The veteran of three hit sitcoms, Martin, One on One and Everybody Hates Chris, Tichina Arnold is going for number four with the June 15 debut of Happily Divorced. Arnold is playing Fran Drescher’s best friend, Judi, in a new TV Land comedy that’s based on Drescher’s relationship with her ex, Peter Jacobson (the show’s co-creator/producer), who announced he was gay after 17 years of marriage.
“I think it’s going to be hilarious,” says Arnold, declaring herself “honored, impressed, flattered, grateful and happy” to be working with Drescher and cast regulars John Michael Higgins, Rita Moreno, Robert Walden and Valente Rodriguez. “God blessed me so far to be a part of three amazing shows. That doesn’t normally come in an actor’s lifetime. So I’m definitely appreciating what I have and what I’m experiencing.”
Arnold had first met Drescher when she was a guest and sang with her band, Know Pressure, on the former Nanny star’s short-lived talk show and the two bonded over their common Queens, New York roots. Now she’s playing Judi, who in real life is a Jewish redhead. “I got her approval,” says Arnold, whose character is the confidante "Fran relies on and who’ll tell Fran the truth. She’s the friend that you’ll tell everything to and won’t judge you. She’s an out of work singer, so you’ll hear me singing. And she’s definitely looking for a man. It’s been hard for her to find love.”
It’s on that point where Arnold and her character diverge: a divorcée herself, she’s happily engaged to Rico Hines, and is sporting a ring of her own design. “My goal is not to make the same mistakes twice,” she says of marriage, and believes the key is “being friends. A friend is someone who loves you unconditionally. Rico and I have earned each other’s friendship so the only thing left to do is take it a step further,” she says, but they haven’t set a date.
Arnold is the mother of a daughter, Alijah Kai, “7 going on 75,” and says that juggling career and single motherhood “is a balancing act. Every day teaches me a new lesson,” she says, noting that she’s active on the national advisory board for the PTA. “I’m a children’s advocate and do a lot of different charities for children.” But as busy as she is, she finds time to perform with her band and is working on an album with producer Rufus Black, whom she met through Missy Elliott. The style is “a little bit of everything,” says Arnold, who’ll perform at the Game Sports Bar in L.A. “every other Thursday for the next month.”
(Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images)