Tichina Arnold Explains the Joys of Being ‘Happily Divorced’

The veteran actress continues her hit streak with new TV Land series and speaks on the status of her singing career

(Image: Press)

Being that the show is based on real life, how do the writers find a balance between reality and the fictionalized interpretations?

Fran is very careful about how she presents the show, she pays attention to every detail, so they make sure they don’t insult anybody because there are a lot of gay jokes but the way they frame it—because we have a gay man writing it—comes from his perspective so it’s not a straight man writing gay jokes. Of course, in the writer’s room, everybody isn’t gay but we have a really great group of writers and I’m happy that Fran is very cognizant of making sure we don’t exclude people or we don’t insult people. My motto is if my daughter can’t watch it, I don’t do it. I constantly keep in my brain that I have people looking up to me. I have young people that watch me and I have old people that have been following me, so I’m always conscious of that and I never want to feel like I’ve let anybody down or that I let myself down, for that matter.

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.

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