Lunch with Tika Sumpter aka Raina Thorpe of Gossip Girl

Raina Thorpe and Serena van der Woodsen

Last week I had lunch with the woman strong enough to play Chuck Bass’ love interest and business nemesis, Tika Sumpter aka Raina Thorpe.  Dressed like she just walked off the set of Gossip Girl, Tika’s sultry voice and natural confidence made her perfect for the role. Over some tomato-mint soup and spaghetti bolognese I found out which first lady Raina Thrope gets her style inspiration from, the power of an Herve Leger dress, which favorite city we share a love for, and which talents she’d be putting to work if she wasn’t acting.

A quick video snip is below but scroll down for the full interview

JS: How do the clothes help you get into character?

TS: The clothes definitely help me get into character. I think Leighten’s character is very Chanel. I feel like [Raina’s] very conservative with a flair. I would say kinda Obam-ish – like Michelle maybe. A little more risqué but like a business woman. [The costume designers] take chances with [Raina’s] colors and the fits are absolutely perfect the way they fit the clothes on me and it’s conservative but with a burst of sexy. I love it and of course it makes me feel powerful and in control.

JS: So how would you describe your style? Is it different from Raina’s?

TS: It is, cause sometimes I’ll feel like a Raina outfit, like if I’m going to a cocktail party but then sometimes I feel like very Bohemian. It depends cause I’m a Gemini so it’s like so many faces. – Me too! June 20th. So it depends on how I feel. I love hats. It just depends on how I feel. One day I might feel sexy and risqué and might wear a tight little outfit, another day might wear something classic and wear some flat Miu Miu’s with high-waisted pants and a tucked in blouse. It depends on how I feel.

JS: So what’s the best thing you’ve worn on the show? Cause I remember a purple Herve –

TS: THAT’S IT! Everybody was like who is that!? Who’s outfit is that? Who’s that from? I’m like Herve Leger! You can’t go wrong – I mean that’s my favorite outfit. When I wore that outfit – first of all I had a robe on when I came out in it at first and I took it off and it was like silence. Like nobody wanted to be like ooo! It was just silent. It’s one of those dresses where you walk into a room and it’s like deadly. It’s definitely like who is that and the girls are like what are you wearing cause I want to go buy it right now. It’s my favorite outfit. It fit perfectly and it made me feel sexy. – JS: And the color – TS: The color! First of all I love color and they got it they put me in such great colors on the show. So they– they got Raina – they got me, they know what looks good on my skin you know what I mean? That was my favorite.

JS: You play a powerful and very shrewd businesswoman on the show, so what unique qualities do you think women possess that make them natural business leaders?

TS: Unique qualities. I think business leaders in general, they listen.  They are logical. I think they kind of put emotions out of the way when it comes to business. You know like in the beginning when Raina said to Chuck look I can separate business and pleasure and still have a relationship with you. And I think they kind of have a clear sense of what they want in life. And they have a goal in mind when they wake up in the morning and will never give up. “No” is never no for them. “No” is not even in the dictionary.

JS: So what are you favorite places to travel?

TS: I just got came back from Sweden with girlfriends and that was one of my favorite trips, Stockholm was amazing. We didn’t stay long but from what we saw it was pretty fantastic. And Costa Rica is another one of my favorites.  They people are just chill. They call it pura vida lifestyle like pure life like just take it easy. Do your job but just take it easy. Life is too short to be out of your mind and go crazy over things, and the weather is fantastic so whenever I need to get away I go there. I love Europe in general. Paris is my favorite favorite city, other than New York because I’m from Queens but Paris is my favorite.  It’s just really magical. And I tell everyone who’s able to get there – go! Run! Yeah.

JS: So I read that you have a bit of an adventurous side. That you like to go racing and surfing.  When did you trek through the Himalayas?

TS: Two years ago. That was probably one of the best experience of my life. The people were so simple but so smart. Like the way they have their water filtration system. Because it’s so high up in the mountains they have to build everything, they carry everything. I’m taking about a piece of wood from, huge pieces of wood, long on their backs to build things and houses, and I just give it to the people who live there. They love it and they’re happy people and when we’re up there they look at us like we’re crazy with our clothes. Just like we probably look at them like oh that’s different. They are peaceful people and happy happy people and they don’t have much and that’s the cool thing about it – they don’t have much but what they do have they cherish and they also grow their own things, so I think they have more appreciation for what they have because they built it and grew it – you know what I mean? You know where everything’s coming from. It was a hard trek but it was amazing.

JS: Was there a specific reason why you went?

