In the 1970s, Garcelle Beauvais was a little girl in Haiti whose greatest pleasure was putting on shows for her family. Flash forward thirty years, and she's one of the most recognizable women on American television. The star of TNT's Franklin & Bash, who makes a guest appearance on tonight's episode of TV Land's The Exes, talks to us about her improbable journey from St. Marc to Hollywood, dishes on her co-stars and opens up about the very public end to her marriage to talent agent Mike Nilon.
Start by telling us a little about your character in The Exes.
I get to play Donald Faison's love interest. He's a player, a womanizer, and he ends up falling for me. I turn the tables on him, and I get to hold all the cards.
Not a bad day's work.
I know! I had never worked with Donald but I've known him for years. He definitely exceeded my expectations.
We recently talked to Boris Kodjoe, who you're close friends with and recently guest starred as your love interest on Franklin & Bash. What's it like making out with your friends?
It's a little weird. I'm like, that's Nicole [Ari Parker]'s husband! We would just crack up all the time, every time we kissed we would start cracking up.
Is it easier with strangers?
No, it can be totally awkward. If [your co-star] is somebody you don't know at all, you have to have that conversation, like, "Listen, I don't want to do tongue and all that." Sometimes you're having that conversation and you're just wearing pasties.
The Exes is about three divorced men who live together and spend a lot of time with their single, female landlord. If you had to pick three of your male co-stars to live with, who would they be?
I'd live with Jamie Foxx, but just not at night because I'm sure he'd be partying all night. I'd live with Boris Kodjoe because I think Nicole would be around a lot and she's a really good cook. And I'd totally live with Will Smith, definitely Will Smith, because of all the perks. Chefs, trainers, all that. That would be a good group.
You have some personal experiences with exes, one in particular that became very public. Looking back, do you have any regrets sending that infamous e-mail blast to your ex-husband's colleagues exposing his affair?
My only regret about that is that it was leaked to the press. That wasn't the intention. It was a time I was really hurt and emotional and shocked, so it was coming from that place. But now I'm a different woman. And I'm actually grateful for all the experiences I've had in my life. It's part of my journey.
Was there any part of you that got some satisfaction from it?
It's amazing how many people come up to me, people I don't even know, and say "I'm so proud of you for doing that." I'm like, well, it was what it was! It was a horrible thing to go through, but everything happens for a reason. Like everybody else, I'm a work in progress.
You've had an incredible journey from growing up in Haiti to becoming one of the most recognizable women on television. Can you describe what that feels like?
Coming from Haiti, growing up the way I did, I'm doing things now I never dreamt I would be able to do. Being on television was out of the question. I didn't know you could do that for a living! My siblings, who used to tease me all the time, look at me now and say "Okay, I didn't know it would turn out like this!" So that's fun.
It's sad that so many kids in Haiti today will never have the same opportunities as you. Sean Penn recently lashed out at the media for "forgetting" about Haiti after the earthquake. Do you feel the same?
I kind of share Sean's sentiment, but it's human nature. People move on with their lives, and it's our job to refocus people's attention again. There are people still living in tents. There was so much money that was raised, but there doesn't seem to have been a big improvement there. The fact that almost two years later people are still living in tents, that's really discouraging. But we need to keep working on it.
Don't forget to catch Garcelle Beauvais onThe Exes, tonight at 10:30 P.M. on TV Land.
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(Photo: Jesse Grant/Getty Images)