“We only get one first time at things and I just want to make sure I’m absorbing everything and I’m present in the moment so that I can enjoy it all,” actress Courtney Nichole tells EURweb about landing her dream gig on Tyler Perry’s new comedy series “Assisted Living” on BET.
Starring Na’im Lynn, J. Anthony Brown, Tayler Buck, Alex Henderson, and longtime Tyler Perry collaborators David and Tamela Mann, the series centers on Jeremy, a patriarch of a young family with teenage children, loses his job and decides to move to the backwoods of Georgia to help his crazy grandfather. Grandpa Vinny has foolishly purchased a terribly run-down home for the elderly and he is in way over his head, but comedy ensues as Mr. Brown and Cora show up at the right time as needy investors.
Nichole tells us that she’s serving up a lot of “mama” love as Jeremy’s supportive wife Leah.
“I think any mom can relate to some of the things that I’m going to go through or say to my kids, or try to make sure I bring my family through, which is important. Because I think at the heart of it all, we just want our family to be good. So that’s what I tried to keep at the forefront, is the love,” she said in our exclusive interview.
Check out the rest of our conversation with Courtney Nichole below.
— Tyler Perry’s Assisted Living (@AssistedLiving) September 1, 2020
How does it feel to be going on this journey with this new series by one of our cultural icons, Tyler Perry.
Courtney Nichole: Absolutely a cultural icon. The only word I can come up with is “Amazing.” I’ve been saying that since I booked this. My friends ask me and I’m like, “Amazing”. It’s just a beautiful experience and him, as well as the Tyler Perry studios family have made this just an awesome experience for me. And you know, especially somebody like Tyler Perry, right. You’ve been watching him for years. You’ve seen his plays, you’ve seen his television shows.
What has been speaking to me the most lately is watching him last year on the BET Awards receive the Humanitarian Award and talk about his new relationship and venture that he was about to have with BET, and to be on one of the new shows that he was bringing in that relationship is kind of mind blowing. It’s just amazing, even though we’ve been working for years to get here, but when it happens… I’m just trying to make sure I’m present in the moment. And we only get one first time at things and I just want to make sure I’m absorbing everything and I’m present in the moment so that I can enjoy it all.
Your character Leah is the supportive wife of Jeremy, how would you describe their dynamic?
Courtney Nichole: Well, you know just like with most good kings, you have a good queen, honey. So I’m really glad to be there with him. So yeah, Leah, I call her Mama Leah. She is a supporting wife to her husband. Just a loving parent to her kids, of course, But it is a sitcom and we bring the funny and we bring the real. I mean, teenagers get on your nerves, you know? So my kids don’t fail me in that. We would leave set and I would really look at them as Courtney, not Leah, and be like, You are working somebody’s nerve right now.
And then just to play with J. Anthony Brown as the granddad, that’s amazing. I’m from Chicago. I used to listen to the Tom Joyner morning show in the mornings. So I’ve heard J. Anthony Brown on the radio for years and now he’s with Steve Harvey. So we still love to hear him on the radio, but to be working with him, and then of course the Manns, is just amazing.
So I just try to make sure I bring those good mama moments. We all know what those mamas look look like. We all know those mama tones, right? You learn your mom’s tone. So I just wanted to make sure that I brought all of that. I think we are such an eclectic group of people. And I think any mom can relate to some of the things that I’m going to go through or say to my kids, or try to make sure I bring my family through, which is important. Because I think at the heart of it all, we just want our family to be good. So that’s always what I tried to keep at the forefront, is the love.
Would you say family is the heartbeat of this series?
Courtney Nichole: Family is definitely the heartbeat of this series. You have a multi-generational cast here, you have grandparents, you have the parents and you have children. And we get to talk about so many things. Mr. Perry does not miss a moment. We’ve been watching Madea for years and Madea is always schooling us. So he does not miss a moment to make sure that he put those things into our scripts. We’re going to deal with things, every day real life things. Just like the Cosby show, just the Jeffersons. Just like all of the shows where you can think about family. We definitely have our fair share of things that we’re going to talk about and address. Things that are going to be so relevant and things that are relevant in the time that we’re living in.
And I think that’s what makes it pretty cool too. You see different families, but the family from the ’80s and what they dealt with versus the families now. We always say there’s nothing new under the sun, but sometimes it’s amplified. Because we didn’t have social media back then. So now we have kids with these phones who are locked and glued in. How do you deal with that? We deal with grandpa Vinnie and realize that he’s growing marijuana. And it’s like, okay, well marijuana is legal in more than half of the states. How many grandparents are trying to get this CBD oil to rub out their arthritis and all of that other stuff. So it’s like, really grandma? Really grandpa? Are we really talking about this right now? So I think we’ve touched on some serious notes and I do think we get to be lighthearted and actually have a good time with each other.
Speaking of social media, is it important for you as an actress to read blog recaps and go on Twitter and follow hashtags about the show to see what fans are saying?
Courtney Nichole: Yeah I do, a little bit, and the response has been amazing. After the first week we premiered episodes one and two. It was reported that we had 6.6 million viewers. I just like… My heart right now. It’s like, Oh my goodness! We all worked so hard and you want people to appreciate your work. So when you see that people are enjoying it, especially during this time where so many of us are at home and quarantining and to know that they are enjoying the laughter with us, which is exactly what we wanted when we prayed. Before every taping, we made sure that we prayed and, and even our prayers were that people will receive this because it’s made in love and made with laughter and laughter is good for the soul.
So I’m super excited that so many people are enjoying it and I just try to make sure that I reach out to them, that I “like” their comment. I’ve had people share their stories with me on Instagram. Somebody the other day was like, You can not tell me that Courtney Nichole is not my mama. Those are just the things that we dream of as artists. So I’m just trying to take that all in and receive it.
How would you describe Tyler Perry’s creative energy and the vibe he brings to the set?
Courtney Nichole: Man, he’s a leader through and through. I said this before, but he leads with love. The first day on set… You know, he’s tall. I think he’s 6’6, something like that. So when you see him… I’m 5’4, 5’5, you know what I’m saying? I’m like, you’re a whole foot taller than me. But he is… I say this about my husband, a gentle giant. You look at him and you’re like, Oh my gosh. But as soon as he starts talking to you… He was so good at making sure we were disarmed. Like, Hey, we’re about to come in here and have a good time. So we didn’t have to come with all of our nervous energy.
He allowed us to let that go. He laughed with us. He would be in our ear, giving us even funnier lines. He wrote it and it’s funny, and then you add more lines to make it funnier. It’s amazing. But I guess when you have things in front of you, like any of us, it’s like you’re getting your house together and you’re decorating. You had a plan and then you see something and you put something somewhere else and you get excited and you want to do it. So I feel like that’s what he did. He prayed for us, with us. He led us with love. It’s a family. A couple of days, he even brought his son up there and you got to see that little handsome fella.
You know what I’m saying? So he is instilling in his lineage. He’s making sure his legacy is good. One day, his son was on set with him and he let him yell, “Wra.” He was like, That’s a wrap for today. He told us, Great job. And I was like, Wow, he’s I think five years old, and he’s already leading with the same love that his dad leads.
So I just think he’s a gentle giant. He definitely knows what he wants, but he also, as an artist, allowed us to help create in his world. And I appreciate that. I appreciate him letting me use the colors that I wanted to paint with to help tell a story that he has created. So it was just an amazing experience.
Tyler Perry’s “Assisted Living” airs Wednesdays 9/8c on BET.