Many of us fell in love with actresses Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell-Martin in their long-standing roles as Gina and Pam on the hit TV show “Martin.” The characters were so popular that, even today, years after the show has been off the air, many of us still refer to them as the characters: Gina and Pam. Yet, in addition to being accomplished actresses, what is even more remarkable about these two women is their friendship. In an industry where long-term, genuine friendships are rare, and tales of back-biting and bitter fall outs are all too common, it’s refreshing to see two talented, successful Black women who have seemingly supported one another and stuck together throughout their careers. So here is a little background and well-deserved recognition for the dynamic BFFs who have filled our lives with memorable TV shows, movies, and plenty of laughs:
Both Tichina and Tisha had an early exposure, and inclination, towards the arts. Tichina Arnorld was raised in Queens, New York, where she began performing and singing in church at the age of four. At only eight-years-old, Tichina Arnold earned her first role in a play called The Me Nobody Knows at the Billie Holiday Theater in Brooklyn. She went on to attend the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts where she continued her pursuits in both acting and music, landing roles in films such as “How I Got into College” and “Hope & Redemption: The Lena Baker Story.”
Tisha Campbell-Martin was born in Oklahoma City, yet raised in Newark, New Jersey. Her mother was a nurse, as well as a talented gospel singer, and vocal coach who (along with Tisha’s father) encouraged her love for music. However, Tisha’s interests in the arts did not stop there. She landed her first TV appearance at the age of six, in a 1974 episode of the PBS show The Big Blue Marble.” Tisha attended Newark Arts High School and went on to play in films such as “House Party 2” and “Boomerang.”
Before we knew them as Gina and Pam, the two actresses reportedly met on the set of “Little Shop of Horrors,” a comedic musical film adaptation of an off-Broadway musical. Tichina, 15, and Tisha, 16, played part of a three-girl chorus, showcasing both their singing and acting abilities. The film was shot in London and it was there that Tichina Arnold says the two became close. “We were all over London . . . We learned a whole lot and Tisha and I actually became best-friends because of it,” Arnold says in a recent interview with HipHollywood.com.
“Martin” & Beyond
Although both actresses had been actively working prior to landing their roles on the sitcom, “Martin,” it’s safe to say that many of us fell in love, or became acquainted, with the talented pair on the 1990’s hit TV show. The two were actually living together in L.A. at the time that it was proposed that they play roommates and best-friends, Gina and Pam. So while we laughed at Pam constantly taking jabs at ol’ Marty Mar’s height, or watched anxiously to see if Gina would continue to stand by her man through all his crazy antics, we could also relate to the sisterly, and true-to-life, bond between Arnold’s and Campbell-Martin’s characters.
Most recently, Tisha Campbell-Martin co-starred on the hit family sitcom “My Wife and Kids” from 2001 to 2005. Quite different from the sassy, career-oriented professional and long-term girlfriend she played on Martin, this character was a loving, yet humorous, mother, wife and homemaker named Jaye. In 2005 Tichina Arnold landed the role as the rambunctious Rochelle on “Everybody Hates Chris.” Her character played the outspoken, and often comical, wife and mother in the TV adaption of comedian Chris Rock’s life growing up in Bed-Stuy. Although this also was different role for Arnold, fans still got a taste of the actress’s naturally funny persona. Currently, Tisha is said to be working on a cookbook and a novel. While Tichina is working on releasing an album.
In the midst of all of this, Tisha married her husband Duane Martin, on August 17, 1996. To date, the couple has two sons. Tichina Arnold had a daughter, Alijah Kai, in 2004 with then-boyfriend and music producer Carvin Haggins. The actresses have shared all of these milestones together; whether it’s baby showers, weddings, red carpets premieres, or play dates with their children. And it can be assumed they have shared more than their share of laughs, good times, girl-talk, and fond memories as well.
Thank You for Being a Friend
So, it seems that there are no “juicy” tales of back-biting, jealousy or public fallouts when it comes to the friendship between actresses Tichina Arnold and Tisha Campbell-Martin. The only inkling of this that one might find is on that unforgettably funny episode of “Martin” when the two friends duke it out on stage as Patti Labelle and Effie as they audition for rapper B.I.G. Or maybe on those episodes of “Everybody Hates Chris,” when Tisha makes an appearance as the obnoxious and tasteless Peaches, going two-to-two with Tichina’s character Rochelle. If anything, their real-life relationship seems to mimic best their roles as best friends on the show “Martin.” In this rare, but beautiful, case, we have been blessed to witness two talented sisters grow, experience life and success together (and in their individuals careers) while staying close through it all. We, as women, can learn much from their example in both our personal and professional lives. And this is why we love Gina and Pam.