‘For Better or Worse’ Star Cocoa Brown Talks New Comedy Pilot, Working With Tyler Perry

Cocoa BrownWhen ‘For Better Or Worse’ debuted a few weeks ago, it was easy to dismiss it as “just another one of Tyler Perry’s sitcoms.” But the show has proved to be a more serious effort from the mega director with heavier subject matter and an incredible cast of black characters–such as Jennifer, the funny, good humored friend played by Cocoa Brown.

BlackActors.net caught up with the actress to discuss the show, her upcoming projects, and Herman Cain’s “hoes.”

How has your experience been on the show so far?

It’s been great! We shot the episodes back in June and it was an awesome experience. Everyone had the same goal to make the show a success, and it was like a family. Now with the show being on, and the [high] ratings; I’m glad people are really enjoying the show.

Tell me about your role on the show.

My character is Jennifer. A woman who is a single mother, who works in a salon with Tasha Smith’s character Angela. And she and I are childhood friends who knew each other for many, many years. We grew up together and we’re really good friends. Basically, I’m her ride or die chick. I’m the chick that knew you before you had the money. I knew you before you married the ball player– when you were struggling just like me. And technically, Jennifer is the comic relief of the show.

How did you land the role?

It was so crazy! I had just changed agents and a casting breakdown came through on the internet, and I saw it a few times but never got a chance to audition for it. My agent was able to make a phone call because he knew someone there at Tyler Perry Studios, and he got me an audition while I was in Atlanta performing in a comedy club. I went in and the audition went really, really great and found out a couple of months later that I got the role.

You film the show in Atlanta as opposed to LA or New York. How was that for you?

I actually liked it. It was almost like a mini-vacation. Just getting out of the hustle and bustle of LA, and being somewhere with a different vibe. Going to the set everyday was great. It was like being at home.

Describe a typical day of filming at Tyler Perry studios.

Cocoa Brown in 'For Better or Worse'

TBS

According to Hollywood standards, Mr. Perry is unconventional in the way he films. Some shows or sitcoms have you work a whole week on one episode. Mr. Perry shoots an entire episode in one day. We come in at 7 o’clock in the morning, we do hair and make-up, rehearsal, and then we’re on set from 1 o’clock to 6 o’clock shooting the episode. Everything is very fast paced, but I enjoyed it because it challenged me so much to have to learn an entire script every day. It made me realize that I was born to do this. It became like breathing and I knew what I had to do by going into character every day, knowing my lines and knowing what I had to do. And the good thing is that Mr. Perry gives you so much freedom with your character to make them your own.

Do you improvise at all or is it strictly by the script?

Absolutely! The good thing is that you don’t have to be married to the script. He [Tyler Perry] wants you as natural as possible. If there are lines or gestures, or something that you want to interject to make the character as believable as possible, he welcomes that. He definitely allows you to make the character your own in order to be as real and believable as possible.

There’s some backlash from viewers over the lack of a laugh track on the show. Being a comedian, is it difficult for you to deliver funny lines with little to no response?

You know, the thing is I knew my character and I knew what her job was; Jennifer is the comic relief. Everyday I went to set, I had to get in that mode and I knew my [comedic] timing had to be on point. Whether I had a studio audience or just the boom mic guy laughing, I knew I had to do that because it would resonate on screen. I know it’s an adjustment for a lot of people who are used to Mr. Perry’s sitcoms with the laugh track because sometimes people have to be told when to laugh. We want to laugh but if no one else is laughing it’s like being in a comedy club; if a comic says something that you think is funny and no one else laughs, you might not laugh either. It’s kind of a domino effect. But I know what Mr. Perry is going after. He’s going for dramedy, so there is drama and comedy. And he relies on me and Brad James because we are the comic relief to lighten up the mood of the drama. And I feel he doesn’t want to dictate to the audience when to laugh, so he’s putting it on us to make sure they do. So, I welcome the pressure to make people laugh in their living rooms whether there is a laugh track or not.

