Cedric the Entertainer wants all the money.
And he’s about to get it—and then some.
The standup comic returned yesterday with the second season of The Soul Man, the TV Land show he co-created. This fall he’ll be the brand new host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire, and with a little patience (and the right meeting with the right Hollywood executive), he’ll be starring in a long overdue biopic: the life of Marcus Garvey.
Oh: and he’ll still do standup, of course.
“I love it man. I don’t think I can give it up at all,” Cedric says of his longtime love affair with taking the stage and doing comedy. “This year is going to be really hard because my schedule’s so busy, but I still plan to stay as busy as I can.”
Cedric took time out of that jam-packed schedule to talk to EBONY.com about the sitcom, the game show and why he’s finally ready for drama.
EBONY: You’re going to be dominating the airwaves this year on a couple of different networks with two shows.
Cedric the Entertainer: Yeah, that’s exciting. It’s a really busy time. I’m really excited to be back with The Soul Man, and looking forward to people seeing this new season and having a good time with it. And then I’m just as excited of being announced the new host of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire.
EBONY: You’ve hosted a game show before [NBC’s It’s Worth What?]. But have you commiserated with your buddy Steve Harvey at all about living two lives on two networks at the same time or anything?
Cedric: I actually called him before I even took the job! It just so happens before he became the host of Family Feud, he went in for Millionaire, so he had a lot of great advice. He gave me great advice about trying to really identify myself in there, understanding that it is on every day, and that you’re hitting a [new] fan base. As popular as you’ve been, and all the things you think you’ve done in your career, you’re going to be surprised how many people will see you in this daytime, every day format. And so he was getting me ready for it, and letting me know it was important to be myself and yet have a good time, and transfer that off that screen so people can feel me.
EBONY: Sound advice. So there’s no competition between the two?
Cedric: No! Actually it’s going to be great because in certain cities we’ll be on back to back. This is really good for us; this is great for our friendship.
EBONY: And The Soul Man is coming back for a second season…
Cedric: I just saw something on TV the other day, where it was like 30 shows got cut. You realize that it is really hard to keep a show on and to have a network supporting, and it took a bit of work and maneuvering in order for us to get back here for this second season. Mainly a lot of budgets and things of that nature. But we were really happy to come back. I love doing this show, I love my cast. We just have so much fun. I love the theme of the show of a guy who’s transitioning. Dealing in between that world of trying to be the Christian walk, yet he has a personality that has a lot more secular energy, if you will. And so, we’re going to have a lot more fun with that too now that the show is going be premiering at 11:00. That’s going to allow me to have a lot more fun with the Cedric aspect of it. We’re going to have a lot more fun telling the stories now.
EBONY: How much of Cedric are we seeing in this? It feels like you get to play to a lot of your strengths on this show.
Cedric: You get a great little sensibility of who I am, in the sense that the character is serious and sincere about who he is and what he’s trying to do. Yet he’s also silly and crazy and willing to have fun and willing to make fun. And so I think that that’s kind of my personality in real life. I’m a serious businessman and I try to drive my career along and make sound business decisions. And at the same time, I love to make other people laugh and have that joy of being silly and then being free to be silly. I try to get that across in that manner. And this was one of the great things about co-creating this show, because I did want to show that transition, when you are 40 and you no longer silly. But at the same time, that boyish thing is still inside you.
EBONY: You’re one of the funniest guys to step in front of the microphone, but I know you also get the itch to do meaty dramatic roles too. Is it time now for real?
Cedric: Yeah, definitely. I’m always looking for that right project. I’ve got a pet project that I’m trying to develop that I love. I’ve always had this interest in Marcus Garvey, and I just felt like it was an interesting story to tell. I feel like I could really bring that character to life. It’s just something that I had inside me. But definitely I love the idea of doing things that have a little more of a dramatic turn to it, so that it can surprise and fool my audience. I want to grow it to where people can see me like, “Oh, that was great. I wasn’t really expecting that from Ced!” So you always want that from great comedians like Robin Williams who did that kind of transition. People who have gone from standup to do some really serious, dramatic roles. I always kind of envied and wanted to do that for sure.
EBONY: You as Garvey would be huge. How close is that to fruition?
Cedric: It’s a little bit of ways away. We’re really working out the script, and trying to figure out what part of his life and how we want to tell that story. We’ve got a couple studios that are interested, but right now the movie feels a little expensive to them. They love the idea of me doing something like this and we just need to try to find the script-budget combination that works. That is the Hollywood way right now, but we’re working it out.