With the erratic airing schedule NBC imposed on Community (Halloween in February!) last year, it's unknown when fans will be gifted with new episodes of the show. Thankfully you can get a Yvette Nicole Brown fix on Wednesday's all-new episode of The Soul Man, when the funnylady reprises her role as Robyn, who catches Boyce and Lolli off-guard with both her visit and a very unexpected announcement!
ETonline caught up with Yvette Nicole Brown to talk about returning to The Soul Man, her love of multi-camera comedy and the show's spot-on portrayal of Christianity. Plus, she opens up about Community's recent season five renewal and the unexpected return of show creator Dan Harmon!
ETonline: What excited you about returning to The Soul Man?
Yvette Nicole Brown: It starts with Niecy [Nash] and Cedric [the Entertainer], who are wonderful people, but then you add in all the amazing people who work there -- [producer] Sean Hayes, the crew -- and it's just a great group of people. I've done a lot of multi-camera show in my life, and I've never been more embraced by network execs than I have been by the TV Land group. You can't tell who's the executive, who's the writer, who's the person doing the lights. Everyone is so regular and kind, it's a big family and it's so nice to go there.
ETonline: Plus you get to work in front of a live studio audience with multi-cam.
Brown: I love the feedback from the audience. I love the collaborative spirit when you do a multicam. If a joke doesn't work, everybody puts their heads together to figure out a better way. Everybody is working towards making every line in a show as good as it can be, and I love the idea of that. With single-cam and dramas, once you get the script, that's it. The other thing missing in single camera is there’s no real rehearsal. With multi, it's like you're putting on a play and everybody is in the trenches together. It feels like part of my DNA; whenever I get to work on a multi-camera show, it's like the mothership calling me home.
ETonline: What's Robyn been up to since we last saw her?
Brown: [laughs] Well, I can't give too much away; she's still fighting strong and loving strong with Paul. But they have a new development. I can't say what it is, but this development affects everyone and leads to some shenanigans.
ETonline: As a person of faith, how do you think The Soul Man does at portraying Christianity?
Brown: I think a lot of times Christianity -- or Christ -- gets a bad rap. There are so many Christians pointing fingers, and saying "Don't do this or you'll go to hell." None of that is the part of Christianity that God wanted us to concern ourselves with. Christ just told us to love each other. Also, there are parts of the bible that say if you heal the sick, but do it without love, it matters not at all. So it doesn't matter if you do all this great stuff if you do it with hate in your heart. So, what I love about The Soul Man is they're demonstrating what Christianity is supposed to be. All the judgment and stuff is between God and the person. What I'm supposed to do in my life is love everybody the way God loves them, and I think that's what this show demonstrates. It's a very good example of what a pastor and The Christianity Walk are supposed to be.
ETonline: Congrats on the recent season five renewal for Community. Some people were surprised it was picked up, were you?
Brown: I'm always surprised. I've been surprised every year. I mean, there's still that video from the first year in the makeup trailer. And I know where that comes from; the first show I ever did was on ABC and called Big House; it starred the fabulous Kevin Hart. We got canceled after 6 episodes. It's Pavlovian. By the sixth episode of anything, I'm packing up my trailer and saying my goodbyes [laughs]. I'm so grateful that NBC keeps giving us a shot and Sony keeps fighting for us to come back.
ETonline: And then it was announced Dan Harmon would be returning as showrunner!
Brown: It was like a one-two punch. Dan coming back is precedent-setting. I don't think, in television, there's ever been someone brought back after the production company has let them go. That's monumental. That was a big shock, but a source of real joy -- even more than the show coming back, to some degree. But I want to say this, I'm really grateful to David [Guarascio] and Moses [Port] as well. We wouldn't have gotten a fifth season if they didn't carry us through the fourth. That needs to be said because we're all so excited for Dan's return, but I don't want to poo-poo the men who carried us through the season when we couldn't have Dan.
ETonline: What are you hoping to explore with Shirley this year?
Brown: I would love to meet Shirley's sister. There were a couple of lines about them not having a good relationship in the first season. We've met her kids and her husband, but I'd like to see someone who comes from the same stock as Shirley. Her sister or her mother or her dad are the people who know who Shirley really is at her core, so we'd really get to see how much of this sunny demeanor is who she really is and how much of it is an act that she’s putting on.
ETonline: Dream cast the role -- who should play Shirley's sister?
Brown: There are so many talented women -- Sherri Shepherd, Kim Whitley, Loni Love or Retta could play the mess out of Shirley's sister. Although, if we could get Octavia Spencer to put that Oscar down and play Shirley's sister, I would love it.
The Soul Man airs Wednesdays at 11 p.m. on TV Land.