What's It Like to Work With Tyler Perry? Zulay Henao And Wendi McLendon-Covey On 'The Single Moms Club'

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You've seen her on ABC's The Goldbergs and Steve Harvey's Think Like a Man, and if you she made you laugh on screen, you can imagine what it was like interviewing, Wendi McClendon-Covey.

After spending 3 years in the United States Army and studying at the New York Conservatory for Dramatic Arts, the beautiful Zulay Henao landed her first role in Feel the Noise. Talking to Zulay was like talking to an old friend. She spoke freely about her experience during the filming of The Single Moms Club and you can clearly see the friendship between her and Wendi.

Zulay Henoa, William Levy of The Single Moms Club
Zulay Henoa and William Levy, Image © D. Long/Globe Photos/ZUMAPRESS.com

Tyler Perry's The Single Moms Club is a feel-good comedy that follows five struggling single moms who join together, because of their children's behavior, to organize an upcoming fundraiser and school dance at their children's exclusive prep school.  They find inspiration among one another in their new sisterhood, and they help each other through the obstacles and trials of being a single mom.

I had the opportunity to sit down with Zulay Henao and Wendi McLendon-Covey from the cast who shared what it was like filming the movie, working with Tyler Perry and how their roles were therapeutic.

On How They Identified With Their Roles When They Aren't A Single Mom:

Zulay:  In talking about this (question), I realized what I really loved about my part, my role in the movie, is that I enjoyed being a mother.  I always wanted...I always knew that I would be a mother some day and this really kinda solidified that maternal instinct to me. It was really nice, engaging with my daughter (on set) and giving her advice. The girl who played my daughter was clinging to me and we had such a good, beautiful bond.

I was raised by a single mother. My father was around but my parents were divorced when I was 14, so I was able to kind of go back to that time in my life and really absorb what that was like, for me as a child but then also really understanding all of my mothers sacrifices. It was really therapeutic, to be honest with you, being on set and it happened not exactly during filming but like, right after and then I watched "Daddyless Daughters" on Oprah and all these things just came together for me.

On what it like working with Tyler Perry?

Wendi:  Working with Tyler was fun because he was very collaborative.  He encourages you to improvise, so he writes everything, obviously, but he's not so in love with his own words that he won't listen to other ideas.

I personally like doing ensemble comedies, so it was fun to get to bond with these women and watch them be hilarious.  Sometimes I would just turn into an audience member during the scenes and I would just be like "where is this going?" It was really fun.

On Motherhood:

Wendi:  I don't have the strength to be a mother and I never felt like I needed to do it even as a kid, so for me, I look at people who have husbands and nannies and I don't see how they do it. I know a lot of single moms and I don't understand how any mother does it, EVER in life.  It's like saying, "I don't need to have any time off for 18 years or more. I give big props to all mothers!

On Children Seeing The Single Moms Club

Wendi:  I do think this movie is good for children to see, especially teenage children.  I would say, ""Hey, your mom probably sacrifices a lot, have you ever thought about that? You think your mom maybe cries in her bedroom at night thinking 'I can't do anymore than I'm doing and I feel like I'm failing at everything but I'm trying so hard."

On Her Role in The Goldbergs and The Single Moms Club

I totally "get" both moms. On "The Goldberg's", she's a total helicopter mom: in your business, standing over her kid watching him sleep. My character in The Single Moms Club is, you know, her kid is 12...she can feed herself, dress herself, what does she need me for? Here's a wad of cash, go amuse yourself. She's someone who's like, "I'm important! I really want to excel at my career but it turns out that she's failing at that, she's failing at mothering...just failing at life! There' s NO love life to speak of.

I understand that need to have your own thing and I hear that from some of my mom friends who are like, "When is it going to be my turn? I always wanted to have this career and now I'm here but I can't work as many hours as men because they have someone at home doing everything."

Single Moms Club
The Single Moms Club via Lionsgate Movies

What was your most memorable scene from The Single Moms Club

Zulay:  I have a favorite scene in the movie because I had such a breakthrough in my personal life that Tyler kinda help me get through. Tyler's so intuitive.  He's like a witch, that guy! I told him this to his face, so you can blog about it. {I asked} "How did you know that about me?" He's like, "I just know."

