Toni Braxton stars as Nina Yarber, a single mother and the lead singer of a small gospel choir, in the Lifetime Original Movie “Twist of Faith,” premiering Saturday, February 9 at 8.7c . For the Grammy Award-winning artist, singing was the easy part – kissing her co-star, David Julian Hirsh, proved to be more challenging.
“I’m a kisser. I love kissing, and kissing to me is very personal,” Braxton explained over the phone. “You see kissing on television and [you’re like] ‘Oh, that seems so easy.’ It’s not easy!”
Other than perfecting the art of on-screen kissing, Braxton had to do very little research on her character, Nina. In fact, it was almost as if the role had been written for her.
“I went to college to be a teacher, so I would have been a teacher just like my character,” she explained. Being a preacher’s kid, Braxton lived near the church and grew up singing in the choir. Acknowledging the many similarities between her life and Nina’s, she said, “If I was not ‘Toni Braxton, The Recording Artist,’ that’s who I would have been.”
There are several notable differences, though. To start, Braxton is the oldest of six kids, and she stars alongside her sisters in WE tv’s “Braxton Family Values,” beginning its third season in March. Braxton was initially against the idea of doing a reality show because she and her peers had worked to create “mystique” about themselves. Eventually, she recognized that times have changed.
“Exposing your life is part of being an entertainer,” she said. “I remember my generation had supermodels on the covers of all the magazines. Now the reality stars are on the magazines!”
One thing Braxton has not been quiet about is her youngest son Diezel’s Autism. She is a spokesperson for Autism Speaks, an organization that helped her through Diezel’s diagnosis when Braxton didn’t know where to turn and was blaming herself. She views her involvement as a chance to “pay it forward,” hoping she can help other parents going through experiences similar to hers.
Braxton is also active with the American Heart Association and just strutted down the catwalk of The Heart Truth's annual Red Dress Collection fashion show on Wednesday night. Having been diagnosed with heart disease, Braxton’s involvement with the AHA helps her remember to see her doctor to have her blood pressure and cholesterol checked.
“It forces me to take care of myself so I can be a better mom for my kids,” Braxton explained. “As a parent – I have a 9 and 11 year old – I’m often doing things with the kids if I’m not working. Sometimes we, as women, forget to take the time for ourselves.”
So what does this busy singer, actress, reality star, activist, and mother of two like to do when she a few minutes to herself? She enjoys going out for a quick manicure, reading books, or sitting at home to watch Lifetime, of course. “Lifetime,” said Braxton, “is like the greatest thing ever.”
Don't forget to tune in this Saturday, February 9, for the "Twist of Faith" premiere at 8.7c