“The Soul Man,” TV Land’s new sitcom airing Wednesdays at 10 p.m., features an all-Black cast that is thrilled to be working together. They recently participated in a teleconference with media outlets from all over the United States to discuss the new show.
The cast includes Cedric the Entertainer, who also serves as executive producer of the show; Niecy Nash (“Reno 911,” “Clean House”); John Beasley (“Everwood”); Wesley Jonathan (“What I Like About You”); and Jazz Raycole (“My Wife and Kids”).
Director Stan Lathan, who has worked extensively with Russell Simmons, is known for breaking the mold and expanding the business model for Black comedy on cable TV. Executive producer Eric Rhone, a gifted businessman and longtime manager for Cedric the Entertainer, is also known for “Johnson Family Vacation,” “Code Name: The Cleaner” and “The Honeymooners.”
“The Soul Man” revolves around R&B superstar-turned-minister Boyce “The Voice” Ballentine (Cedric), who while living the high life in Las Vegas at the top of the music charts gets the calling to go from soul singer to soul saver. He relocates to St. Louis with his wife, Lolli (Nash), and his daughter, Lyric (Raycole), to take over the preaching duties in the church previously headed by his father, Barton (Beasley). His family is not exactly eager to give up the fabulous superstar lifestyle for a humbler one. Stamps (Jonathan), Boyce’s freeloading younger brother, rounds out the ensemble.
When the cast members were asked to speak about their experiences on the show, all were very excited and eager to be working on a sitcom that has not only an all-Black cast, but a Black director and producer.
“One of the things about this show that makes me the most proud is that it is something children can watch with their families,” Nash said. “I am also very happy to be part of the rebirth of an all-Black cast.”
The cast members were also thrilled to be working with Cedric; almost every one of them mentioned him when asked what it was like to be a part of this cast.
“I love coming to work every day, I know it seems impossible to say this, but it’s true for me. Plus, it is an incredible opportunity to work with the King of Comedy,” Jonathan said.
The show strives to portray Blacks as positive people, one of the director’s top priorities while directing the show. “This is not only a funny concept but a positive concept. I believe that not a lot of African-American comedies are always positive,” Lathan said. “I took this opportunity up because I believed that I can change the idea that all-Black comedies are negative.”
During the question-and-answer portion of the teleconference, the AmNews asked, “Do you plan to incorporate serious issues into your show even though it’s a sitcom?”
Cedric immediately answered, saying, “Definitely. We are touching upon these issues and approaching the subject matter in the show. We do it in a comedic way, but we are not afraid of approaching taboo subject matters, especially among African-Americans.”
The show is clearly a sitcom, but it has underlying messages that those who watch can relate to. It shows how hard it is to adjust to a new situation, especially when it just falls into your lap. Tune in to TV Land to watch.