TS: I got invited on a trip and I was like yeah, I’m down. We went for two weeks to Kathmandu and trekked the Himalayas, and I can’t remember all the names of the famous mountains that we tried to trek to, but just the views and the mountains we saw. It was like heaven. Like if this is what heaven is like I want to be there. It was pretty fantastic.

JS: So you not only act but you also sing. How would you describe your singing style?

TS: I have kind of a belty voice kind of an alto-ish sometimes sultry kind of voice. My style is pop, but I wanted to have pop with a purpose though. I want to empower women I want little girls to feel good about themselves. I mean even from just from being on Gossip Girl and given the opportunity that I had, being a young black woman on the show, girls from all over have been like you are an inspiration, just the way you’re portrayed on the show in such  a positive light, and she’s successful and she can run with the best of them and she’s beautiful and her clothes are on point and I just want to give them a positive image of themselves you know and uplift. Because I feel like if another woman is better, the world ultimately can be better. If you’re doing well that’s part of the cohesive plan for everything to be better in life.

It was inspiring and encouraging to them. Cause visual images are very powerful especially now a days. And so I felt especially encouraged by these women wanting to know what I’m doing and what’s next.  I’m going to do the singing thing and do it hard core and get it out there and see what happens.

JS: So can you picture Raina singing to Nate on the show?

TS: Not Raina. Raina doesn’t do that. She’s not trying to be famous. She’s not trying to be on American Idol. She just is a business girl who’s about her money her family and he father’s legacy or whatever. You wouldn’t catch her even if it she had a gun to hear head. She’s be like what? I can make you some money!

JS: So speaking of Nate. Who’s a better kisser Nate? Or Chuck? I had to ask. LOL.

TS: I know you did. They’re both different in their styles.  I can’t go into further detail because they might punch me when they see me the next time. They are both great kissers. I think anybody would like to be in my shoes. I’m a very lucky girl. They’re both great kissers.

JS: So it’s not like Chuck is more aggressive? More like dominant?

TS: He has his dominant ways about him. But over all they’re both really great kissers.  Just take my word for it ladies!

JS: I saw you in the trailer for What’s Your Number. You’ve got a key plot line! Looks really funny. How was it filming?

TS: I was just watching it today! Tripp Vinson just emailed me asking if I saw the trailer. I think it’s going to be hilarious. I wish there were more films like this because girls talk about sex too. I mean when you’re with friends they talk about everything.  So I think the ladies are going to have fun with that and the guys are going to see a glimpse of what we talk about, we don’t just talk about weddings, not all of us want to get married, and we talk about sex. We talk as much as you guys talk about those things. Don’t get it twisted.

JS: Can you share your number?

TS: Hahahahahahahahahahahaahahaha! You can just put my laughter…

(watch the trailer below to get the joke : )

JS: Blair’s famous for her love of peonies. Does Raina have a favorite flower?

TS: Hydrangeas are her favorite.

JS: How do you see her character evolving?

TS: We’ll have to see in the finale but you’ll see.  JS: She calls Jack?

TS: That was how it left of cause she’s angry. When Raina gets angry she gets angry. She gets even. So I think you guys will see that it’s interesting you’ll see how it ends. We’ll see what happens in the next season.

JS: So you’re on it next season!

TS: We’ll see ! I have no idea. If I knew I’d be like girl I’m on the next season!  You’ll have to see the finale and they you’ll see from that point. I think you will be in for a real treat.

JS: What are some of your favorite TV shows?

TS: Grey’s Anatomy, Oprah, The View I watch everyday, actually my girlfriend Eliza Coupe is on a new show called Happy Endings on ABC, it’s a cute show, and of course Modern Family. That’s about it. I stopped watching the reality shows. I started getting headaches from Housewives. Like don’t we have enough problems to worry about? And I know we want to escape but that’s a lot – it’s draining.

JS: What’s Leighton like?

TS: Leighton is so funny. Like she’s the kind of girl I could hang out with. She’s just a cool girl. Funny. I liked her a lot. And we didn’t work together so much but when we did I though she was so funny and so sweet and just a chill girl – like a sweet and cool chick.

JS: And you were recently in Esquire. You’re photos were really cute – classier than the rest!

TS: Yeah, I wanted to make sure they weren’t too sexy cause I knew my mom was going to see them, and my aunt, and I don’t want anything crazy. And it was just me, simple and cute and sexy.

JS: Was that in your new place in NJ? The wallpaper is super cute.

TS: Thanks, Silver and grey. I decorated it and the photographer was like you did this! I hired someone to put it up but I chose everything. I love HGTV. I told my guy friend if you ever need help I’ll do I it for free. Cause you know guys have like one chair and a bed. Decorating is relaxing for me.