Home » Fresh Black Girls, Long Live the Colored Race!, The Black Archives

Fresh Black Girls: Tisha Campbell!

4 September 2008 8 Comments

Tisha Campbell is a perfect example of black entertainers not getting the praise that they deserve. As a veteran in the industry and one of the few triple threat entertainers of any color, Tisha should have an armful of Emmys and Oscars by now. BET and NAACP Awards are great to have, but her talent as a dancer, singer, and actress merits so much more opportunity to shine! While her 1993 debut album Push didn’t do a whole lot on the airwaves, Tisha Cambell can definitely sing, a fact that she showcased at the tender age of fifteen in Little Shop of Horrors and on the sitcom Rags to Riches. Don’t tell me that she can’t dance, because she cuts the meanest rug ever in House Party. Tisha Campbell is unique as an actress because she’s smart enough to not allow herself to be typecast. It would have been so easy for her to have capitalized on her role in School Daze as Jane Toussaint, THE quintessential lightskinned girl of the millenium, but she didn’t. Instead, Tisha Campbell stayed true to her comedic talent. She can be subtle, but if you watch old episodes of Martin or My Wife and Kids and take a moment to focus on how ridiculous she lets herself act and her impeccable comedic timing, her talent is very clear. She’s a born goofball who should be “too pretty” to act like that, which makes her instantly fresh, and I’m not just saying that because she’s married to Duane Martin, who I still have a little crush on from his Out All Night days. One of my favorite things about her is that she is still best friends with Tichina Arnold, another notable fresh blackgirl. Can you imagine hanging out with those two? I couldn’t choose just one Tisha Campbell moment so here are a few:

At Girl Scout camp my friends and I did a dance number to “I Don’t Wanna Be Alone Tonight,” from School Daze but didn’t know nothin’ about not being alone at night. We really thought we were grown, I guess. Note the presence of fellow triple threat Jasmine Guy.

Little Shop of Horrors
is one of my favorite movies ever, and I love seeing young fresh blackgirls Tisha Campbell and Tichina Arnold in this clip, “Skid Row.” The third girl, Michelle Weeks, is now a gospel singer (of course).

I’ve been trying to learn the step routine from the “Stepping Stone” episode of A Different World (if you recall, Tisha also guest-starred as an HIV positive student to teach us all about AIDS in 1991). My next endeavor will have to be this hotfoot dance number from House Party. Work that, Sidney and Sharane!


  • Don said:

    Campbell is definitely a veteran in the game. Besides Regina King, I cannot think of another female actress that has worked her way up the ladder in the way Tisha Campbell has.

  • Lola Gets said:

    “What did she say?
    She said my son I pray someday
    Youll find a way
    to make your natural tendancies pay
    Youll be a dentist!

    I liked that flick as well. I saw that in the theater with two other Black friends back in like 85 or 86, and they found the portrayal of the Black women offensive. I didnt see it, but hey I was young and naieve (sp).

    Now, I was listening to the School Daze sountrack this morning – I love that thing! I have to say though, that dress in the Gamma Ray performance sceen does not look good on her! Shes got a body like mine (well, used to be): shoulders wider than her hips. Those strapless thingys would have looked much better on her.


  • A.S.K. said:

    My mom took me to see a play called “Really Rosie” when I was six. It was starring a (very) young Tisha Campbell. She danced, she sang, she acted. Couldn’t have been more than 7 or 8. I was in awe. My eye kept going back to her cause I was like, damn, that girl could be ME. In new York City! Acting on a stage twice a night! I waited outside the stage door and had her sign my Playbill after the show. I’ve watched her make moves ever since. She’s my very favorite Fresh Black Girl. (And I still have my PlayBill with her autograph…)

  • TalentedTenth said:

    rags to riches was my show. the episode when she wanted to kill herself…i was like “oooooooooo, this girl can act!”

  • determinedtobefit said:

    I have to come out of lurkdom to support Tisha Campbell. I kind of forget about her sometimes but you made me remember the good back in the day times.

    I never knew she was in Really Rosie! That makes me love her all the more since that was one of my favorite book/TV Special/record as a child.

    My little sister and I spent hours prancing around to Little Shop of Horrors (just the singing parts) too. And oh how I loved “Rags To Riches” (cancelled way too soon!).

    Thanks for the memories!

  • B.Rock said:

    I certainly agree with you (and not just because Tisha is a fellow Jersey girl. She was the reason I would tune into Rags to Riches. That was a really good show and she has proven herself time and time again. I think she is the perfect example of Hollywood pigeon holing as she seems to perpetually be playing “Gina” from Martin.

  • Crystal said:

    Thembi, I’m new here, working my way back. You touched a place in my heart with the photo of you in your fly-ass Wonder Woman undergear, but I can’t believe you busted out the School Daze! Talk about taking me back! Maybe you can tell me – how come my college experience never did pan out to include a silver mermaid dress and three fresh blackgirl backup singers? You are fantastic! And Tisha Campbell, Tichina Arnold and Jasmine Guy deserve way more props than they ever get.

  • jazzfan360 said:

    Ooh, don’t even start me. First of all, Tichina got played out at LEAST one Emmy for Everybody Hates Chris, a show the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences has blatantly snubbed simply because it’s on a netlet and nothing from the netlets EVER gets any play at the Emmys.

    I can’t be mad about Jasmine not being around on TV these days ’cause she had a good, long, VERY high-exposure run of it on one of the most-watched shows on television, where she was only supposed to be a supporting foil and ended up running the damn joint. (I was always kind of in awe of how smoothly the production team restructured that show and transitioned Dwayne and Whitley into the leads after Lisa Bonet dropped out.) Also I keep hearing these days she’s got a MAJOR diva complex. She’s still doing theater, though…toured through here recently in a one-woman show about black history or some such. Looked really cool but I was busy that night.

    To be honest, except for the occasional spotlight moment on Martin or whenever I’d watch that (dynamite!) School Daze clip, I never really gave much thought to Tisha Campbell in general. You summed her up very well…never really appreciated her refusal to let herself be typecast. She has not gotten her due, and at this point who knows if she ever will, considering she’s gained weight (the kiss of death for screen actresses) and a lot of black folks still haven’t forgiven her for the Martin scandal. I’m surprised she hasn’t shown up on EHC yet.

So what do you think? Please be respectful to other readers!

Add your comment below, or trackback from your own site. You can also subscribe to these comments via RSS.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

This is a Gravatar-enabled weblog. To get your own globally-recognized-avatar, please register at Gravatar.