How much of your character on the show is really you?Cocoa Brown

[Laughs] If you let my friends tell it, it’s all me. They will say she is not acting! You know, I can be very passionate. A ride or die friend that will have your back to the end, and I can also say things to lighten the mood to crack you up without trying. I think Jennifer is a lot like me, outside of me not being a single mother. She’s the type of person that wants everybody to be happy and handle their business and get theirs. And if she feels someone is being picked on or not getting their just do, she may be the one to throw a blow. She’s ride or die!

How do you see your character developing on the show?

God willing, the show gets picked up [for future seasons] and we get to keep the show on for a very long time. I’d ask Mr. Perry for one thing–that I get a man and it’s either Michael Ealy or Idris Elba. That’s all I’m sayin’! Like, can I get a man too? [Laughs]

Why should people watch ‘For Better or Worse?’

Because it shows a dynamic of black relationships that’s not out there right now. They’re either happily married and gushy gushy, or they’re looking for a man and going through the trials and tribulations of relationships where they’re single and bitter. To find a show that shows couples married or engaged that shows the realness of that. Showing it naked. Just showing that relationships have their ups and downs, and how black people deal with it. It’s not candy coating anything. It’s showing you black relationships and all of it’s rhythm.

I heard you’re working on a new show with Cedric The Entertainer.

We just shot the pilot last week. It’s directed by Stan Lathan. He’s an incredible director. He is one of the creators of Def Comedy Jam. The show is a spin-off of Cedric’s character on TV Land’s “Hot in Cleveland.” He plays a minister. Written by Suzanne Martin, who’s an excellent comedic writer. She actually wrote “Hot In Cleveland” as well. We shot it with Neicy Nash, Wesley Jonathan, and John Beasly. It’s just an incredible, powerful cast. It was the pilot episode and the response was awesome when we did the live taping infront of an audience. I’m very secure that this show is going to get picked up. It’s a great show!

How are you going to manage two shows on two different coasts?

Well, my character on Cedric’s show is a guest star right now. However, there is a possibility of it becoming a recurring role. So, if the show gets picked up…Hey! We’ll cross the bridge when we get to it. But my character is a very fun character. She is that chick in church who is boojhetto [boojie and ghetto]. She definitely is one who is educated and has her stuff together, but she also has a thing for the pastor and she doesn’t hide it.

Lets discuss some hot topics in pop culture. What’s your opinion on Herman Cain?

He’s a joke. Honey, come on! You can’t run for president if you got a string of hoes. Come on, now! Did you learn nothing from Bill Clinton? Did you learn nothing from Clarence Thomas? Come on, people! Come on! If you got dirt in the closet don’t run for public office.

Plastic surgery?

I’m all for it. And when I get another check Im going to get my body completely done like Beyonce.

Nene Leaks from “The Real Housewives of Atlanta?”

You know what? Nene is the epitome of new money. She is just enjoying her millions or whatever she’s making. Because she’s “rich,” according to what she says. She’s one of those people who, no matter how much money you give her, she’s still gonna be that dressed up stripper.

Dr. Conrad Murray?

That poor man. You know, it just shows the power of the dollar. He was paid just enough money to give Michael Jackson what he needed regardless of the repercussions of his health, and what could happen. And it just shows us that anyone can be bought in this society. And I feel sorry for him; he’s the most hated person next to Casey Anthony on the planet. This man killed the greatest entertainer of all time. So, even when he gets out of jail, this man is going to have to have heavy security because it’s going to be some crazy Asian person that’s going to kill him. Because you know how they [Asians] love Michael.

You can catch Cocoa Brown on “For Better or Worse,” airing Fridays at 10pm EST on TBS. You can also check out her comedy tour in a city near you by visiting her website CocoaBrown4Life.com, or by following her on twitter at @CocoaBrown22.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Watch Michael Jai White’s Hilarious Response To Our Question, Tyler Perry Jumps In (Video)

Tyler Perry’s ‘For Better or Worse’ Trailer

Black Stars of Television (Fall 2011-12 Season)

Tyler Perry’s New Sitcom ‘For Better or Worse’ Coming to TBS, Ends ‘House of Payne’