Tichina Arnold Talks Taking Role Intended For White Actress

TV Land Hosts An Evening With Betty White At The Academy Of Television Arts & Sciences

Tichina Arnold is one whose comedic talent has made her roles on shows MartinEverybody Hates Chris, and now Happily Divorced somemorable. So much so that it’s sometimes frustrating to see that the actress-singer doesn’t have an Emmy on her mantle. Still, the veteran actress takes comfort in her roles and during an interview with BlackEnterprise.com, noted how her talent is recognized enough to continue to provide her with roles. In fact her most recent one on the Fran Drescher-starring series was originally intended for a white actress.

Below, you can see Tichina explain how she ended up with the part as well as touch on the status of her singing career and Broadway ambitions.

It speaks volumes to your talent that you got this role considering that Judy wasn’t a Black woman.

I tell my agent all the time to send me out for roles that are written for White women, green women—I don’t care, because you know, I may bring something different to the role.

And it must be cool that you character actually gets to sing, how did that happen?

Fran had a talk show called The Tawk and by me going on that show it allowed us to meet each other, and I actually sang. When I went up for audition [for Happily Ever After], she was like, “Ooh, I want your character to sing, I love your singing!” So, that helps me getting roles, but it also helps me trust her in delegating the role and bringing another asset to me because Judy is a real woman, which is what I like about her. Judy is a Jewish redhead girl, who’s really her best friend. On my first day at work, I met Judy and she was like, “I’m so glad you’re playing me. You’re the best me I ever saw.” [Laughs]

With three hit shows already under your belt, what do you want your legacy to be?

I want my legacy to be good work and not so much about, “Did you hear what TV show she’s on?” When you do movies, television and plays it’s like good music. A good song will live on forever, so that’s how I treat my work. When I’m dead and gone, my work will be around for people to enjoy it. I always want to do my job to the best of my abilities. For me, it’s about the work and not so much—in my 20s I had that perspective where I want to be a star, I want to be a celebrity, I got to be seen, but I don’t give a damn about all that now. I’m about being a mother first but I find it a higher compliment when people say, “I’ve seen your work and I’ve loved you in everything you’ve done.” To me that’s the best. It’s about the work, how you make people feel and what kind of impression you leave on people.

Speaking of impressions, your band, Know Pressure, has been getting good feedback. Should we expect an album anytime soon?

I’ve been working on an album for several years. Basically, I haven’t given my singing career proper attention because every time I try to, I get [acting] work. So whatever’s bringing money to my household, that’s what I’m doing, but while doing that I got to think of something to keep my chops up because with singing, your voice is like an instrument and you got to continue to use it. So, I put a quick band together so I can go and work out my material, hear my songs on stage and hear how they sound, and see what the audience thinks of it. It’s a great outlet for me. Now I’m kind of addicted to it because it allows me to express myself. There’s nothing like being on stage and feeling the audience energy.

A lot of actors are taking their talents to Broadway as of late and musicals are in right now. Any plans to hit the Great White Way?

I would love to do Broadway, it’s coming. I don’t know in what form, shape or fashion but it’s coming and I want to do it so bad. I don’t know when it’s coming but I hope it comes in a big way. I’ve just done so much theatre but I’ve never made it to Broadway or off-Broadway. Keep your fingers crossed with that one.

You can read the interview in full over at BlackEnterprise.com.