Tichina Arnold Remembers Whitney Houston

"Happily Divorced" star Tichina Arnold dishes on Whitney Houston's death, marriage and single parenting. An edited version of our interview with her follows

by Ilyssa Panitz • More.com Celebrity Reporter
tichina arnold image
Photograph: Courtesy of TV Land

More: While many people are celebrating Black History Month, others are mourning the loss of Whitney Houston. What does it mean to lose someone so iconic during this important time?
Tichina Arnold: Losing Whitney was extremely shocking. It took me a day to pull it together. She was such a sweetheart. Whitney gave so much of herself as a performer. For me, this is a great loss.

More: You talk as if you knew her.
TA: I was around Whitney three times in my life. We even had dinner together after we were introduced by a mutual friend. I was sitting next to her and was shocked at how down to earth, sweet and kind she was. I was thinking, "Wow, she is a regular person!" Whitney was like my home girl. I saw her again in 2003 at a Clive Davis party during the Grammy Awards. As she and Booby Brown were walking through the crowd Whitney spotted me and came right over to where I was standing. Whitney was talking to me for a good seven minutes. I was speechless because Whitney was giving me the most uplifting compliments.

More: What did she say?
TA: She talked about my singing and my talent. I will never forget that as long I live.

More: You also have experience in the fashion industry and have dressed quite a few celebrities. Is there any chance you’ll fire up the sewing machine again?
TA: I love creating things and got into it by accident. I was blinging bandannas and a friend of mine who was working with Justin Timberlake gave him some. From there, Vivica A. Fox and Regina King started to wear them.

More: What’s left on your bucket list?
TA: Doing a show in Vegas and starring on Broadway. I was once this close to getting a role on Broadway. I feel it in my bones, it will happen.

More: Now you star on the hit series Happily Divorced
Tichina Arnold: It is a raw and very funny show.

More: And true to art, you are also divorced. Happily divorced?
TA: I sure am. Actually, I am ecstatically divorced. Girl, I was married one year, eleven months, two days and five seconds. But who’s counting?

More: That answered that question.
TA: I always say women need two chances. We need two just in case we don’t get it right the first time. We deserve a second shot at marriage and getting it right.

More: And now you're an engaged woman.
TA: Yes, I am getting married. I am happily engaged [to Rico Hines] and have been dating my beau for five years.

More: When did he pop the question?
TA: In our fourth year. He was like, “Hey, babe, let’s do it.” I was like, “OK.”

More: Do you feel you’re smarter this time around?
TA: Way smarter. I got married in my twenties and my mindset in my twenties was totally different. As much as I hate to admit it, you are just so stupid during that age. I mean, it was a fun kind of stupid. You make mistakes but hopefully you learn from them. I look at it now and consider that period to be a learning process that I had to go through.

More: What was the biggest mistake you made?
TA: Staying in certain relationships for too long . . . if you can understand that. Trial and error, I always say.

More: You are also a single mom. [Tichina’s daughter Alijah Kai is seven years old.]TA: Now you are talking about something I really didn’t expect. That was a wonderful surprise.

More: So this wasn’t planned?
TA: I was like, “Oh my God! I am going to be 35 years old and pushing a stroller.” But then someone said it best: “You had your career first, accomplished so much and will be ready for the job.”

More: Your response?
TA: “Ya know? You have a good point.” It was then that I started looking at motherhood very differently and stopped freaking out about it.

First Published February 17, 2012

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