Niecy Nash: "Brown Girls Have to Play the Sidepiece, I'm Happy to Be the Rib Tip"

The Soul Man star on the best thing about the third season of her hit TV Land sitcom and what real questions ladies should ask when chosing a life partner.

Posted: 03/25/2014 10:30 AM EDT

Actress Niecy Nash continues to be a refreshing splash of honest entertaining truth, especially when she's serving up laughs as Lolli Ballentine opposite Cedric the Entertainer on TV Land’sThe Soul Man. Nash, who returns for her third season as the cheeky preacher’s wife, dished to BET.com about the sitcom’s upcoming live episode this week, what she loves most about The Soul Man, and of course, real life questions women should consider when choosing a lifelong mate.

The new season of The Soul Man kicks off this week. What are you looking most forward to in Season 3?
Season 3 is very exciting and this go around we actually are going to have a live episode. I think it’s going to be so much fun. One of my good girlfriends is going to be apart of the live episode — Brandy Norwood. She has a very funny part that she’ll be playing with us. Also, my TV husband [Cedric the Entertainer] never knows his lines [laughs] so I’m excited to see what’s going to happen there! If the wheels fall off it for any reason it is still going to be entertaining, that’s what I know for sure. 

It sounds like it’s going to be great fun and hilarious as well. What do you still enjoy the most about portraying Lolli on the series?
The thing that I’m happiest about is in this climate where you have so many negative images in television, I continue to play half of a happily married couple. When Cedric first asked me to play his wife on the show, I asked him, “Are we happily married? Because I don’t want to be a mean wife or argumentative with the man. I want to be in love.” And he was like, “Yes!” Then I said, “I’m in!” So I’m excited that we get to be that sort of Black couple in love on television, that we get to be the picture of that. A lot of the brown girls have to play the sidepiece these days, so I’m happy to be the rib tip!

How does being happily married in real life influence playing that type of couple on TV?
For me, I feel like it grounds my character and makes her a lot more realistic. I do talk to Cedric in the same vernacular that I use at home. In the script, if they have me calling him "Boyce," I may call him "Babe" or I may call him another pet name. I’m just very tender in the way I speak with him and that makes my character a lot more realistic because it’s grounded in my own truth.

What has been your personal secret formula for being happily married with children in Hollywood of all places?
My two cents on the matter would be to choose well. When you make a decision about a life partner from a place of brokenness, from a place where you’re not whole or for any random reason, the chances of it surviving are not high. But when you choose well, you chose someone whom you want the same things out of life with. And truth be told, we’re not picking a partner who we just want to have fun with. Because if you’ve got money in the bank and somebody is breaking your back in the bedroom — it’s a party. But you’re choosing who do I want to be in the trenches with? Who do I want standing to my left or right when my back is against the wall? That’s what we’ve got to be looking for.

Fans now also get to enjoy you in your second series, the dark HBO dramedy Getting On, where you portray a nurse. Audiences have never seen you like that before.
I’ve never seen me like that before [laughs]! I usually don’t get called to do that sort of work. It’s a delicious gift that I get to go over there and play someone like Didi Ortley, who is so different from Lolli, and then still come back over here. The Soul Man is what I called my glamorous job, because I have hair and eyelashes and makeup. But over there on Getting On, they take everything, including your Spanx, and put you in the worst light that God has ever created. It’s very raw — it’s just stand there and be something. The [shows] are two very different things, but I love the fact that I can play characters that are so far from each other. It definitely does something for me; creatively it feeds the beast.

The live season premiere of The Soul Man airs Wednesday, March 26 on TV Land.

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 (Photo: Imeh Akpanudosen/Getty Images)

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