Actress Tichina Arnold Talks New Lifetime Movie Role

e're used to laughing out loud with Tichina Arnold, whether she's the quintessential Black mom on Everybody Hates Chris or our best friend "Pam" on Martin.

But she can also do drama. And the new Lifetime Original Movie A Day Late and A Dollar Short, showing at 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 19, 2014, has plenty.

BLAC talked with the Arnold about her role in the film-adapted from Terry McMillan's book of the same name, which highlights a matriarch's family woes-working with an all-star cast, family secrets and how she tracks down celebrities on Twitter.

What was it like working with so many acting greats to make this film?

A-freaking-mazing! Whoopi (Goldberg) and I did Everybody Hates Chris together, which was like heaven for me. She is probably the most awesome celebrity on the planet. (She) has just taught me a lot in the time I've worked with her.

Mekhi Phifer, I've known him for years, since New York days, and to finally be able to work with him-and Anika Noni Rose and Kimberly Elise and, of course, the amazing Ving Rhames. Everyone brought their A-game to this film, and I am so happy and proud of it.

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Did you read the book before filming?

No, I am really weird. And I know actors take different approaches. I choose not to read the material first because I don't want to have any idea of what I think it should be. I like to bring something new and fresh to it and then be directed. I love to be directed. If you get with a good director, you can't beat it.

I did my first starring dramatic role, which had no comedy in it whatsoever, (in) Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story (2008). I didn't read that book because it wasn't her autobiography. So I did not want to read the book and have what somebody else thought of her.

It's always refreshing for us to see you in a dramatic role.

I like doing it! I like versatility. I get bored really quickly. Since I was a kid, I've been in show business, and it's all I've done. I live it. Breathe it. Eat it. And to be able to wake up loving what you do every day is awesome. So I try to put my 200 percent into everything I do. I don't always hit-look, that's hit and miss sometimes. But I get the E for effort.

Is this a film the whole family can gather around?

Most definitely! You know, whenever I speak about my experience and give my opinion, it's always based upon what I know, I have experienced and have witnessed. It's good to have films like this because a lot of African-American families, we don't face the problem head on. Every family is dysfunctional, but a lot of African-American families, we don't face the problems the same way. A lot of us don't have family discussions. And I am even from that era and from my mom's era where there were secrets. You know it's there. But put it in a room, put it on the backburner, don't pay attention to it.

And now that I am a mom myself, my daughter, she is from a different era. And these kids, they want to talk about it. But it's refreshing because it shows growth and it shows change for the positive.

So this film definitely displays the dysfunctional African-American family. But it also displays a different type of love, and Terry (McMillan) did an amazing job in extracting what is needed to deal with your issues and your family problems.

What is your character's role in the story?

What I like about the role of Charlotte is that out of all the children, she is closest to the Viola (played by Goldberg). But Charlotte doesn't want to be like her. She is trying to undo what Viola did and how Viola was as a mother, which is part of the whole dysfunctional thing. This movie is so well scripted and how Terry (McMillan) intertwined the characters, it's brilliant actually. And I think this film is going to help a lot of people.

It will make you laugh and make you cry. But it's definitely going to be relatable.

And soon we will see you on Starz new show Survivor's Remorse.

Yes, I booked another gig! (I play) the role of Cassie in LeBron James' new show Survivor's Remorse.

They have not released the script yet. A lot of it has been hush-hush around it. But I am excited because I get to work with Chris Albrecht again, who was my old boss.

Seeing you in so many successful shows, we feel like we know you.

You kind of do. I definitely expose myself on social media, that's for sure.

I love having the access to social media, because it allows people who are in the limelight or in showbiz to have a voice. And it allows me to hear other people's voices and what they think. Whether it's nice things or criticisms or whatever. I think it's cool.

What do people ask you?

People ask the craziest things. And you know what? I answer them.

And I think it's cool. When I am looking for other celebrities, because my sister and I have a foundation called the We Win Foundation, so we were looking for Toni Braxton. And I did a shout-out to all of my followers and was like, "Hey, can anybody find Toni Braxton for me?" And within five minutes, Toni called me.

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