Tichina Arnold Talks Triumph Awards
Tichina Arnold is hilarious. But you already knew that.
For 30 years, Tichina’s comedic charisma has captured our funny bones and laced our TV screens with feel-good escape.
The Queens-bred actress brought to life the witty and fly “Pamela James” as she sparred with Martin Lawrence’s character on hit TV sitcom Martin. She gave us the no-nonsense, humorous and resourceful “Rochelle” in Chris Rock’s loosely based autobiographical series, Everybody Hates Chris and now she’s adjusting to life in the spotlight as “Cassie,” the mother of a basketball star in the Lebron James co-produced TV show, Survivor’s Remorse, which recently received the green light for a third season.
And we can’t forget the roles in between.
On October 3, the world will get to see the starlet take the stage as host of the first live broadcast of the Triumph Awards, airing on TV One in partnership with the National Action Network and Rev. Al Sharpton. It also marks Tichina’s first hosting gig.
“Girl, I didn’t know what to expect! I tried not to be scared because it’s kind of like having a blank slate and you don’t know what’s going to happen,” she told JET. “But I definitely want to be a part of it again. It was great being a part of something as iconic as I think it will be because it’s recognizing all the amazing people in front [of] and behind the cameras and in corporate America that contribute to positive, philanthropic things to give back to communities.”
The awards show, filmed in Atlanta in early August, highlights the societal impact imparted on the world through philanthropic contributions as well as advocacy for social justice and human rights.
In this session of 5 things, we caught up with Mrs. Tichina and talked show business, her We Win Foundation and of course, the Triumph Awards.
When Duty Calls Be Triumph[ant] and Keep the Show Rollin’
“I’m trying to look fabulous, but I blew out my hamstring a day before the Triumph Awards shoot. I was frustrated about that because you know, I like performing at 200 percent. I did this whole homage to James Brown. But as they say, ‘the show must go on!'”
On Hollywood Survival as a Comedic Black Actress
“To be a comedic actress in Hollywood, it has its challenges and will always have its challenges. But I believe if we had more representation in the writing room and more representation as producers and directors, it would be a wonderful thing. You have so many amazing Black talent and gifted people, we just need a platform. And like Viola Davis said, we need opportunity and it’s what you do with the opportunity. It’s up to me what I will do with the gifts that I have, and I don’t let showbiz determine who I am or make or break me — because it can if you’re in it for the wrong reasons. I’m in show business to do good work because I enjoy the work. When you come at it from that perspective, you can do no wrong.”
The Black Laverne & Shirley
“Hopefully in the near future Tisha and I can do something together again. I’m really happy for her! It’s about time she put something out because she has a really, really beautiful voice. Tisha’s a triple threat. She loves singing, dancing and acting. She’s actually been in show business longer than I have. She’s always had a passion and fire inside of her. So it’s great to see her out performing again. It’s awesome! We’re like the Black Laverne & Shirley.” (Laughs)
Throw your ‘L’s Up
“I talk about Lupus every chance I get — just the battles with it and millions of Americans all around the world. So when my sister told me she wanted to talk about it being the seventh disease she’s been diagnosed with, we started the We Win Foundation. We just decided that we were not going to sit idle and fade into the darkness quietly. We’re going to talk about it. As we began to talk about it, people came out of the wood works. It became ‘Oh Tichina, I love your work, but the foundation…my mom has Lupus.’ It just opened up a huge conversation where people can know that they’re not alone. You don’t have to suffer in silence. We want to ease the pain. We have to help people realize that they don’t have to die from it.”
No Business, Like Show Business
“Show business is all I’ve done — it’s my job, my passion. To be able to love what you do is a blessing in and of itself. It takes a lot of hard work. I’ve been where I didn’t have two nickels to rub together, but I turned down work because it wasn’t work. Instead, it was selling myself out and I refused to do that. You have to believe in what it is that you do and you have to respect what it is you’re doing. I really appreciate what I do and want to make sure I leave a legacy of doing good work and entertaining people and making people laugh, cry and inciting thought. Show business has always been my life and I have to respect that, groom it and cultivate it.”
“I appreciate everyone’s prayers and just thank you! I really appreciated everyone hanging in there with me for the past 30 years. I’ve got more to do! Definitely follow me on social media, mainly on Periscope [and] Instagram — in that order!”