by Karu F. Daniels
Not many fortysomething actresses can boast a career spanning four decades. Thanks to appearances in early ‘80s films and starring roles on the now classic Martin and Everybody Hates Chris, Tichina Arnold holds that distinction. And she’s still at it as Fran Drescher’s best gal pal on TV Land’s Happily Divorced. Here, the 43-year-old New York born singer lets loose on marriage, rumors that she’s a lesbian and why she loves a good Twitter brawl.
I realized I made it…when I got paid [after booking soap opera] Ryan’s Hope. It was a completely different world because I was coming from musical theater. Once I was in front of those cameras, I got the bug.
The most humbling thing…is being a mother. I’m humbled by the fact that when I was on Everybody Hates Chris, I would work 16-hour days and come home and have to wipe somebody’s butt.
My first splurge was…a house in Atlanta when I was on Martin. I was 27. It was the only house on the hill in this subdivision, across from Jermaine Dupri and down the road from Evander Holyfield. My boyfriend at that time wanted to buy it but he couldn’t afford it. So, I bought it. Everybody lived in it but me. I was living in California and didn’t go back and forth to Atlanta too much.
Gay husbands…are called “gusbands.” I told my real husband, “Listen honey, you’re going to be happy to have him around because he’s going to do all the things that you don’t want to do.” Now, he introduces him to his friends as my “gusband.” Every woman needs one.
You’re not a celebrity until…you’ve had a gay rumor. I’ve been around gays, transgenders and transsexuals. I accept people for whom and what they are. Everybody says you’re guilty by association. What do I have to be guilty about? I know lesbians. My friends are my friends and I don’t give a damn what people think.
Marriage equality…is not just about love. It’s about property, belongings, what you built together, what you share together and the things people don’t realize that are caught in the balance of two people not being able to have this union. The institution of marriage was built for the purposes of property, not love.
Martin Lawrence…taught me to keep on my toes. Once those cameras started rolling, he would go off script in a matter of seconds. You had to be ready. That’s what I loved about his comedy. It prepared me to be a better comedic actress.