Although she has been acting since childhood, Jaclyn Betham, landed the biggest role of her career playing Amanda Cryer in Tyler Perry’s hit series, The Haves and the Have Nots. It debuted on OWN as the highest rated drama to date.
The series follows three families lives as they intersect with one another. The show deals with a slew of issues including social class, economics, social status, and hardship. In an exclusive interview, Betham explained how it felt when she landed the role and what viewers should expect for the rest of the season.
Q: How did you land The Haves and The Have Nots?
Betham: I had been in LA for a little bit. I had done a ton of commercials and I was trying to become an actress. I had an audition and a few days later they called me from Atlanta and told me they wanted to bring me out for a call back with the producers and Tyler Perry. I fly out there and two days later I found out I booked it. [laughs]. Yeah, it was really quick and it was awesome.
Q: Was there anything specific in the script that you drew you into playing Amanda?
Betham:I am a very outgoing and happy girl and I feel like Amanda was very introverted and sad and has a whole lot of depth to her. She is like kind of happy on the surface, it’s put on, but she wants to be happy. I think so much has happened to her in her past and her present that she just doesn’t know how to handle it. So, she is just such a challenging character to play so I was really excited. It was kind of my first job in that I was working every day…but to take a character and have to develop her throughout the course of 16 episodes was really fun to do.
Q: Were you excited to land the role?
Betham: Yeah, it has been kind of a weird process. June and July are really slow months in the industry. So, when I booked it I was like Oh my god. I was so overly joyed. I don’t think it hit me until I was on set. It was my dream and I couldn’t believe it was happening. It was crazy. But then you get on with Ty and you get used to working every day and then you come home and its slow. Now it’s finally picking back up and we are going back for the second season. I know so many people that were looking for work and that is how I was. It’s crazy and a lot of work and I don’t think people realize how much work it really is. But I was like jumping up and down in my apartment when I got it.
Q: Not only do you land the show, but you are working with Tyler Perry and it’s airing on OWN the Oprah Winfrey Network. What!?
Betham: Right! It was super surreal. I remember the first time I met him. He was at the callbacks, but we didn’t have a lot of time to talk…after I booked the show he had us all over his house for dinner before we started working. He is so nice. I go and I didn’t know what to bring. I go and I hand him like a bottle of wine and he was so nice and so lovely and made me feel so much better…when we were on set Oprah came and watched us film for a day. It was a lot. I started crying when she walked in the door because I used to watch her show after school. Her presences along was so beautiful.
Q: You play Amanda Cryer, who is friends with her father’s mistress and deals with internal struggles and cuts herself. What is going on with Amanda?
Betham: She had a lot of problems when she was younger. They were religious and she went away to camp and something happened that was very tragic at camp that only my brother on the show knows about. We don’t know yet what happened so I think from that point on in her life she struggled with crazy insecurities and doubts. She kind of became sick…and it just gets worse. She wants to be happy, but she destroys herself doing it.
Q: This show is crazy.
Q: One character has cancer, one character is cheating, one has a prostitute on the side, one has been in rehab, its just nuts. Why do you think people relate to it?
Betham: [Laughs]. Well, I think everyone loves a little dysfunction and I think that with the dysfunction there is always a message and always a sense of love. A lot of the characters have beautiful relationships. There are so many people on the show that has love and compassion. You like the drama, but then there are these beautiful scenes that people just fall in love with…there is just always a message.
Q: How does the rest of the season play out?
Betham: Oh my god. Get ready for the last five episodes because it’s such a whirlwind. It’s like nonstop. I remember when we got the scripts we were sitting in the hallway reading them. None of us could put it down. Everyone was glued to the page. Just wait till everyone sees it. Be ready for sure. I think every character goes through it, especially for Amanda. Amanda gets a little bit of a backbone and pulls it together.
You can catch Jaclyn Betham on The Have and The Have Nots on OWN, Tuesdays at 9 pm EST and tweet Jaclyn anytime at: @JaclynBetham
**Photo Courtesy of Brett Erickson