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'Madea Goes to Jail:' RonReaco Lee

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Just as sure as Madea is going to jail, RonReaco Lee is a dream guy. The actor with the boyish good looks is back in action in a big way as Derek Luke’s best friend in Tyler Perry’s new release “Madea Goes to Jail,” in between stints of community service and planning the perfect wedding for his hometown sweetheart. Lee first caught our attention as Tia’s boyfriend on “Sister, Sister,” and shares with ESSENCE.com the joy of adding Tyler Perry Studios to his resume, what failure taught him, and how he knew his fiancée was the one.

ESSENCE.COM: You are hilarious and play a pivotal role in “Madea Goes to Jail.” How was it when you got the call informing you you had the role?
RONREACO LEE:
My neighbors must have thought I was crazy because it was a lot of yelling and jumping up and down (laughs). I can’t explain how excited  I was to be a part of it. I had seen all his movies and supported him on opening weekends, so just to be a part of the experience was such a blessing.
A lot of the actors that are in the movie were at the first table read, so I got a chance to meet Derek [Luke] and see Keshia [Knight Pulliam] again. I knew Mr. Perry from a while back when he was still primarily doing stage plays, so it was a reunion.

ESSENCE.COM: And what was  your favorite memories from filming?
LEE:
I had some great scenes with Derek. It’s a nice young cast and we got the chance to come together and do something special. You don’t see a group of young African-Americans playing a group of assistant district attorneys that often, and the district attorney is a Black woman. David Mann has it just like Richard Pryor and Bernie Mac. David is nothing like his character Brown, and he can just jump into it. Tyler Perry does it too with multiple characters, and you see him jump seamlessly from one character to another. I have enough trouble just focusing on my one character. I also enjoyed watching Keshia, whose character had to show a range of colors.

ESSENCE.COM: Congrats on your engagement and upcoming wedding. How did you know it was time to make that move?
LEE:
When I grew and knew we could have the marriage we both wanted. I had a really bad Huxtable complex before. I compared everything to Cliff and Clair. I learned I’m not Cliff and she’s not Clair. We have to define our own ideas of what a family is. We were born in the same little town in Illinois and both moved away, and reconnected four years ago. At dinner last summer she told me she didn’t want to be a woman who gave an ultimatum but wouldn’t date me forever. I understood and I already had the ring. I wanted it done in our hometown and proposed at my grandmother’s during Thanksgiving.  I love to take her out on dates and never want it to get stale. We both know if we keep God first in our marriage, we’ll be alright.

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