Tisha Campbell-Martin talks about her return in Lifetime's 'The Protector'

The-Protector

Image Credit: Danny Feld/Lifetime Television

Tisha Campbell-Martin knows that casual TV watchers remember her from her many roles on half-hour comedies — perhaps, most notably, her role as the wife of Damon Wayans on My Wife and Kids, a character she played for five years.

But tonight, Campbell-Martin joins Ally Walker (Sons of Anarchy) in The Protector, a new Lifetime series that follows a detective team.

ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: What can you tell me about the The Protector?
TISHA CAMPBELL-MARTIN: For one, Ally Walker is amazing to work with. She’s been doing Sons of Anarchy and Profiler but now she’s back with this. For me, it’s been a while. I started out doing drama, and it’s been a while since I’ve done this medium. As a matter of fact, my husband and I had agreed for many, many years to not do any dramas because of the long hours. It can be 14- to 16-hour days, so now that I’m doing a drama again, the kids are older. It’s amazing to go back to. It’s a dramedy, but it’s great to go back to that, especially being that I was considered a sitcom girl for so long. The Protector is about a detective, Ally Walker’s character, who not only has to protect people at her job as a homicide detective, but she also has children. She’s balancing the two lives and keeping them completely separate at the same time. I play her partner in the homicide division so we get to be badasses, and we get to show the other side of our lives. I think people are gonna relate to it because it’s so much fun. Our chemistry is so wicked.

Tell me about your character. It must’ve taken something special to bring you into the drama fold.
Absolutely. It was the writing. The writing pulled me into this particular piece. For me, I was more able to play somebody different than “the girlfriend” or “the wife” and just to be a single woman who’s dating, witty, smart, and very intelligent.

Was it fun to step out of being, as you said, “the girlfriend/wife” role and be a badass chick?
Yeah! And we had to train for it. We had to go to the police academy and ride with the police officers. And my brother, my real brother, is a lieutenant in the police force. When he found out that I got the role of a detective, he was, like, “Oh, cute.” I was like, “Shut up! You make me sick.” [Laughs] So when he gets into town, he takes me to the shooting range, and it’s kind of fun.

Has he seen it yet?
He has not.

Hopefully he’s going to eat his words.
I’m sure he would tell me all the things that I’m doing wrong, but we have a tech advisor. So I’m gonna surprise him. That’s the opinion that I’m really looking forward to hearing.

I know that there has been a resurgence when it comes to female-led procedurals, like Rizzoli & Isles and Body of Proof. Why do you think that is?
People want it. Women, we do watch a lot of television. It’s economics. It’s a little bit of everything.

Lifetime has paired you up with Army Wives, which is the network’s biggest show. Do you think this show is going to resonate with the same audience?
We’re hoping so. As with Army Wives, this is really a character-driven show. People can say I’m biased cause I work with her, but Ally’s character and the way she deals with her kids, those things are so amazing to me ’cause I was like, “Oh my God, I just did that with my child.”

How much of your training is action training? Is it gonna be a really action-packed series or is it more of one of those lab-type procedurals.
A little bit of both. Like I said, it’s mostly about character. But Ally and I, the other day, we had to flip a guy over and bust him up.

Sounds like a good de-stresser.
Yeah, it is. It’s cool, like boxing for me. I’ve been boxing since I was 18 years old.

You keep busy.
I also started a nonprofit called Colored My Mind, for autism. My firstborn was diagnosed with autism, but we caught it really early. He’s doing great, which is freaking fantastic. But with four other ladies, [Tammy McCrary, Shannon Nash, Donna Hunter and LaDonna Hughley], we also did a documentary called Colored My Mind. Someone in Washington, D.C., saw it and has invited us to speak to Congress. So I go to Congress on June 13 to speak, along with Chaka Khan, who has joined us in the fight.

