Aretha “Ms. Respect” Tatum is a minister and the director of Courage Over Fear Productions, a facet of Free Life – Life Changing Ministries.
Tatum is also an award-winning filmmaker who uses film to ignite faith, the author of two award-winning books, a motivational speaker, and a freelance writer.
Her work has appeared in various publications including War Cry, a national publication of the Salvation Army.
Additionally, Aretha is an experienced accountant who has worked for Clear Channel Communications (WGCI AM and WGCI FM Radio), and the U. S. Department of the Treasury.
Her personal mission is to always LIVE ON PURPOSE!!!
Meet Aretha Tatum
What did you originally want to be when you grow up?
Early on I believe that I wanted to be a woman in the business world. I wanted to wear suits, carry a briefcase, and work in an office. That quickly changed to an interest in law enforcement and acting as I got a little older.
How did you get into Media and Entertainment Industry?
A friend from college started working for a Radio Station in Chicago in the Accounting department and she gave me the opportunity to work there as well. I loved being in that environment. Eventually I ended up taking another accounting position with another company.
Years later at the age of forty-three I was called into ministry and later realized that Media and Entertainment is the area that God wanted to use me in. So at forty-seven I published my first book, later I hosted and produced my own internet radio show, and then began writing articles and screenplays. At the age of fifty I took one of my screenplays and produced and directed my first faith-based short film.
Who were your mentors?
I had a village. So many people have encouraged and inspired me along the way. My high school English teacher said to me “I expect great things from you” and I held on to that. I have been able to glean from various independent filmmakers that I have met over the last several years and I happily share that information with the first time filmmakers that I meet.
What is your greatest achievement?
It wasn’t my doing, but the call into ministry was life changing. That is when I learned how to live on purpose. Outside of that publishing my first book and writing, directing and producing my first short film.
What is your greatest disappointment?
I didn’t pass the CPA exam. I never planned on staying in the accounting field. I figured my personality didn’t really fit the profession (I actually took a personality test which confirmed it), but I wanted to have that “notch” on my belt and I wasn’t able to do it.
Name your biggest pet peeves.
When a person intentionally doesn’t keep their word. Don’t say it if you’re not going to do it.
What are your predictions for media and entertainment over the next decade?
I believe that there will be a greater rise in the number of independent artists in Media and Entertainment. The change in technology has opened the door for creative people to be able to share their content with the world on their own.
Name a job you had that would surprise people.
Years ago a good friend opened an event rental space and he offered a cash bar to his clients. In the beginning he hired professional bartenders but he didn’t want them to collect the money so he paid me to handle the money. Accountants can be used in any industry.
What famous actor plays you in your life story?
Jennifer Hudson was cast to play Aretha Franklin in the movie Respect and I think she could play a good Aretha Tatum as well.
What do you wish you had more time to do?
What drives you to create?
The Lord drives me to create. The Holy Spirit will drop an idea in my spirit and it will replay in my head until I write it down. Once I write it down I can’t let it go until I complete it. Whether it is a book, an article or a screenplay you have to get it out of your head to make it real or else it is just a thought.