Last week the Tyler Perry-led sitcom “House of Payne” returned to BET with brand new episodes several years after its original cancellation. The revival brought up questions for everybody, including cast member Keshia Knight Pulliam.
“I was excited, and I feel like we can all share the same sentiment,” Pulliam told MadameNoire. “It was kinda one of those moments like okay, well is everyone else coming back? Because we all wanted to do it together and that was just really important for us and for the fans. The fans wanted to see the whole gang back together. And that was an important piece for me deciding to sign back on and we all are back.”
Although it has been at least eight years since the cast has worked together, Pulliam, who plays Miranda Payne on the series, says reuniting on set wasn’t difficult due to the history she shares with her castmates.
“It’s funny because we worked together for so long and we’re definitely like family. It’s one of those things that no matter how much time has gone by, we pick right back up,” she gushed. “We genuinely like each other, love each other, enjoy each other, respect each other’s work. Especially, when you’re working so hard with Tyler, it’s a great thing when you can enjoy the cast and the crew and just enjoy going to work every day.”
In the reboot, Calvin, played by Lance Gross, and Miranda are trying to navigate their divorce while co-parenting their son, Christian.
“Well, Miranda is Miranda. We’re all a little older because it’s been many years at this point. It’s just the family stuff. We’re navigating the waters of divorce and what that looks like and co-parenting since we have a child,” said Pulliam.
In some ways, divorce can feel like the end, but it also denotes a new beginning. In real life, Pulliam found love in her Pride & Prejudice co-star Brad James following her divorce from former NFL star Ed Hartwell. And in many ways, the actress says post-divorce relationships can be better because experiences, such as divorce, can teach you a lot about yourself.
“I feel like after you have a divorce or after any hard situation that is where you learn and work, growth occurs. Whether it is divorce or whatever it is. And I feel like the big thing is that you become very clear about what you truly desire. You get clear about what you desire and you also get clear about what you will not accept,” said Keshia. “And it’s not from a bad place. It’s from a place like you know what, thank you but no thank you. I deserve better. You can act and move from a loving space that the other person does not have to feel villainized. But it’s like you know what, this just isn’t for me. It’s more of identifying and being very clear, honest, authentic and being true to who you really are. That’s the beauty of it.”
In addition to working as an actress and being a mom, Keshia is also an entrepreneur and one of her focuses is to help other Black women entrepreneurs through the Fearless Fund.
“It is a five-million-dollar venture capital fund that I, Arian Simone, and Ayana Parsons, we are the co-founders and general partners of. It came from us just sitting down and looking at the disparity in terms of investing in that women of color in business need,” the actress explained. “When you look at the VC world, 80% of VC funds are run by white males. That’s just the statistics on it. And as a result, when you look at the investments in the companies that they make investments into, it also reflects that. So literally, .066% of VC goes to Black women. That’s crazy. And it’s not a funding issue. It’s also just another form of systemic racism that exists in this country. You have to have capital in your businesses in order to scale.
“We have gotten so used to having to do it by ourselves and push our own way up. So we decided we wanted to be a part of a solution to the problem. And we had no clue that when we started, we were the first women of color to start a fund specifically to invest in other women of color. Yes, there are other women of color founders and managers but with the specific features that we have, it didn’t exist before us. So we said we need to be here and play in the space and prove this. And we are because what we know is, if the only color you’re seeing is green, then betting on Black Women is a sure thing. It’s just really that’s simple. We didn’t want to wait for someone to do it for us. We are all HBCU grads. Myself from Spellman and the others from FAMU. Businesswomen and just badasses in their own rights.”
As for how women entrepreneurs can get involved with the freedom fund, the actress had this to say:
“Well, there are two things. If you go to our website Fearless Fund, you can see our criteria for investing. We are also launching Get Venture Ready at the top of this year. It addresses just that. It’s a 12-month, year-long program that will teach women how to get venture-ready. It’s the other thing we found as we dove into this space, that a lot of people have no clue what it means. How do you scale? How do you do the evaluation of a business? How do you get your docs in order? All of these things. And there are very specific things that have to be put in place to get people to invest in your business. So that’s why. We’re launching it in January and we’re really excited.”
“House of Payne” airs on BET Wednesdays at 8/7c.