Cast of 'Survivor's Remorse' Discuss Show’s Importance, Growth of Characters, Bonding With Fellow Cast Members & More
"I want black women to see that it’s not far fetched, and it actually can happen," says Tichina Arnold.
The third season of Survivor’s Remorse begins tonight (July 24) at 10 p.m. The Starz television show follows the life of basketball star Cam Calloway (Jessie T. Usher) as he enjoys the fruits of his lucrative NBA contract. In addition to following Cam’s life, the show also walks behind the lives of Cam’s mother, Cassie (Tichina Arnold), his sister M-Chuck (Erica Ash), manager and cousin Reggie (RonReaco Lee) and wife, Missy (Teyonah Parris).
While seasons one and two were about Cam and his family adjusting to their newfound fame, and extremely large bank accounts, season three finds Cam and his family settling into their new realities.
Recently, Vibe had the opportunity to sit with the show's cast members for a brief discussion about the upcoming season, their characters, how they bond, and much more.
Vibe: How did you guys form such an incredible bond?
Erica Ash: We have a great casting director, who kind of knew me and found someone who can match my personality. So our relationship does carry over and it was like this from the first day we met each other. So we didn’t have a period of needing to adjust. And I think I actually told him that he actually acts like my real brother. I have two little brothers in real life, and he has a little sister in real life.
We’ve heard that your character has grown a lot.
Jesse T. Usher: Yes, he’s learned a whole lot in a little bit of time. And that’s what happens when stuff changes over night, you have to adjust. And that’s what he’s done. But he’s still at his very core. He’s still the same person. He’s still very loving, very nice, very caring and always willing to give. Now he’s smarter, he’s focused in a way that he wasn’t before hand. He wants to take care of his family—his immediately family first, and then branch out. I like playing that type of person who can learn and grow.
How much of your personal life do you draw from when playing Cam’s Mom?
Tichina Arnold: I think with the character Cassie is that any mother would work hard protecting her children, busting their ass to keep above water. When you finally meet new money, fame, glory and you see your son’s dreams actually playing out, and you see your actual prayers for your children manifesting themselves they are scary. So sometimes you make some decisions that you probably shouldn’t or you act in certain ways that you shouldn’t. She’s the only character that’s not trying to find herself. She knows who she is. But there’s that underlying core where there’s some shit that your mother won’t tell you. Sometimes you’ll never see your mother cry. I asked my daughter the other day if she’s ever seen me cry, she said: "no, I’ve never seen you cry, mom." And my daughter is twelve. So as a parent you naturally have a defense mechanism of protection and you naturally have a mechanism of coping and dealing with life, so I never want to lose that with Cassie. But this season you’re going to see her a little more vulnerable.
For instance, this is my sister [Arnold points to her blood sister, who is sitting next to her]. She has a disease, she was given seven years to live, and she’s a 13-year survivor. So I used that as motivation for Cassie to deal with the issue at hand. So, Cassie, this season goes back to the basics. And she’s also forced to deal with her past. I can’t tell you what happened, but she drops a bomb about something that happened in her past. We get deeper into each character.
You’ve played a lot of Mother characters over the years, which Mother portrays you the most?
Tichina Arnold: I’m closer to Cassie because I get to curse—yay—but on top of that, my daughter is older. When I did Everybody Hates Chris, my daughter was 1-and-a half, so I had to pull from my grandmother, my aunt and my mother, the matriarchs that raised me. But I am Cassie, I speak my mind, I have no filter. When I play her I try to picture all of the black women out there—and not just black women but I try to speak to the black women’s perspective out there. But I always consider black women watching this.
How is it being in an interracial relationship on the show?
Arnold: I had never had a relationship that was interracial. So me being with Da Chen Bao was the first interracially relationship I’ve ever had on television, so I was kind of excited. So, when O’Malley calls us in and asks us what do we see in our characters. And I said: ‘You know what, I want to expound on my character with Bao, because me being a black woman I haven’t seen many black women adored by billionaires. I want black women to see that it’s not far fetched, and it actually can happen. Yes, this is a show and it’s pretend, but there are billionaires out there that have their own planes and jets. So, I not only want to open doors and bust out windows but I want to represent and I want Cassie to represent our faults, our fears, and our commitments.
Why is this show important?
Mike O’ Malley: I don’t know if it’s important for people to watch, but if you’re interested in stories about how we live now; if you’re interested in stories about character and how people strive to be better; if you’re interested in stories about how humanity gets in the way and often times trips us up; how we make mistakes in our own lives; how we make mistake in relationships; how we make mistakes in what we say; in how we love in the wrong way; criticize in the wrong way; or choose relationships that take us away from happiness; how we strive to have meaning in life; everyday you are reminded that life is absurd, and in life, clearly, know that no one is in charge; that we’ve been placed in a living Hell, yet there’s joy, there’s grace, there’s beauty, there’s music, and athletes are trying to be the best. And, so I think what I find interesting in working on the show is that you’re able to see these people trying to be the best that they can, yet humanity is constantly getting in our way. And I think that’s the purpose of storytelling, right? If you look back at the oldest stories that have lasted from Greek plays there are stories about the gods that have put individuals in circumstances that are just absurd and ridiculous and they have to strive to make the right decisions and there’s drama, laughter, joy, and there’s singing.