The Biggest Lessons The Neighborhood’s Marcel Spears Has Learned From Co-Stars Cedric The Entertainer And Tichina Arnold

Cedric the Entertainer, Marcel Spears and Tichina Arnold on The Neighborhood
(Image credit: CBS)

Season 4 of CBS’ hit comedy The Neighborhood arrived this fall, and the Butler and Johnson families are back for more hilarious hijinks and heartwarming moments. With the show having been on the air for a few years now, the series’ stars seem more than comfortable in their roles. This is true for Marcel Spears, who plays the quirky, intelligent and kind Marty Butler. The up-and-coming actor has relished his time on the show, and he’s especially grateful that he gets to work with Hollywood veterans Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold. With this, Spear opened up about the biggest lessons he’s learned from his two colleagues over the years.

Like many of us, the actor grew up watching sitcoms, and Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold were certainly present on his TV screen. The idea of meeting and working with one’s heroes would be daunting for anyone but, based on Marcel Spears’ comments during our phone interview, he’s become quite close with his castmates. Of course, I couldn’t help but pick his brain about what he’s soaked up from the performers. And as Spears explained, they provided him with something that’s invaluable for any performer:

Oh, man, I don't even know how to quantify that. Because it feels like every few days, I'm learning something new that I immediately incorporate into the way that I do things because it's so… It's getting advice from the people who could only give that advice, because they've lived it, and they've sort of gone through it. I think early on, one of the most impactful things is… I came into this TV show, sort of on the heels of being in a show that I really loved with a cast that I really loved and having that get cancelled so abruptly and sort of feeling like, ‘Oh, man, like, I need to get this right. Like, I need to get this right, because I don't want to be the reason why somebody says the show doesn't work. I don't want to get replaced at the read through... these sort of fears and insecurities that sort of climb into your mind. I think from working with Ced and Tichina, especially Tichina, [it allows] me to trust my instincts, sort of validating my skill and my talents.

The star’s two veteran co-stars originally rose to prominence through sitcoms of the ‘90s. Tichina Arnold became known to many viewers as the vivacious and sharp-tongued Pam Jones in the hit sitcom Martin, over five seasons. Meanwhile, Cedric the Entertainer, who already had a growing career as a comedian, entered the television space in earnest through his role as Cedric Robinson on The Steve Harvey Show, which ran for six seasons. Since then both have gone on to do other high-profile TV shows and films. So it pretty much goes without saying that Marcel Spears is in the presence of comedy royalty and having them instill confidence like that is certainly special.

So you can imagine that any time the Mayor alum is able to make one of them laugh, it’s a true accomplishment. Spears went on to say more about his relationship with his on-screen father, which is a bit warmer than the relationship between their two characters. He also spoke further on the bond he has with his TV mom. As he put it, the two veterans have done a lot when it comes to helping him build his skills as an actor:

It means a lot when Cedric tells you that you're funny, it means a lot when you're able to make him laugh unexpectedly on set, because he doesn't… He's over most of the stuff that we do on the show, because he’s seen the script, he knows all the beats, like he is listening specifically for the music of the comedy. And so when I can catch him off guard and get him to laugh, when he says that I'm funny, or when Tichina is like, ‘Marcel, how about you try it this way? I see what you're trying to do but try it this way, like trust yourself, you can go a little bit bigger, you can do a little bit more.’ Giving me that kind of confidence, I think it's something that is incredibly invaluable. And I'm always going to have that and, the more that I work with them and the more that I solidify sort of my own way of doing things and my own perspective as an artist, I think I'm so grateful for that encouragement that I got early on when we first started the show.

One can only imagine what kind of deep conversations the trio of actors have had over the years. It’s more than clear that Marcel Spears is in a prime position to succeed, and it’ll be fun to watch him and his co-stars grow as the show continues its run.

The Neighborhood airs Mondays at 8 p.m. ET on CBS, and you can stream past episodes on Paramount+. To find out when it returns next year, check out CinemaBlend’s winter and spring 2022 TV schedule.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Erik Swann is a Senior Content Producer at CinemaBlend. He began working with the publication in 2020 when he was hired as Weekend Editor. Today, he continues to write, edit and handle social media responsibilities over the weekend. On weekdays, he also writes TV and movie-related news and helps out with editing and social media as needed. He graduated from the University of Maryland, where he received a degree in Broadcast Journalism. After shifting into multi-platform journalism, he started working as a freelance writer and editor before joining CB. Covers superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. He eats more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.