Essence Atkins is excited to become part of the family sitcom renaissance.
Essence, who got married six months ago, can’t stop gushing about her latest TV project, "Are We There Yet?" She plays newlywed Suzanne Kingston, and she’s making the role her own.
"I really tried to capture the essence of Suzanne and where she’s at in her life," Essence said of the role, once portrayed by Nia Long. "I don’t think it would do her or myself any justice to try to copy her."
Interestingly, the series picks up about six months into their marriage, so the timing syncs up with Essence’s own relationship. "It’s kind of art imitating life," she said.
Things on set are definitely still in the honeymoon stage. The actress told S2S that only 10 episodes have been taped so far, and she couldn’t be more in love with her cast.
According to Essence we’ll get to see a whole new side of Terry Crews, who plays Nick Persons.
"I think he’s incredibly endearing and charming," Essence said of her co-star. "He’s funnier and nerdier than I think anybody would imagine. He’s a big nerd, a big kid."
Ice Cube, who originally portrayed Nick in Are We There Yet?, is taking on a more supervisory role this time around. He will, however, make appearances as Suzanne’s brother.
Viewers will also recognize Telma Hopkins of "Half & Half" when she pops playing Nick’s mom. And watch out for Keesha Sharp (aka Monica from "Girlfriends") will also take up the role of Suzanne’s best friend, Gigi.
But Essence is especially taken with her on-screen kids. She’s so impressed with their demeanor they "make my ovaries ache." In her opinion, the child actors play their roles very true-to-age, which she thinks is becoming a rare sight.
"These kids are really pure, and it’s really nice to see. It’s refreshing in fact." she said. "It’s not ‘Gossip Girl.’ This is an 11-year old and a 14-year old and you go, "Yeah, that’s right. That’s an 11-year old and a 14-year old.’"
Essence feels that show producers have put together a cast, and created a story, that really serves to fill a gap in the current TV landscape.
"For the first time, in a long time, this is a show that you can watch with your family," she said. "There are shows for kids and there are shows for adults, but there aren’t a whole lot of shows families."
Make sure you and the kids pull up a seat for the return of the family sitcom when "Are We There Yet?" premieres June 2 at 9 p.m. EST on TBS.
— Sonya Eskridge