Actors Cedric the Entertainer and Tichina Arnold have enjoyed successful careers in the entertainment industry. The pair have starred together in the CBS sitcom The Neighborhood for six seasons as husband-and-wife Calvin and Tina Butler navigating life with their adult sons and neighbors-turned-best friends in a newly gentrified community. The show is heavy on laughter while addressing real topics. Also for CBS, the duo teamed up again to host The Super Bowl Soulful Celebration 25th Anniversary this year. The show, formerly known as the Super Bowl Celebration of Gospel, aired on Saturday on CBS and is available to stream on Paramount+.

It honored NFL players’ contributions and achievements on and off the football field. Players Rayne “Dak” Prescott, Damar Hamlin and Markquese Bell were honored during the ceremony. CBS Mornings co-host Nate Burleson, an analyst on The NFL Today, was honored with the Lifetime of Inspiration Award. The show also featured performances from Earth, Wind & Fire, Kirk Franklin, Mary Mary and Robin Thicke. The Players Choir, comprised of NFL players, also performed. 

Ahead of the big event, Tichina and Cedric sat down with Blavity’s Shadow and Act to discuss their long-running sitcom. While Cedric revealed new information about his barbecue sauce and seasonings line, Tichina discussed new music.

Congratulations on Season 6 of The Neighborhood. It is rare nowadays for primetime shows, especially comedies. What contributes to the show’s staying power?

CTE: I really think from the very beginning of the show has been this the idea of what it looks like to be part of America. And more currently, how we have these neighborhoods that are being gentrified, and where do we stand as a people; can we all get along? Is there an opportunity to learn from each other? Is that an opportunity where harmony can exist just because we are different? Can we get to know each other? Can we have actual friendship? And so I think that’s really what the show was kind of based on and what they wanted to achieve from the early stages because we got a fantastic cast.

I think we got a great cast and, of course, really wonderful writers. And staff and the network who supports what we try to do on the show. And then also you get to go to work with people that are super talented, funny. We enjoy each other. So it’s just really been a unique energy.

Now, there are some authentic storylines that you guys are delving into this season. We’re dealing with you guys in terms of aging and coming to terms with grandparenthood in a nontraditional way. I’m sure it’s relatable to you, Cedric, because you are a grandparent now. And Tichina, you deal with your issues navigating parenthood to a young adult daughter. So, how excited were you to delve into some of the themes this season?

TA: I was very excited because it’s like how I am in real life; as you said, my daughter is 19, going on 75. There are a lot of new things that she and I are both going through. I’m not going through the grandparent thing yet, but I’m doing it through a dog; she wanted a puppy. She got the puppy. So, now I have a granddog; I’ve been learning. I’d rather the granddog than the grandchild right now because, at this stage, it’s fun.

Being on The Neighborhood all of these years, I am just so happy because we have survived, we’ve lasted. And it’s just a great show. And, of course, having Cedric at the helm, we are just excited to continue to tell real stories and allow people in our audience to be a part of it. And so me being a grandmom this year, Tina being a grandmom, is just funny; she’s nuts to say that she’s a little on edge.

Outside of The Neighborhood, you are hosting The Super Bowl Soulful Celebration 25th Anniversary this year. It’s a gospel music event/award ceremony mash-up. Now, when I think of gospel music and the NFL, they may not necessarily go hand in hand. But for you, Cedric, how do you feel those two entities, even though they may seem worlds apart, can merge for something like this?

Cedric: I really love the idea that they use such a big event as the Super Bowl, which is one of the biggest events in the world. And so the opportunity to show that a lot of these men have large hearts and great degrees of spirituality to be able to play a game that is so physical, it takes you away from your family so much. But a lot of these guys are really solid people who are community-driven, family-driven, and they take their money and their fame and do good work with it. And I think this is a great opportunity to put a spotlight on that so that people know that it’s not all about the game. Sunday is a work day for them, so that means that they have to get up and put their best foot forward. Then, the rest of the community — their family and their loved ones — get the rest of those days. And so I think this is a good way to spotlight that. Plus, you know, they have a good choir. They get to sing. We’ll be surprised to see some of the great community work that these guys do. And I think that’s what makes this a very special bit.

You mentioned that there’s a choir, and there are a lot of really amazing special acts. Tichina, as a vocal powerhouse yourself, what acts are you excited to see hit the stage this year?

TA: I always love Mary Mary. Erica Campbell, her daughter, and my daughter went to school together. So they’ve been the best of friends. They’ve known each other since kindergarten, so that’s always fun. And Earth, Wind & Fire are always amazing. 

I love whenever music is involved because we all need healing. We all need a refresh. We need to be ministered to. So what better way than through music, through gospel music, and through motivational music? And I think it’s kind of cool to see the football players without their helmets on, too. 

Cedric, not too long ago, we spoke to you with Anthony Anderson about your barbecue seasoning line. How are you guys looking to expand that this year? Are you adding different products? Hopefully, you’ll sell a grill soon. 

CTE: So we are growing the business quite a bit. We’re going into tools for all the things that you use for grilling. We are in development with grills, both outdoor grills and indoor grills. There hasn’t been anything new in that space other than the air fryer, which was an extension of what the George Foreman Grill did. So we’re looking at technology and building in that area. But we’re also going to open some restaurants. So that’s one of the newest things that’ll be happening. 

We’re doing one on Jackson State University’s campus that will actually be opening up in a couple of weeks. And then, we’re going to do our trademark store here in the Los Angeles area at the Century City Mall. So, we are excited about the business’s steady growth. 

We are adding new seasonings and flavors. And again, the grills will probably come more toward next spring because that’s the season to do it, and we kind of missed this year’s deadline; it came so quickly. It was tough to be able to get something that felt like it was going to be unique enough into the marketplace this year with such a hard deadline.