American actress and comedienne Tichina Arnold is set to become a household name with her debut on Mzansi Magic Lockdown Season Three, in a role that was specially written for her. Filming is underway.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for a long time. In the States we don’t get a lot of roles that are written for black women, so here I am finally being able to play and portray a role that has been written for me. I appreciate all the creativity that’s been put into this role and into Lockdown.”
Tichina found out about her role through a business associate, Barb Phillips, who introduced her to the founder and producer of Black Brain Productions, Mandla N.
“I spoke to Mandla and after hearing how passionate he was about Lockdown and this project, I was all in. This has been an opportunity of a lifetime.
"I have been waiting for a very long time and now it’s here and so I’m happy that Barb was the conduit for that. Now I have a good relationship with Mandla and hopefully it’s going to be so for many years to come.”
Arnold’s name has always been synonymous with satire from the biggest comedy shows like Martin to Everybody Hates Chris. She recently starred in Survivor's Remorse.
“I loved all the characters I’ve played. But if I have to choose one close to my heart, I would have to say Rochelle, because it was the first time that I played a mother and a matriarch.
“It was a lot of hard work and challenges. I thought it was great.
“Another one I’ve loved is the character of Lena Baker and this was based on a true story.
“Lena Baker was the first black woman to be executed in the state of Georgia, and for me to be able to portray her life I pray that I did her justice, but it was set in the 1940s and 1950s, so it was very challenging for me. But I think it went pretty good. So it was one of my favourites.”
In the Mzansi Magic film she is Paulette - an American woman who gets put behind bars in a South African prison.
“What I love about the character is that she is American. It is an easier way of slipping into my South African career by doing work where I don’t have to worry about doing an accent; which I think helps. By the time I finish Lockdown I’m going to be able to do other characters with accents.
“To be able to play a character that comes in with an already existing show with amazing actors, to be able to be a part of that, I think is a wonderful thing and I’m looking forward to it. I’m welcoming it with open arms”.
Arnold has been in the industry for 37 years and says she survived because of the support she gets from her great friendships and connections.
“This industry is cut throat, so it helps if you have a lot of people who help each other.
I have great friendships and connections, which is one of the reasons I’m here, and I can continue my story and my career, and I can continue, not by reinventing myself but by continuing to just be myself.”
The Sunday Independent