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Niecy Nash on 'Soul Man': I Made Sure My Character Wasn't Unhappily Married Black Woman

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Niecy Nash and Cedric the Entertainer
'The Soul Man' stars Niecy Nash and Cedric the Entertainer.
Photo Credit: Getty Images

It’s a big night for comedic actress and author Niecy Nash, whose hit show The Soul Man returns to TV Land for a third season with a live premiere. We honestly don’t know how Nash finds time to balance her many career endeavors along with her responsibilities as a wife to husband Jay Tucker and mother of three, but she gets the job done, with a smile.

The actress, who plays Lolli Ballentine, the vibrant wife of Reverend Boyce 'The Voice' Ballentine (played by Cedric 'The Entertainer,) recently paid ESSENCE a visit to discuss the success she’s achieved both professionally and romantically. Did you know she had a hand in shaping her character’s positive approach to marriage, and Cedric was all for it? And, can you guess what her proudest TV moment is? Let’s catch up with Ms. Nash!

ESSENCE.com: Are you using any of the love methods in your book, It's Hard to Fight Naked, to help shape your character on The Soul Man?
NIECY NASH: Well, what was important to me when Cedric [The Entertainer] first asked me about doing the show—and the first thing that I said—was, “Are these people happily married? Because, if they're not, I pass.” I feel like it's hard to go to work every day and live in this space where you don't like your man and then go home and try to love your man. But in the end you're putting an image out there of an argumentative couple and she says something smart about him and he cracks on her. I said, “I don't want to do that. I'm not interested in doing that. I was like, “Can we love each other? Can we be in love with each other?" And he said absolutely. And then I was like, “I'm in.”…I said, I don't feel like talking down to a Black man on TV. I don't feel like doing it. I just don't want that. I want to, you know, just love you real good. I talk to him on camera in some of the vernacular that I use on my husband—I’m tender with him the same way I am with my husband. There is still a loving way to tell your man to knock it off. I don't do that with my husband; I don't do that with my TV husband.

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ESSENCE.com: We love your love. You always talk about the importance of picking the right partner.
NASH: Having been married for 16 years to the first husband and three years to the second husband, I think it is simple. We make it complicated in our humanity. I talk about it in my book. I feel like people argue for two reasons: One, because they want to be heard.  And, two, because they want to be agreed with. My husband and I agree to hear each other out and we agree to disagree. That's not an argument, that's a conversation. Then we can go somewhere and sit down. It's a different thing. You know what I mean? I think the wisdom is different from wanting to be right.  When you're applying that, the stuff that irritates you or sweats you, you really got to look at it in a bigger picture. Get your rules straight at the beginning. How are we doing this? What do you want to do? Are you, like, yelling? Oh, don't do that. You work out what you're going to do and how you're going to stay within those guidelines. And then remember that your children are watching. Now, let's go. 

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ESSENCE.com: Speaking of positive Black love. Will we ever see more of your family’s reality show?
NASH: The people who saw it, loved it. And, one thing I will say, even though we only did that one season, as a producer and a mother, it is the one piece of work that I am probably the most proud of because I did not allow someone else to come in and create havoc in my home. I didn't allow cameras or producers to manipulate my family and make us be something sensational and something that we're not. I literally opened my calendar and I said, “These are the things that are happening in our lives. You can film some of it, all of it, none of it, whatever your pleasure. But we don't have to manufacture our lives.” Cause it's full enough, you know what I mean? I love the fact that I did not allow anyone to put their foot on my leg with regards to my family. And so I love that piece of work. But my children are spread out now. My son is off doing his own thing.  I have a daughter in college and the baby is in a singing group now.

Tune in live tonight at 10:30pm EST for the season three premiere of The Soul Man.

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