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Tichina Arnold Dishes on Her Directorial Debut, Her Divorce, Breast Cancer & Martin | EURexclusiveWATCH

*Iconic TV star Tichina Arnold is making her directorial debut with the short film “Oh Baby Baby.”  It premiers October 8th on BET Her for breast cancer month. In an exclusive interview with iHeart Radio and EURweb Spotlight host Jazmyn ‘Jaz’ Summers, the former “Martin” and current “The Neighborhood” star shares her thoughts on “Martin,” her new divorce, and her first directing experience.

TELL US ABOUT HOW YOU CAME TO DIRECT ‘OH BABY BABY’
The opportunity presented itself with beautiful Tressa (Smallwood) and her company., I’ve been told, you should direct.  My sister has been praying like you gotta direct. And I just consistently just shied away from it because I didn’t think I was ready. This situation presented itself and I said what better time to do it., I lost a few people to breast cancer. I know somebody right now who has breast cancer who’s very close to me. I just had one of my friends who had to have a mastectomy. And I love the fact that you know, these film shorts were written by the women who actually went through these horrific moments, being told the C word.

HOW DID YOU PREPARE TO TELL THE STORY OF A WOMAN GETTING CANCER FROM GOING THROUGH IVF TO REALIZE HER DREAM OF HAVING A BABY?  
 Her world is shattered. What was more gratifying for me to do this is the woman who actually went through it is now a breast cancer survivor and was there,  I had a lot of help because I had firsthand information from her.   I didn’t know a lot about IVF treatment. I had to read up on it and get familiar with it. It’s why it’s so important that we as Black women tell and direct our own stories and not let somebody else tell them.

MARTIN WAS THE DEFINING SHOW FOR YOUR CAREER AND FOR SO MANY OF US BUT YOU WERE ACTING LONG BEFORE THEN. HOW LONG HAVE YOU BEEN IN THE GAME?  
I say since three years old.  I started singing in church at the age of three. So that was the first time I literally was able to feel what its like to entertain. And from that moment on, I just kind of got the bug. And by the time I turned 11, I was full on. So by the time I turned 12, going into 13, I did my first performance at the Billy Holiday Theater in New York.  And now I’m turning 53.

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TheWaitingRoom-OhBabyBaby-(courtesy BET)
TheWaitingRoom-OhBabyBaby-(courtesy BET)

YOU JUST RECEIVED THE LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD FROM THE  URBAN LEAGUE. HOW DOES IT FEEL TO GET THIS WHILE YOU’RE STILL YOUNG?

I’m grateful.  I’m 53 now and I have a daughter who’s 18 going on 55. Pray for me. And I’m seeing the fruits of my labor through her as well.  It’s like I’m watching my mini-me, who’s now taller than me, But to be able to see the fruits of your labor is very rewarding. It’s humbling that people say that they can still laugh. after 30 years of “Martin.” Now I have an opportunity again with another comedic great to be able to work with Cedric the Entertainer, who is an amazing human being. God has blessed me and I honor it. I respect it, I cherish it. And I wanna, just keep going.

WHAT WAS THE MOST CHALLENGING, PAINFUL PART OF YOUR CAREER? 
The most difficult era of time was after “Martin” because I was typecast. I wasn’t able to book anything. It’s like the whole industry was saying, Oh no, we love her, We know her, but no, she wouldn’t be right for this role. So to be told, Oh, you love me, but you’re not gonna gimme a job was tough. Then I realized that I have to start putting into and investing in myself because like I try to tell a lot of young people that get in the industry, you are your own brand. You are how you sell your brand, how you package your brand, how you respect your brand, and what you put back into your brand. You’ll get it back. but you have to be patient. Things are not gonna come when you want them to come. But your words are very powerful and you can manifest whatever it is that you want.  You take a few hard knocks. You learn from your mistakes.

WAS IT TOUGH BEING IN THE MIDDLE OF THE  MARTIN TISHA CAMPBELL BEEF  BACK THEN WHEN SHE ACCUSED HIM OF HARASSING HER AND LEFT THE SHOW? 
Well, that situation I don’t get into because, you know, there’s always two sides to every story. What I do appreciate about that situation was neither Martin nor Tisha made me feel uncomfortable with their situation and what they were going through. It wasn’t easy, but we’re adults and we have to be responsible and we have to hear each other out. We have to listen to each other. And we got through it. They got through it. And that’s what matters. Because now they can be an example to others that are in a situation like that that you can get through it and that you can get to a point where you heal. It’s healed now.

Martin Lawrence - Tisha Campbell
Martin Lawrence – Tisha Campbell

AND OFFICIALLY NO MARTIN REBOOT? 
We wanted it but it will never, ever, ever be the same. Tommy is no longer with us and Martin can never be the same without Tommy.

 YOU JUST GOT DIVORCED FOR THE SECOND TIME THIS YEAR. THERE WERE ACCUSATIONS OF CHEATING. HOW ARE YOU GETTING THROUGH IT?
I always check myself. What did I do wrong? Where did it go wrong? What did I do wrong? You have to take responsibility for your own actions and then once you take responsibility for your own actions and you check yourself, you’re able to make better decisions.

divorced final
Credit: TMZ

WILL YOU GET MARRIED AGAIN?  WILL THE THIRD TIME BE THE CHARM?
I’m single now but you can’t let divorce or a negative situation take over your life. And it’s just a process. It’s life and that’s how life is. You get through it.  I walk in faith and not in fear. You cannot walk in fear. Because once fear takes over, then it becomes chaos. You have to dig your heels in the ground and really believe in God or whatever higher power you believe in. And you, persevere, and there’s no feeling sorry for yourself.. I always pray for anyone that has to go through a divorce or go through a bad breakup but you just have to keep going and get through it.

AFRICAN AMERICAN WOMEN DIE FROM AT MUCH HIGHER RATES FROM BREAST CANCER THAN WHITE WOMEN, WHAT IS YOUR MESSAGE TO US?
No one ever wants to get the C word.  if you are diagnosed with cancer, just know that you can live. And I just tell people, let’s avoid getting the C word or the diagnosis, and let’s take care of ourselves. Take care of your body. Because we’re up against a lot of awful things. We got bad chemicals in our food, artificial things that we’re digesting and breathing. So take care of yourself and your body will take care of you. and go to the doctor. Get your checkups.  I get my physicals every six months. Go to the doctor at least twice a year and you’ll be ahead of the game.

Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell
Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell / GETTY

ARE WE GOING TO SEE MORE DIRECTING FROM YOU?
I’m hoping to direct an episode of The Neighborhood. I’m entertaining all directing talk and I’ve been shadowing, other directors. So we’ll see.  I hope so.

Tichina Arnold
Tichina Arnold

You can catch the full conversation in the video at the top.  She is truly an inspiration.

Jazmyn Summers
Jazmyn Summers

Interview/article by Jazmyn Summers. Follow her @jaztalk1 on InstagramTwitter, and Facebook. And please don’t forget to subscribe to Jazmyn Summers’ YouTube.

Edited for clarity

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