Former Troy resident making television debut

Published 3:00 am Saturday, February 7, 2015

TaLesa J. Harris, formerly of Troy, will make her national television debut in the movie, “White Water” at 7 p.m. today on TV-ONE.

Harris will appear with noted actors Sharon Leal of Tyler Perry’s “Why Did I Get Married,” Larenz Tate of “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and Barry Shabaka Henley from “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”

Harris said her role as the deaconess is not a large role, but it is a speaking role and an opportunity to be on national television.

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“I was actually a stand-in for Sharon Leal, and part of what I did was stand in for her so they could get the lighting right,” Harris said. “Rusty Cundieff, the director, said I looked good on camera and asked if I’d ever acted.” Harris’ resume includes minor roles in Tyler’ Perry’s’ sit-coms, “For Better or Worse” and “House of Payne,” and an appearance on “Wheel of Fortune.” .

Cundieff was evidently satisfied that Harris was ready for her shot at the big screen. “He asked me to audition for the role of the deaconess,” Harris said. “I did and I got it. I was shocked but extremely happy and overjoyed at the same time. I couldn’t believe it.” Harris said the movie, “White Water,” was inspired by the book, “White Water,” by Michael Bandy and Eric Stein.

“The story took place in the 1960s, and it’s about an African American boy that wanted to taste water from the ‘white’ drinking fountain,” Harris said. “Michael Bandy is from Opelika and that’s where about 90 percent of the movie was filmed.”

Harris was born in 1989 and has no first-hand knowledge of the times when public water fountains were designated “colored” and “white.” “My grandmother lived during those times, and I can remember her talking about the way life was back then,” Harris said. “She said times were hard and painful, and she had to endure racism. But she survived those difficult times, and they made stronger.”