Terrence J talks 'Sparkle' film: ‘Whitney Houston helped me shape my definition of love’

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I know that you didn’t film any scenes with Whitney Houston, but can you talk about any interaction you had with her on the set? What was that like?

I had one day on set with Whitney and when I first saw her I really wanted to take a picture because I’m a big fan, but I said—you know I shouldn’t do it because I look like a groupie, and now I’ll never get that opportunity back. So what I’ve learned from that experience was just to never take any moments for granted. If you see somebody and you love them and you admire their work, you gotta give them their flowers while they’re still living because you just never know.

Did Whitney seem approachable on set?

Yeah she was cool, she was super cool and that’s the thing. The way the media portrays her is all wrong. She was super down to earth and cool. She was beautiful and she was tall. She was just dope.

If there’s one thing you would have like to have said to Whitney Houston, one thing you could have told her, what would it have been?

She helped shaped my definition of love—through her music, through her films. She helped shape the definition of what love means and that’s very powerful to me. Growing up, I have a step dad who is Puerto Rican, but he looks white and then my mom was black so I had an interracial relationship that I grew up under. So watching The Bodyguard and seeing her with Kevin Costner it at a young age, I think I was either 9 or 10 years old. It gave me my first glimpse to be able to look at something and say, oh that’s what my mom and my step dad, you know my dad [have]. That’s love. That’s my own life. Whenever anyone would say who is that with your mom I could say “Hey it’s just like The Bodyguard.”  I know it sounds crazy now, but it helped shape my definition of what love is. And I wish I could have told her how much she meant and her work meant to me.

A lot of folks in the industry are triple and double threats. Would you ever consider singing or rapping?

That is one threat I’ll never do. Singing and rapping, unfortunately I wasn’t given those talents.

So if a film role comes up and they want you to sing you probably wouldn’t take it?

I’d call up Trey Songz and see if he would be my stunt double and maybe they won’t know the difference.

What would you say is the most important thing that you’ve learned while hosting 106 & Park, this show seen by millions on BET?

I guess the biggest thing I’ve learned is patience. You know when we came on is what just [sic] at a very complex time. We didn’t know the direction of the show,  and we didn’t know whether we would be accepted. It was very difficult, so there were a lot of obstacles with that. With patience and belief in God, luckily by the grace of God we’ve now been on for seven years, at a time when people thought the show would just disappear or get beat by ratings. To be able to have that type of longevity on show like 106 & Park, it’s just remarkable. So patience is the biggest thing I’ve learned from this journey.

You’re navigating through the industry as an actor now; when you get to take on the role as leading man, who are some leading ladies on your list that you are just dying to work with?

Leading Ladies that I am dying to work with… I just saw Batman the other night and I thought Anne Hathaway. I mean from Devil Wears Prada to the role she just pulled on Batman, she killed it. I’ve always loved Angelina Jolie, Julia Roberts and I’ve seen Selita Ebanks in some good movies. Halle Berry, I love Halle and Jennifer Hudson and Charlize Theron.

Follow Chris Witherspoon on Twitter at @WitherspoonC