel as if Iím not being a positive role model for my daughter. I feel that Iím very positive. I feel that she can be able to learn from me and be strong, and know that everythingís not gonna be handed to her on a silver spoon and she has to work for it. And if [video modeling] is something that she wants to work for, as long as she handles herself in a dignified way, then I support her. I wouldnít definitely want this to be long-term for her, just like I donít want it to be long-term for me, but if this is a step that she wants to use to further her career then Iíll support her.†† †
B&B: You said you donít want this to be long-term, [and] I know you started off in this biz auditioning people for videos and commercials, and working as a production assistant [before debuting on screen in the video for Jay-Zís ďDirt Off Your ShoulderĒ], [so] is that what you plan to eventually go back to?
Terricka Cason: Not so much working as a production assistant, or [in] casting. I was doing that just more so to learn about the industry, to learn how hard it is, to learn how to audition and what castings were like. I personally want to eventually audition for movies, and be on sitcoms, do commercials, [maybe] hair modeling. I am very into my physical health, so I wouldnít mind doing athletic modelingÖor extending my career further in the industry as far as higher roles and higher paying roles.
B&B: Is it realistic for a young lady to expect appearing in rap videos to launch a legitimate acting career? Have there been any real success stories of video models transitioning to a real career in film or television?
Terricka Cason: Yes! Thereís been Carmen Electra. Thereís been Lauren London. I can even sayÖJessica Alba. Thereís been a lot of people. Even Megan Fox appeared in her first video. A lot of people have gotten further in their career and used videos as a stepping stone, just to get their face out. And a lot of those video directors now are doing feature films. You got Chris Robinson. He did ATL. And Benny Boom now [is directing films]. Theyíre all going and doing films now, so why wouldnít it be possible for me to work with a video director that I started in a video with to do a film that heís doing?
B&B: Do you have any film projects on the horizon?
Terricka Cason: Iíve done a couple of film projects. Iíve done a straight to DVD movie [Godís Gift] with Master P, where I played Romeoís mother as a child. It was a documentary that he did. I also was featured in a film called All Youíve Got. It was an MTV special with Adrienne Bailon and Ciara, where I played a volleyball girl on the set. And I also was featured on the Eve show, where I had a role as one of the waitresses. But I also have a theater degree. So Iíve studied filmÖ I know what it takes, and I believe I have what it takes to succeed in the film industry.
B&B: And is this something you just kinda wanna transition into gradually, or you plan to stop doing videos at some point and just focus completely on [film]?
Terricka Cason: I plan to do it gradually, but videos are always hot, and videos [are] what keeps your name out there. Music is what leads to other things, so as long as an artist wants to feature me in a music video, then why not? Lisa Rayeís still doing videosÖ Tyra Banks, different actresses who are very well established now who are still showcasing their face on videos. So I wouldnít say I wouldnít do another video, no.
B&B: With the current downturn in the music biz, and the economy as a whole, are you finding fewer opportunities to do what you do? With dwindling budgets is there less of a demand for video models?
Terricka Cason: I wouldnít say [there] was a less of a demand - artists are still shooting videos Ė [but] the budget might not be as high as it used to be. But alongside the videos comes the hosting of events. We host parties with the artists. Theyíre still concerts and tours that we make appearances at. So if thereís not a video [to shoot], we still work jobs through the music industry for other venues.
B&B: I donít want you to put your financial business in the street, but can someone still really make a living doing what you do?
Terricka Cason: Iím living proof that you can. You definitely can. We make good money to be able to stay financially secure.
B&B: And did I read correctly [that] youíre in a union?
Terricka Cason: I am in the union. Iím in [the] SAG (Screen Actorís Guild) union.
B&B: And [now] you either donít have to, or you wonít work as an extra anymore?
Terricka Cason: I started off as an extra. I think I paid my duesÖ I worked on sets for free. Iíve done things to get started in the game. But after I been a lead model for so many years, I just think it doesnít make sense for me to go backwards. I never wanna go backwards in my career. I always wanna continue to go forward. So by me being an extra on a video, thatís something I canít do. Now, if you want me to be an extra on a feature film with Denzel Washington, and thatís something where I can get experience and I can grow, then yeah, Iím not gonna say that I wonít start from the bottom at that point in my career.
