In the latest in our ‘Reel It Back’ series, Ambitions star Essence Atkins came by to reminisce about some of her most famous roles on popular television shows like Half & Half, Smart Guy and Marlon.
Atkins called Half & Half “one of my favorite, favorite, favorite shows that I’ve ever done,” citing the show’s focus on “badass” women, and the woman at the helm, Yvette Lee Bowser. Television fans already know of Bowser’s ability to create a great show from her most famous series, Living Single, as well as her work as the showrunner for Dear White People, but Atkins cemented Bowser’s legacy by talking about how fun the Half & Half set actually was. “One of the things that I most remember about being there was that I never wanted to be in my dressing room,” she said. “Even when I wasn’t in the scene, I was always on the floor. I was always watching, watching the creative process because…we had so much fun.”
Smart Guy, which Atkins called her “first…long-term running sitcom,” led her to work alongside Omar Gooding, who became a part of the cast solely due to his quick comedic skill. Atkins said that Gooding was originally hired as a guest star to play Marcus’ (Jason Weaver) best friend, but he was soon bumped up to a recurring role and eventually a series regular. “Omar originally was just a guest star on Smart Guy, and again, kind of an example of how Black excellence and just being super talented can make a way,” she said.
Her most recent show, Marlon, is Atkin’s fifth project with Marlon Wayans, someone she calls “one of my favorite people” as well as someone she would work with “on just about anything.”
Atkins admitted that the show came at a “critical time” for her in her life.
“I had filed for divorce in January of 2016, and three weeks later, I was cast to play [Wayans’] ex-wife on a show that was gonna talk about divorce in a way that was loving and in a way that was funny, but also in a way that was really real” she said. “For both of us it was such an important perspective to talk about and to try and navigate because he’s not with the mother of his children in that way and I’m not with the father of my son,” she continued. “But we believe in creating an environment that’s as peaceful and as loving and as healthy as possible.
Check out the video below:
Ambitions airs Tuesdays on OWN.