The scene with Eddie,  where I finally confront him to kinda get my independence back and the take that they ended up using in the movie is not the take that I thought they were going to use. It got to a really emotional, high-strung place for me and I loved that because I was so vulnerable and I'll be honest, Wendi (turns to Wendi). I think you and I talked about this...

During the beginning of production when I first got there, there was a moment that I was vulnerable but all for the wrong reasons. I was surrounded by all these super talented women, that have been doing this for so long, that are so accomplished, so I went in with some of that and my own personal stuff coming up, like with my relationship.  Tyler was just so intuitive in that scene.  I'm so upset that that's not the take we took because it was so eye-opening for me as far as my past relationships and how sometimes in life...in relationships, I let somebody else take my power away or take my happiness and it was really like a breakthrough.

I was like "Wow, I can let go of that and understand that I was just in a vulnerable place and I took it back and I'm okay now.  I was ending something then at that point during the filming.  Tyler was so happy for me.  I was crying and he said, "How do you feel?" Do you feel like you let go of something? {Because you know how Tyler talks} I responded" Yes, Thank you! That was a special scene for me. It was therapeutic for me.

Wendi: He (Tyler) will push you down the rabbit hole...gently, but he did that with Cocoa, too.

Zuley: or kick you down there...

Wendi: My most difficult scene was the last day of filming and I had to film the scene with my kid, Casey Brinon, who they could not have found a better girl to play my daughter.  That girl was whip smart.  She could improvise like nobodies business and she would give it back to me, just like I gave it to her.  She was good! And she cut me...she filleted me in this one scene, where she's like, "You don't care about me! You ruined my life!" I felt it in my guts, like "I'm a failure! I have failed her!" Then I have to go to my boss and be told that I'm not getting a promotion and I started crying so hard and I don't know why...I was not prepared for that and I think at one point I said, "I don't know why I'm crying! I'm PMSing and I'm legally allowed to do that! I made no sense but I couldn't stop crying and I'm like, "This isn't usable and Tyler wouldn't cut!

The fun part were definitely the strip club, sitting on the porch talking with the other ladies and the karaoke scene.

On how they find balance and what advice they would give to women who are trying to juggle it all?

Zulay:  We were just having this conversation this morning at my house because they asked me if I had a boyfriend and I said, "No, I don't have a boyfriend and quite frankly, it's not because I don't want to have a boyfriend right now. I would love to have a boyfriend to come home to every night or a husband but, I'm so busy right now.  I think the important thing is as a Latin woman, I feel that often times we fall into that this like work, work, work, or if your married it's all about my husband and your kids and you have to really stop and love yourself.  You have to make sure that you are okay, first.

During the press tour for this movie, we've been really busy promoting this movie and I've been traveling...sometimes you just need to turn your phone off. You have to schedule that in.

Wendi:  I don't have any balance. Honestly! I haven't found it.

When I was growing up in the 80's, I heard it a lot, "You can have it all! You can have the career, the men, the this and the that and if you don't, your just not trying hard enough."  We'll, that's bullshit! You can have it all but not all at the same time and if you had all those things could you service all of those things?  I couldn't. I'm just trying to get 6 hours of sleep in a night and say hello to my husband, Monday thru Friday. I really only see him on Saturday's and every other day of the week is preparing to go to work. Don't feel bad if you don't have it all cause nobody does and people who say they do are liars or in their 70's.

Zulay:  Or they are too in tune with their social media.  Everyone's life is  perfect on social media!

Wendi:  Hashtag "Blessed." Shut up!!!

Zulay:  I'm guilty of that one ever so often. "So blessed!"

I have to say that I enjoyed both Wendi and Zulay's role in The Single Moms Club but after speaking to them both, I was impressed at how well they "became" their characters, in that, you would have thought that they were both "really" moms.  I was able to see the dynamic of these two women who came together to make a film but as they sat in front of me, they seemed like they had been friends forever.

The candidness and humor that they brought to our interview was well received and if  their interview drew you in, just wait until you see them on the screen.  Grab your girlfriends, some tissue and get ready to laugh and cry. I am sure that you will love The Single Moms Club just as much as I did.

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