B&B: But that has to be Denzel? Is that a requirement [Laughs]?
Terricka Cason: [Laughs] It doesnít have to be Denzel, but if itís a major film where I can learn and network - Iím all about networking, so if I can be on set and get noticed and network and learn some things, then I wouldnít mind being an extra in that atmosphere, no.
B&B: I read that like almost everybody on your motherís side of the family has a doctorate degree, so is your fam pressuring you to quit doing this and go to graduate school?
Terricka Cason: My family has been beyond supportive of me. They are just astonished at the fact that I was so driven that I left my [home] and came out here Ė by myself really. My momís here now. But Iíve grown up around family. Iíve always had my grandmother and my aunts thatíve surrounded me, so Iíve always had support everywhere I turn. Theyíre just really happy that I came out here and I was able out of all the people who worked hard and pursued this same dream to do it. And they just support me. I have my aunts that still say, ďWell you can still go to school at night and get your graduate degree.Ē And thatís something I plan on doing possibly in the future. But as of right now, while Iím living my dream, Iím gonna continue pursuing it. School is always there.
B&B: Did I read correctly that your original plan was to go to law school though?
Terricka Cason: My original plan was to go to law school. Iíve always been aggressive, and Iíve always been really driven. And I always felt that was what an ideal lawyer would be, somebody who knew how to speak, somebody who knew how to get themselves out of any situation. And I believe thatís me. I know my rights, and I do my research. I know my union rules. Thatís why a lot of people canít take advantage of me because I know what the union rules are. So I always felt I had what it takes to be a good lawyer.
B&B: From the clips Iíve seen of the show, youíre a good arguer [Laughs].
Terricka Cason: [Laughs] But I always argue with a valid point [Laughs].
B&B: What do you think is harder, crafting an oral argument for court or keeping a rapperís hands off of you on a video shoot?
Terricka Cason: I havenít had the experience of a rapper [doing that]. I think thatís something that most people think [happens]. Itís more the entourage that you have the problem with. But a lot of people really donít realize [that] while weíre on set the artists [has] his holding area, and then thereís talent holding area. Weíre not even around them. So that whole rep that oh, these girls are on set messing with the artists, weíre not even nowhere involved with what theyíre doing or who theyíre trying to talk to. That misunderstanding is given by the girls that come on set just to meet the [artists]. Itís not the talent; itís not the video models [doing that]. We could care less. Weíre there to make our money, and half of the time weíre just ready to go Ė sign in and sign out.
B&B: What was the best video experience you think, if you had to single one out?
Terricka Cason: I think the best video experience Iíve had was with the recent Lil Wayne ďGot MoneyĒ [video]. They donít showcase a lot of what we did, but it was fun. It was like 12 women and we got to act like bank robbers and got to run through the bank, and the police was stopping us and arresting us. It was pretty fun. That was one of the best experiences. But other than that, I would say Chris Brown, but I donít know if thatís a good topic to discuss. But I did his very first video, and with Chris being a minor it was just a very fun set. We were just able to be kids and play around all day, and run and have fun. So that was a great experience too.
B&B: Now my final question is just why should the HipHopDX readers watch Candy Girls? The only reality show I have any interest in watching right now is MTVís Taking The Stage, and thatís only because one of my nieces goes to that Performing Arts school. So why do I wanna watch four video models fighting with each other and going on dates with Red Cafť [Laughs]?
Terricka Cason: [Laughs] Because weíre having a good damn time. No, I would say each [one] of us, weíre not just video girls. We each add something different. We each come from a different background. And we each are trying to pursue one common goal, and thatís to make a name for ourselves. And we as a whole [on the show] just wanna touch base on what we really do. We get the name-calling, and the bloggers [criticisms], but nobody really knows what we do and how hard it is to do what we do. Itís just an inside look at being a model in L.A. Ė the auditions, the parties we host, the events we go to. And not only that, itís very entertaining. It introduces you to the artists. Thereís a lot of artists featured on the show. And everybody wants to know what really happens on a video set.
Tune in to the show on Sunday nights at 10:30pm on E! ††††