Lots of excitement going on.
Yeah. I’m just really excited to be able to do a different role than what people are used to seeing me in the last 20 years — oh my God, when I say stuff like that, it really is mind-boggling. I’ve been in the business since I was 3, and I’m coming up on my 40th year, or, as my husband puts it, my fourth decade in the business. I’m like, “Oh my God, when you put it that way, I wanna punch you.”

And now you have the training to do so!
Exactly — he better watch out.

(Maggie Pehanick contributed to this report)

Comments (21 total) Add your comment
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  • HD

    You gotta give it up to Tisha for being in the game so long. I remember her from Little Shop of Horrors, to Rag to Riches to Martin. Good for her! These shows aren’t my thing but I’m glad to see her still around and looking great.

    • sp

      Yes, I remembered her from television’s Rag to Riches & the member of the female dowop group in LIttle Shop of Horrors. I am proud of her , especially the hell she went through with Martin Lawrence.

      • Dee Jones

        What really happened with her and Martin I wonder. I never fully understood that whole situation.

  • Chris

    Watermelon head is back!

    • Martin

      It’s “Apple Head”! Don’t get it twisted.

  • President Dave

    I’ve been watching her since I was a kid yet it wasn’t until Martin I noticed how huge her head was. She had to chemistry with Martin but on My wife and kids, her and Damon Wayans were too funny together.

  • Lisa

    Loved her in Boomerang as the neighbor and in HouseParty. I felt sorry for her in School Daze. Her boyfriend tricked her into doing that then dumped her. So sad.

  • TVDIVA

    I remember Tisha for her acting and her singing. She has an incredible voice. I hope she can do both in the near future.

    • Chris

      A role on Glee would be nice.

  • Daryl Stovall

    Y’know, Chris, there’s an art to trollin’. Try not to be so obvious, eh? Carry on.

  • jerry

    I think Tisha’s most notable role was as Gina on Martin. I will 4ever think of Martin, Gina, Tommy, and Pam as the funniest, most original group of “Friends” on sitcom tv.

    • jerry

      Oops, I forgot Cole and the never seen Big Shirley.

  • John

    Dang, is that really her? She used to be so hot

    • Daryl Stovall

      Yep, age and motherhood has been an unkind mistress to ol’ Tisha. (Not that she was all that hot to begin with.) Trust, in School Daze, you take away that weave and the make up, Tisha (on the universal scale of 1 to 10) would rate a generous 5, and that’s only after a few healthy swigs of Jack Daniels.

      • Realangst

        You know, Daryl, I could care less what you think until you start pointing fingers and then turn around and do exactly what you accused Chris of doing. Chris made a valid point to suggest that a good singer do a guest spot on a musical show like “GLEE”. But your near desperate comment about the talented Miss Tisha was totally off base. I wish you well in your quest to degrade others while being just like the ones you strike out at. It’s what makes America great. You get to choose in this country. Be the side Tracy Morgan that spews venom or the thoughtful Chris Rock, who after review has thought better of his support for Mr. Morgan. Ain’t America great?

  • Lincoln

    The interviewer was so unenthusiastic. Worst interviewer ever. He or she seemed sarcastic and uninterested.

  • Dee Jones

    She and Tichina have great voices, especially Tichina, that girl SANNNNNG! I hope one day she gets to do a musical on broadway.

    • Chris

      You should check out the “Don’t Ask My Neighbor” duet that she did with Tichina. It’s on Youtube. Amazing!

  • Daryl Stovall

    @ Realangst

    Duly noted, but what can I say? My hypocrisy knows no bounds. LOL!

  • gigi

    I love Tisha Campbell-Martin. Love her as a comedic actress and can’t wait to see her in a dramatic role. I’m also glad to hear she and Duane Martin are still going strong. Such a cute couple!

  • Miss B

    Tisha,is the Miss USA over acting heavy weight actor of the year!!!! Don’t get me wrong,I have nothing against her,I just feel she go to for…

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