While “Everybody Hates Chris” has wrapped production we can still catch it in reruns on Nick at Nite. And Tichina Arnold is giving us the goods on the no-nonsense mama, Rochelle.
As most know by now, “Everybody Hates Chris” was based on Chris Rock’s life. Since he was telling his own story, the comedian wanted to make sure it was done right. That meant that Chris was active part of the production process.
“Chris was definitely hands-on with ‘Everybody Hates Chris,’ which I think is one reason for it’s success,” Tichina told S2S. “Like a lot of the stuff is written on the fly. Like the way that Ali and Chris work? If it doesn’t work they’ll change it right away.”
The comedian was even at Tichina Arnold’s audition for the role of his mother Rochelle, and he had a few helpful wardrobe tips for her. “I didn’t know what to wear or how to dress ‘cause I was like, ‘Okay, I never had to go out for a mother role before,’” Tichina recalled. “After my first audition he’s like, ‘Okay, when you come in next time, lose the cleavage and lose the nails!”
Chris told Tichina that, for him, she was only one of two people who could really do the role of Rochelle justice. His advice nudged her in the right direction for booking the gig. One thing Tichina didn’t need help with was Rochelle’s gift for gab. That’s something she’s always had on lock, according to her family.
“They called me mouth almighty, tongue everlasting,” said Tichina. “I was just always very sociable, always into something. Very busy, talkative.”
Playing somebody’s mama means you’re going to be yelling a lot. Tichina, who just won an NAACP Spirit Award, is singer, so she knew how to holler without hurting her throat.
I yell all the time anyway so you gotta learn how to yell,” she said. “You use your diaphragm. You yell from the belly. Don’t yell from the throat.”
— Sonya Eskridge
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