In the hustle-and-bustle of workweek life, it’s easy to be headstrong about the to-do list, checking items off, and calling it a day. When you get the opportunity to speak with actor-singer-comedian David Mann, however, your world suddenly stops—even if you’re sitting in your car in a Starbucks parking lot between appointments. Immediately, you’re struck by the joy—of the heavenly variety, of course—that fuels this guy’s life. By now, most of us are wise enough to understand the tears of a comedian can be real, and very deep—even the best humorists aren’t immune to real life situations—but for David his perspective is rooted in Christ. And that perspective is apparent in his very spirit.
Then, amid conversation, you hear a screeching laughter joining in from—well, at first, I wasn’t exactly sure—but it turns out our interview was a family affair as Tamela Mann was also on the line, albeit from a separate vehicle than David. The three of us conversed from three different cars in two different cities about touring life, family life and the One whom is the source of all life.
The next leg of the Mann World Family Tour is coming up, so can you brag on the talents of your wife and kids a little?
David Mann: Well, for one, it’s a great honor to have my family [with me] to go out and to minister, to bring joy, bring some laughter, bring some hope to people for those two-and-a-half to three hours. That’s what kind of gets me the most—that we actually get to do this together, as a family, and we understand that it’s not often that people get to do that.
When you see your family on-stage, how does that inspire you as a performer, as a husband, and as a father?
DM: You know, my kids grew up around the business all their lives. To see them doing something they love to do, something that they grew up watching Mommy and Daddy do, [sometimes] I find myself sitting on the side of the stage with the “proud-father chest,” and I’m like, “Wow, this is amazing.” Not to mention, I get the chance to be superfan to Tamela Mann every night. I sing and dance on every song. I cry when she cries. I do an extra little concert every night along with her from back stage. [Laughs]
Tamela Mann: And let me tell you, he’s singing harder than I am!
DM: I’m the reason she’s able to hit those high notes every night! [Laughs]
What have you been able to apply to your own craft from watching your kids perform?
DM: They keep us innovative. They keep us creative. And you know what’s funny—we had this conversation yesterday—they keep us in the “know,” so-to-speak. They keep us up on what’s happening now, so we won’t get left behind as “old people.”
Could you have envisioned this career you have now when you were performing community theater and high school plays growing up?
DM: I had no idea. We’ve always had hopes, wishes, and dreams, but never could’ve imagined touring the world at somebody else’s expense—and to be out on tour with our kids, doing movies, having our own television show. To be able to do this, doing what we love and to see God’s grace on us, we could have never imagined it this way. For Tamela and me, we say it’s nothing but the grace of God.
Why is Jesus the catalyst in everything that you do—acting and play characters, performing, even as husbands and wives?
TM: My faith is my foundation. My faith is my every day. Everything has taken part because of my faith. I’m trying to represent Him to the best of my ability at all times. I’m not saying that I’m perfect, I mess up, but the first thing [I always try to do] is to please God and make Him, my Heavenly Father, proud of what I’m doing. I just know that God is faithful, and I’m just trying to be as faithful as I can to Him and to represent Him well every time I get an opportunity to stand before His people. Whether it’s in laughter or in song, I just want to be a blessing to somebody else.
DM: For us, this is a passion, this is what we love to do. Think about it, a lot of people don’t get to do what they genuinely love to do, and get paid to do it, and are able to just enjoy it. Some go to work every day and it’s like, “I hate this job.” We’re so excited about getting ready to go on this tour. We are getting to where it is hard to sleep because we’re so ready to go! For [Tamela], I know she enjoys seeing the people when she sings those songs—“Take Me To The King,” “I Can Only Imagine”— all those different songs, she loves seeing the reaction of the people. When I go out and I do my stand-up, I love seeing the reaction of the people. I like to say, “I want to make somebody laugh until they pass out, then I know I’m doing good.”
Do you ever picture God smiling when you’re at work?
TM: Yes. I would hope so! With [God] on our side, what can go wrong? How can we fail when He is with us? People must think I’m crazy right now, because I’m waving my hands in this car… I’m just really excited about doing for the Kingdom. That’s what it’s all about. It’s to help win as many souls as we can for God’s Kingdom.
Tamela, you’ve mentioned singing is you first love, David, what is yours?
DM: My first love is acting. It’s just something I love to do. I love to get the script, I love to go and meet the live audience, I love to be on stage with a live audience. It’s my first love.
What’s your take on the emergence of the Christian film industry, and would you be on-board to be involved in getting more faith-based, family-friendly comedies off the ground?
DM: I think everybody is starting to [take notice]. It’s been a genre that has been under-served. I think the powers-at-be are starting to recognize, “Wait a minute, everybody doesn’t want ruckus and craziness and foolishness, some people want to see genuinely good stories that are spreading the word of God and helping to build the Kingdom.” As far as comedies, I would definitely get in on it.
David, other than your wife, of course, who are some of your favorite singers or albums?
DM: I listen to everybody from Matt Redman to Newsboys to Kirk Franklin to Daryl Coley to James Moore to MercyMe.
What about you, Tamela?
TM: I’m really loving Travis Greene and Tasha Cobbs [Leonard] right now. Of course, Kari Jobe, I put her on a lot when I’m getting ready for a concert to get me in the mood and to calm me down. I listen to a lot of Anthony Brown’s worship, as well. I kind of hop around.
When you’re able to get some free time, what do you guys enjoy doing as a family?
TM: I love water parks. A lot of times, we barbecue just to get the family together. I like cooking for the whole family and inviting them over. Sitting around and watching a movie or talking, with the kids running around, screaming, making a bunch of noise…
DM: …and me wondering when they’re going home. [Laughs]
TM: Family time. We put the “funny” in “dysfunctional.” [Laughs] We always have to see each other. We see our kids almost every day. If I don’t hear from them, I’ll call them and say, “I didn’t hear from you today!” We’re always doing something together—dinner or just hanging out at the house, at the pool, fishing. Because we travel so much, we try to do as much as we can with the grandbabies when we’re home.
DM: Family comes first, always, no matter what you do.
TM: …after the Lord. The Lord is first, above all things.