“I’ve Grown”: Teairra Mari talks acting forays, new music, Love & Hip Hop

We were first introduced to Teairra Marí in 2005 courtesy of Jay-Z and Roc-a-Fella Records/Def Jam. The then 16-year-old Detroit vocalist crooned about having “No Daddy”, and posed the immortal question, “Are there any boys around that know how to make a girl feel?” Eight years later, Mari has developed into a woman both mentally and musically leaving childish pursuits behind.

Of her progress, Mari says, “I have grown from a teenage girl to a young woman in all capacities.  When I first got into the business, I wasn’t aware of the actual ‘behind the scenes’ business practices and what it entails.  So I’ve grown in that aspect because I chose to educate myself and not fall prey to the ugliness that sometimes occurs.”

The ugliness that Mari alludes to may refer to her leaving Roc-A-Fella Records/Def Jam.  At the time, she had just released her self-titled debut album in August 2005 with two successful singles under her belt; the female anthem “Make Her Feel Good,” and the aforementioned “No Daddy.” 

Some suggest Mari was dropped from the label due to similarities to then label mate, a certain Robyn ‘Rihanna‘ Fenty.  Of that, Mari argues it’s a misconception. “Rihanna never ‘took’ anything from me,” says Mari. 

“Certain business decisions were made that were beyond my control during the time I was signed to Def Jam and I had to ‘roll with the punches’. I will say that as a result, it has made me into a stronger, wiser and more business savvy artist. Rihanna is a dope entertainer and deserves all the success that she has achieved.  I’m happy for her.”

Content with not letting her label situation make her complacent and stop creating music, Mari found a new home on producer/singer Rico Love’s new label, Division 1.  The singer released her new single, “U Did That,” via iTunes featuring every hipster’s favorite rapper 2 Chainz

“The album is going to have a ’90s New Jack Swing feel, along with some great up-tempo stuff,” says Mari.  “Rico and I have a great chemistry so, when we get in the studio it’s like magic happens and it’s not forced.”

Also, in hopes to not be complacent and stay relevant in a sea of ever changing music, Mari joined the cast of VH1’s Love and Hip Hop for the second season.  Despite not being involved in any of the drama that unfolded within the show, it was an interesting move from Mari.  Unlike the other girls on the show, Mari wasn’t tied to any of the rappers (Fabolous or Jim Jones). She had an easier connect in the form of show producer Mona Scott.

Mari had spoken to Scott explaining how her friend Emily was already on the show and was later asked to be a guest herself. “At first, it started off as just a guest appearance but, I kept on getting called back to shoot various scenes.  At first, I was nervous to see how they edited each scene and put me in the show.  I was on the ground praying when I made my debut but, after I saw it, I was very pleased,” explains Mari. 

“I wanted to make sure that I gave them that ‘Detroit’ flavor, which is who I am: fun, loving, honest and tells it like it is in a tactful way.”   

Mari believes that being a part of the show ultimately helped affect her career in a positive way, as her fans were able to see her in a different light.  They could really see her for who she is: a friend and a confident woman.

Aside from music, Mari is working on a new movie with Snoop Dogg and Wiz Khalifa, Mac & Devin Go To High School.  The movie, which currently has no release date, is the story of a super senior and his schoolyard shenanigans. Mari plays a substitute teacher who has caught Snoop’s red eye.  

With her transition to the small and big screen and new material, it is clear Mari is determined to make a name for herself and be more than just the girl who would be Rihanna. 

Teairra Mari online: teairrafans.com / Facebook / @TeairraMari

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