Renée Lawless, John Schneider, Tika Sumpter and Palmer Williams

Written by | Ray Cornelius

Recently I caught up with the cast of Tyler Perry’s The Have and the Have Nots  and Love Thy Neighbor. The diverse group of actors was participating in a roundtable interview with Atlanta press. The event was part of a promotional push for the debut of their new shows for the OWN network. As you can imagine, Crystal Fox, Renée Lawless, John Schneider, Tika Sumpter, Palmer Williams, Patrice Lovely and Kendra C. Johnson talked about everything from costumes to scripts to faith and working in Atlanta versus Hollywood. Check out a few photos and highlights from that lively discussion:

 RC with The Have and the Have Nots’  Tika Sumpter, Renée Lawless and Crystal Fox

Crystal Fox on filming the show in her hometown of Atlanta: It’s is wonderful to me. I’ve been in show business for 30 years and you’re always leaving to go here and there. I will admit you can feel a little alienated if you are a Georgian in Hollywood. I’m at home now and comfortable. Hollywood is coming to Atlanta and this is the place to be and love it!

 RC with Tika Sumpter, who plays vixen Candace Young

Tika Sumpter on why playing ‘bad’ feels so good:  It’s fun to play sexy and sultry and not give a damn what people think. My character, Candace is comfortable with her body and who she is.  Yes, she has issues but she loves herself for the most part.  I’m just really excited to play someone different. That’s the life of an actor and I’m super excited about it. I hope my fans enjoy all the crazy that is Candace.

 The Have and the Have Nots’  Crystal Fox, Renée Lawless, John Schneider, and Tika Sumpter

Renée Lawless on her character’s fabulous wardrobe: My character Katheryn Cryer was very blessed to be very wealthy. (LOL) I had some really nice labels (clothing) to choose from and it was lovely. Sometimes the wardrobe stylist would put me in a blouse and I would shake my head, no. (LOL) However, they did give me a little leeway on jewelry and how my character would accessorize. One thing you will notice throughout the season is that Katheryn Cryer always has on a brooch.

 RC with John Schneider, who plays Jim Cryer

 John Schneider on the high expectation of both new shows:  From the minute you read three pages into any one of these episodes on any one of these shows, you’ll read it and say, “I’d like to see that.” I have every confidence that these two shows are both going to be hit out of the park because I know they’re good. Man, I have been around for a long time and I know these are “Neil Simon” type shows and as an actor, you don’t ever have to worry about a “Neil Simon” script.

 RC with Love Thy Neighbors’ Kendra C. Johnson, Palmer Williams and Patrice Lovely

Patrice Lovely on transitioning from stage to screen:  It was very hard for me in the beginning because I’m so accustomed to being on a big ole stage.  Everything always had to be big for the stage because the people in the balcony had to see me. So Tyler (Perry) would say, “Patrice, tone it down for TV!”  I would reply, “OK…HEY!” (LOL) I was still too big. So yes, it was difficult to make that transition but after the second or third day on the set of Love Thy Neighbor, I was there!  I still love theater because it’s such a wide audience and they are going to tell you the truth.

 Kendra C. Johnson plays Linda  and Patrice Lovely stars as Hattie Mae Love in Love Thy Neighbor

Kendra C. Johnson on Tyler Perry choosing her as Linda in Lovey Thy Neighbor: I am an advocate for curvy, full-figured women. I am the currently the empowerment editor for Plus Size Magazine and it’s very important to me because I think we should all feel comfortable in our bodies. One thing I loved when I read the breakdown of my character, Linda is that it said nothing about her body size. That for me as an actor in this industry is very important. It’s very easy to send me to an audition that says, “plus-size, Black girl.” I was the curviest woman I saw at my audition and the fact that Mr. Perry chose me. (PAUSE) The fact that Mr. Perry chose me based on something that had nothing to do with my body size means more to me than what I can express in words. He chose me as an actor.

Tyler Perry’s Love Thy Neighbor  premieres tonight at 9 p.m. and The Have and the Have Nots  airs on Tuesday nights at 9 p.m. EST.

 Photography Credit/Ray Cornelius