‘Let’s Stay Together’ Star Nadine Ellis On New Sitcom: ‘Black is back in the comedy world’
It’s official: the black adult sitcom is back. Tuesday January 11th The Game returns to the airwaves on its new television home at BET, and immediately following the cult hit is the premiere of the new series, Let’s Stay Together which airs at 11pm/10pm central.
Executive produced by Queen Latifah, the show takes a fun and comedic look at two couples and one single woman living in Atlanta trying to balance their love and life admist their professional pursuits. VIBE spoke to Let’s Stay Together star and former founding Pussycat Doll member Nadine Ellis about her character and what viewers can expect from the new series.—Ronke Idowu Reeves
VIBE: Critics are describing Let’s Stay Together as a black Mad About You, is that about right?
Nadine Ellis: I think it is like a black Mad About You in the sense that it is relationship based, so that’s an accurate description. There is also a feeling when watching that show in relation to ours that it makes you, the viewer, feel like you are like a friend being invited over for a glass of wine, and you just happened to see everything that happens in these characters’ days.
Tell us about the character you play and the premise of the series.
My character Stacy is a pediatrician; she’s driven, just opened up her practice and just bought her first home. She decides to get a few rooms remodeled and she meets this contractor and the character Charles Whitmore [played by Bert Belasco] walks in, who completely sweeps her off her feet. He’s the opposite of every man she’s ever dated. He has the spirit of a five year old but the body and fabulousness of a man and she’s completely bowled over. And so the show picks up six months into our engagement. And you get to see everything they deal with in being a new couple. All the things you find out when you decide you want to spend the rest of your life with someone; all the problems, all the amazing things, and we learn about their families. Basically it’s the story two couples and one crazy single girl, five young adults in Atlanta, living their lives trying to figure out where they go next in life.
You’re a founding member of the Pussycat Dolls, but yet your character Stacy can’t dance on Let’s Stay Together, that’s kinda funny.
Yes, [laughs] it’s very funny that my character can’t dance. There’s one episode where my character’s sister teaches me how to lap dance, to help me keep my man. And it’s hilarious because once they said, ‘action’ I became this awkward-completely-unable-to-control-my-body woman. And then they would say, ‘cut’ and then the girls would do a move and turn to me and ask, ‘Nadine, is this right?’ It was really hilarious—the dichotomy of what was happening, because dancing is one of my strengths. That was a challenge for me. My whole life I’ve been controlling my body and then it became, ‘How do I lose control?’
When were you apart of the Pussycat Dolls and why did you leave?
I was a member of the PCD from 1999 to 2003, way before it became the pop group, singing group and the record label came into it. I did it back when it was a stage show at the Viper Room. They had been going for about three years before I came into it and then I was in it for five years. They named me and the women I performed with the the six originals, and we went on and performed. But it was a constantly changing cast of women. The show probably had about 15 women in it all together. Once I heard the record producers were coming into it—I’m not much of a singer— I thought let me bail out of this before I get the boot.
You have a very youthful look, but with your career experience I’d say that would make you around 30 years old or so agewise?
My character Stacy is in her 30s.
Oh no, I’m talking about you, Nadine, in real life.
As I said, my character Stacy is in her 30s [laughs.]
Okay [laughs] point taken, we’ll say that both you and the character Stacy are both 30-something.
Yes, Stacy is 30s something, but she snags Charles, a 20 something on the show [laughs.]
Queen Latifah is an executive producer of Let’s Stay Together, was she more hands on with the production or hands off?
She was mostly offset but the feeling was good. We were constantly being told they [Flavor Unit Entertainment] were excited about the series and it was very palpable on set. We were told we this show was going to be given a go, and it was going to be the next big thing.
With The Game’s return, Let’s Stay Together and other new black scripted series that will be premiering soon on TV One and VH1 it seems black sitcoms are enjoying a resurgence we haven’t seen since the late nineties and early 2000s.
I am excited as a TV watcher myself at the return of black television and for all the viewers who love black comedy as a whole. Over the last few years once we lost Girlfriends and then The Game, which is now our lead-in show, what was left on the air was the black family comedy. So we really lost the adult world and perspective and we didn’t get to see romance. We didn’t get to see the ‘parents’ of the child and all the things that go along with that. It’s is a nice return to situation comedy for the black TV world. Black is back on the radar in the comedy world.