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  • - One of my favorite things about this podcast

  • and having the opportunity to host it

  • and have these conversations is that

  • there are all these black actors that just feel like

  • family to me,

  • because they've been in all of the stuff that I've watched,

  • whether it was sitcoms or movies.

  • Like you can see Blair Underwood in the show,

  • and then you go and see this movie

  • and it's Blair Underwood again, you know?

  • So it feels like I know y'all, kinda, sorta.

  • - Hey, girl, hey.

  • - Hey, it's good to finally meet you in person.

  • (laughing)

  • I feel this was especially true in the '90s.

  • The '90s was just so black, media-wise, movies, television.

  • - Just so good, yes. - I know.

  • What was goin' out for roles in the '90s like,

  • when it was so black?

  • Was it like, there are so many opportunities around

  • for everyone?

  • - Well, lets just talk about how that's, I just miss that.

  • I miss the fact that you could turn on CBS, ABC, NBC

  • and there was opportunity and different shows showing us,

  • showing our family life.

  • - In different ways--

  • - Comedies, shoot, sketch comedy, sitcoms,

  • different things that had our experience on television

  • that you didn't have like to pay for, that you didn't have

  • to have your Netflix, or whatever,

  • to get true, authentic stories about us and our race.

  • But again, different moments in our families,

  • so I would love to see that come back.

  • - Well, I'm optimistic that we can make--

  • - Oh, we can keep hope alive, now!

  • - That we can make media black again!

  • - Absolutely, all the way around.

  • - All the way around.

  • - Just have the diversity.

  • - At least try.

  • - Try a little harder.

  • - Try a little harder.

  • There you go, there you go.

  • In the '90s you were one of the it girls

  • as far as Black Hollywood, Black media.

  • You were on shows-

  • - Was I considered that?

  • I guess-

  • - I think so, I mean remember the essence cover

  • with Halle Berry-

  • - True that, true that. - And Loretta Devine?

  • Yeah, I would absolutely class you in those ladies.

  • This is just gonna be like an hour-long love fest,

  • so I hope you're okay with compliments.

  • - Okay, okay, I'll be okay, I'll be okay.

  • - Okay, I'm not so I also apologize.

  • - I'll be all right, I'll make it through.

  • - Okay.

  • But yeah, you were on shows that like everybody loved

  • and everybody watched, "The Fresh Prince,"

  • "Family Matters," "Steve Harvey," and this is all before

  • getting your own sitcom.

  • - Yeah.

  • - What was it like to be a part

  • of so many different sitcoms?

  • Like, was the energy different on each set?

  • Is it sort of like, "Okay, this is a Black sitcom, we know

  • "how this works?"

  • or just like-

  • - Yeah I think it's two parts, right?

  • One thing we know about Hollywood, or I'll say I know

  • about Hollywood, is they like something new.

  • - Yeah.

  • - I was a new girl, I was a new, fresh face.

  • You know, it really kind of came easy, because again,

  • this industry likes new, so someone that they hadn't seen

  • on everything before.

  • So, I do believe that as an actor it is easier in that

  • beginning of your career when, you know, it's like,

  • oh, let's have her,

  • that's somebody new that people are talking about,

  • okay, then let's have her over here

  • because that's somebody that's new

  • that they're talking about.

  • You know?

  • So I believe that played into it a lot.

  • it was always fun,

  • it is always fun to be the guest star.

  • - Was there any point while you were guest-starring

  • where you were like, okay, this is fun and it's cute

  • but like I'm ready to like be the star-star

  • and not the guest star?

  • - Here's what I'll say about me.

  • (laughing)

  • As calculated as I am now in my life,

  • I wish I was calculated back then.

  • I wasn't calculated.

  • It was all so new to me,

  • every opportunity was like,

  • "Oh, this is great."

  • I think now, looking back,

  • If I knew what I know now about the industry,

  • it would've been way more conversations with my people

  • and agents and managers about, okay, now I have this body

  • of work, now we need to take that to different networks

  • and show them what I've been doing,

  • and show them that I could possibly have my own show

  • or create my own show.

  • I was really, honestly, figuring it all out, still,

  • you know so that's what I'll say.

  • It was all great, but my plan was not as strategic

  • as it probably should have been,

  • me not even thinking of that at the time.

  • - That makes sense.

  • I feel like that would've been me, as well.

  • - Just happy, happy-go-lucky.

  • And just like, okay, we working everything is paid

  • for, okay, cool, great.

  • - Families eating

  • - "What's the next one?"

  • - "Fantastic."

  • (laughing)

  • - Is there any guest-starring role

  • that was your favorite?

  • Or, I don't know if it's like how you can't pick

  • a favorite kid, so I won't-

  • - Oh, that's easy though!

  • No, that's easy.

  • - Oh, okay, go ahead!

  • - So especially back then, The Fresh Prince.

  • The Fresh Prince, first of all, when I did it

  • was like, that show on television.

