Interviews

Getting To Know Tichina Arnold

Gown, vintage. Jewelry by Dana Campbell.

Photography by Kwaku Alston. Styled by Dana Campbell.

The luminous Tichina Arnold brings laughter and love to The Neighborhood.


By Lisa Kennedy

When Tichina Arnold hopped on the video call, she was in a parking structure in Century City messing with a boot. No, not a DMV boot, but an orthopedic one. Social media followers of Arnold (and you are legion) know that the star—who gives such verve to Tina Butler on the hit sitcom The Neighborhood —has been recovering from foot surgery. (Her path to healing gets a nod at the start of Season 3.) "Hold on one second, one second—I'm getting the boot," she shouts to someone honking for no good reason. She waves said boot. "I never thought I'd be so excited about a goddamn boot," says Arnold, adding with a laugh, "I'm trying to get my sexy back, or at least half of my sexy back."

Arnold, 51, has spent more than 30 years working in television and film. The Queens, New York native started acting at 11 and hasn't had many lulls since. She did soaps (Ryan's Hope), sang and danced (Little Shop of Horrors), and played pivotal roles in two popular comedies that were part of the surge in Black television programming: first as Pam, Tisha Campbell's bestie on Martin, and a few years later as mom Rochelle on Chris Rock's critically appreciated Everybody Hates Chris.

Now she's bringing no small amount of smarts and sparkle opposite another comedy luminary. Cedric the Entertainer (an executive producer on The Neighborhood) portrays Calvin Butler, who's vexed—and over time kind of charmed—when small-towners Dave and Gemma Johnson (Max Greenfield and Beth Behrs) and their young son settle next door in a predominantly Black neighborhood.

The Neighborhood airs on Mondays at 8/7c on CBS and streams Paramount+.

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