Tisha Campbell may be Gina to many people, but for a smaller group of fans, she is Janet “Jay” Kyle from My Wife & Kids. She starred opposite Damon Wayans for five seasons. The pair had an undeniable chemistry that rivaled her chemistry with Martin Lawrence. Campbell has revealed over the years that she was not Wayans first choice for the role, with him even slamming the door during her audition.
Tisha Campbell and her best friend Tichina Arnold have played along side each other a lot over the years. Many may not realize this, but the two have also competed for the same roles. When Damon Wayans began looking for a comedic actress to play his TV wife on “My Wife & Kids”, he was not too sure he could see Campbell doing it, but Arnold was allowed to audition for the role.
Tisha Campbell recalls a casting director telling her that while Wayans was a fan, even calling her family, he could not see himself acting playing opposite of “Gina” for five years as his wife. Luckily Tichina Arnold was already auditioning for the role and sent her BFF the script to get familiar with the role. When Arnold got her call back, Campbell was right by her side, determined to get her shot at the role.
When she finally got there, Damon Wayans was so caught off guard that he slammed the audition door, later confessing to her that he said, “what the hell is Tisha Campbell doing here!” Tisha would go on to blow the audition out the water, scoring the leading role.
Those familiar with Tisha and Tichina’s history will recall they got their debut roles together in the 1980’s dark comedy musical “Little Shop of Horrors” before going on to star in “Martin.” They’ve made guest appearances in each other’s shows, including “Everybody Hates Chris,” before going on to do a number of hosting gigs together like the Soul Train Awards. Back in April, it was announced the duo had plans to launch a talk show called “Tisha and Tichina Got Issues”.
“My Wife & Kids” ran for five seasons on ABC. At the time, it was the longest-running African-American sitcom of the early 2000s. The final episode, which was directed by Campbell, revolved around the family gearing up for a 4th child after some mishaps where both Kyle and Jay struggled to get preventative procedures done. Unfortunately, the show was canceled that same day due to falling ratings. Their Tuesday time slot put them in competition with American Idol, which was a rating juggernaut at the time. The cancellation was a shock to the cast, who had all believed they were being renewed for a 6th season.