  • - Oh my gosh, I never missed an episode.

  • - It was right when it was the biggest thing on television,

  • and you know, first of all, meeting Pam Grier.

  • I had never met Pam Grier.

  • - Oh my gosh.

  • - So, when I met Pam Grier on set she was so nice,

  • and she was like, girl, look, I do my own makeup.

  • If you don't like what they doing, you do it yourself.

  • 'Cause they don't know what's goin' on girl, you better do

  • what you know that's gonna make you look good.

  • Don't be coming out there like...

  • She was all of that.

  • You know?

  • - That's a good point 'cause I'd imagine that-

  • - She was great, she was amazing, and to this day people

  • just love that episode that she played my mom.

  • - So, so good.

  • - It was so fun, and the whole,

  • "Oh, you slept with Candace!"

  • People will say it to me, people just love that episode.

  • - Let me know, I will be good.

  • (laughing)

  • - God forbid.

  • (laughing)

  • - [Elise] "Are you on click?"

  • Some just say no.

  • (laughing)

  • - [Tracy] Okay.

  • (laughing)

  • We set.

  • - [Elise] Oh okay.

  • - [Producer] Sorry, you don't have to fully answer

  • the question cause we got it, but--

  • - [Elise] Oh I'm sorry, which one we doing?

  • - [Producer] We're just redoing the Essence cover,

  • and she's gonna ask you what you remember

  • from being a part of it,

  • if you could just like,

  • answer it and just say few sentences, and then we can stop.

  • - Yeah, just like for 10 seconds.

  • (producers talk amongst each other)

  • All right, so the late nineties, I consider truly the golden

  • era for black people on television.

  • And I feel like the best example of this is the Essence

  • cover that you were on Ford's 30th anniversary cover.

  • I mean not a big deal, it was just you, Queen Latifah,

  • Michael Michelle, Loretta Devine, Vivica Fox, Halle Berry

  • Jada Pinkett Smith, Regina King,

  • you know, just yeah.

  • You were soon starring in your own

  • sitcom, "The Hughleys" 1998 through 2002.

  • I was a fan of it,

  • like from the very beginning because I was really, really

  • into stand up comedy when I was younger.

  • Still am.

  • And I remember D.L. Hughley as a host of comic view.

  • I was like, this is going to be funny.

  • And it was funny.

  • It was one of my favorite shows.

  • Did you have to audition for this role?

  • Because again, like during this time,

  • like you're kind of everywhere.

  • - No I didn't, no, I didn't.

  • But let's talk about that for a moment.

  • Now we're in this moment of, you know, people creating.

  • African Americans creating content and how important

  • that is and how that is helpful to people's careers

  • and acknowledging people who can have the ability

  • to have ideas and create them.

  • So I like to emphasize the fact that, you know, D.L.

  • and his comedy and everything was the creator executive

  • producer of The Hughleys.

  • - I do not think I realized that.

  • - And people don't know that this was all a brainchild

  • from the comedy that he did,

  • that ABC came to him and gave him his own show off

  • of what he had already accomplished.

  • So they took that and made that the show.

  • So I think, you know, even he does, I mean he doesn't

  • really talk about that, but that is the truth,

  • that it was all a brainchild off of the comedy

  • that made that show happen.

  • And no, I didn't audition for it.

  • This was after, you know, and in the beginning of my career

  • I was considered more of, cause you say a film actress

  • coming from Rosewood, then Money Talks

  • and then after that, thank you,

  • and then doing The Hughleys.

  • So ABC offered me The Hughleys, which was a blessing

  • because you know, they thought we look well together

  • playing husband and wife, but you know, being

  • my first sitcom, that was my second television show.

  • But my first sitcom, you know, I learned a lot on that set

  • and learned a lot about having the position of being

  • the star, you know, and what that means.

  • And it was fun behind the scenes to be able to go,

  • oh, we're gonna have like your cousin and this.

  • It'd be like, who do you like?

  • And being in that process.

  • Oh yeah, I love Vivica.

  • Vivica played like my cousin on this show.

  • - So, your input was considered--

  • - They would ask, you know, who do you like?

  • And I was like, okay, this is cool.

  • And I just loved being on that show.

  • And I think people also forget how, you know,

  • not on the nose political, but it was very political

  • about living in a neighborhood that, you know,

  • you were the outsiders coming into a neighborhood

  • that maybe people didn't think that you fit.

  • And a community embracing us and how we as a family dealt

  • with those different things and our, you know,

  • other race neighbors and all of those things

  • and how we still had issues and problems

  • but stuck together as a family.

  • I think it was really an important show that people

  • seem to forget that.

  • And I think, you have lots of, you know,

  • different shows that have embraced those themes

  • like The Neighborhood, like Black-ish,

  • like things like that,

  • which really stemmed from that family element

  • that we had on the show.

  • - Did you find that it was more difficult

  • for you to get roles as a black woman?

  • - I think, you know what, for me, the interesting thing

  • was around, let