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No one character from the former CW sitcom ‘The Game’ has been more endearing than tell-it-like-it-is momager Tasha Mack. Now, the dramedy about football players — and the women in their lives — is getting a second shot after being canceled two years ago.

BET has picked up the show and is giving it a major marketing push — something that veteran television actress Wendy Raquel Robinson, who plays Mack, says is a dream come true.

On the eve of the season 4 premiere, BlackVoices.com caught up with the NAACP Image Award nominee and proud Howard University alum to discuss the state of black television, why she loves her ‘Game’ cast mates and all of the things she’s learned from playing her lovable character.

BlackVoices.com: Take us back to when you heard the news that the CW was canceling ‘The Game.’ What were your thoughts?

Wendy Raquel Robinson: You know it was bittersweet because we knew at the end of filming season 3 that the CW was no longer going to have a half-hour format so that was their way of saying, “You’re canceled but not officially canceled.” We were in the kitchen of Jason and Kelly’s house, and the director had the crew and cast and Champagne and toasted everyone for their hard work. It was bittersweet; we went out with our heads up and there were rumors of BET. It cushioned the blow.

BV: How do you feel knowing that the CW has no black shows anymore?

WRR: When the CW introduced its new lineup in February of ’08, there was no one in that lineup that looked like us. That was a big slap in the face. That hurt a lot because it wasn’t about the ratings or the quality of the show, they just had no where to put us. I feel like for whatever reason it doesn’t depict the true diversity as us as a nation when you look at television and you don’t see anybody that look like us.

BV: All the while, there were rumors [show creator] Mara Brock Akil was meeting with BET executives and other networks. Did you think that it ever had a shot at being picked up by someone else?

WRR: I was with Mara Brock Akil and Tia Mowry having a spa day, and this is back in 2008, and Mara said, “It’s going to happen. It’s going to happen…probably in 2010.” But it seemed like it was so far away. I said, “By 2010, the fans will have forgotten all about us.” But now BET has been rerunning the show, and there is a resurgence. It speaks to the power of media and the Internet. I don’t really know anything that has happened like this.

BV: Talk about being on BET now. How’s that been?

WRR: I’m really excited about BET taking a risk and stepping outside of the box and doing something so different and so new and bringing us back to the screen. They are very family-oriented, and I feel like this is some of the best treatment that I have had in all of the years of working with networks. I have a personal relationship with Loretha [Jones], who is charge of development and [BET President] Debra Lee, so I feel like I really know all these people. It feels like this is where I’m supposed to be.

BV: Why do you think that fans of ‘The Game’ are so into the show?

WRR: I think that the one time that our voice was heard in terms of fans speaking out and bringing it back. I’m in a state of disbelief, too, because with the urgings of the fans and BET, everything worked together and clicked.

BV: How was filming in Atlanta?

WRR: It was hard being away from home, but in Atlanta I felt like we were rock stars. In L.A. everybody is an actor, singer or dancer, but when we were in Atlanta, it was like, “Hey Tasha Mack!” and a lot more excitement. It was where we needed to be. They didn’t spare any expense in terms of giving us the love that we didn’t get on the CW or in L.A. It was a new crew, but the cast and writers were the same.

BV: How is it playing Tasha Mack?

WRR: I call her my alter ego. She says the things that Wendy is too fearful to say and does the things that I would not normally do. She’s so politically incorrect. I love her flaws and imperfections, and I love that she’s a strong African American woman and unafraid to speak her mind. She is who she is and has really changed my life. The role she was born to play. It’s rare to play a character that you just mesh with. From the moment I auditioned, I said, “I just knew her.”

BV: What are the big difference between being on BET and now being on the CW?

WRR: The biggest difference is the CW execs were hovering over us but BET gave us the freedom to play and have fun and explore more things within your character. I’ve never played a character that came so innately to me. It’s so much fun. It’s been a ball and a blast.

BV: What have you learned about yourself as an actress by playing her?

WRR: Because I play life very safe, what I’m pulling from her is the ability to take risks and if something is bothering me to speak out. She has given me the permission not to be a people-pleaser all the time, and I need that in business dealings. She’s given me business savvy and the ability to be more direct. Sometimes you do need to make waves or people will ride all over you. She’s given me more inner strength and permission to have fun. I’m a fool anyway, but she’s a fool to a whole other level.

BV: How is your off-screen relationship with actor Hosea Chanchez, who plays your son Malik on the series?

WRR: I don’t have any kids, but me and Hosea are the best of friends. We spend Christmas and New Year’s together. We’ve really become family. I’m close with his mom. [‘The Game’] has really given me some really wonderful relationships. It has changed my life tremendously — to come back two years later in the lives of these characters and jump in. We didn’t miss a beat.

BV: When the season finale ended what your character was going through?

WRR: At the season finale, I blew it with Rick Fox. In my mind, I thought we broke up, but he made a cameo and showed up at the wedding and so it lent itself to “Are they going to get back together?” I was also such a backstabber and introducing Kelly’s ex husband to Stacy Dash’s character and they had a relationship so Kelly punched me out for that and we weren’t speaking.

BV: Now, it’s two years later, right? Where is Tasha Mack now?

WRR: I’m looking for love in all the wrong places. I’m really doing me and get into a relationship. Tasha is getting her groove back and with her comes a lot of baggage. I am with a wonderful young man who is a boy toy, and I am just having fun. But he isn’t having fun; he’s getting more serious. It’s going to be very interesting to see how I sabotage that relationship, but it’s going to take me to another relationship. At the end of the season, Tasha is learning to love herself.

BV: Without giving too much away? What can fans look forward to in season 4?

WRR: I think a discovery. We’re all discovering who we are and what we want. If I can look at all six of us — we’re all in search of something but don’t know what it is. Mine is love and acceptance even though my career is going great. Kelly is in search of a new identity. Malik is in search of sobriety. Everyone is in search of something. We got all this money but what’s our purpose in our life?

BV: What do you think about Melanie and Derwin’s relationship?

WRR: It’s so real with the baby mama drama and insecurities that come with that. Being the wife but knowing his heart is with the child and asking yourself, “Is his heart with the baby mama too?” She’s really insecure, but I love it because I think the audience can identify with it so well. How much do I trust and love my man and can I accept his son? I love their relationship.

BV: Do you think Rick Fox will resurface?

WRR: I think there’s an open door for Rick Fox, but I don’t know. He did ‘Dancing With the Stars’ and is doing other things, so there’s no telling. Ultimately there’s a place in Tasha’s heart for him to always come back.

BV: Are you and Kelly going to be friends again?

WRR: I love her, and this season it’s good, it’s bad, it gets a little sad because we’re all dealing with life and friends drifting apart and coming together. I don’t ever think it will be the same way that it was. She’s on a journey to reinvent herself and the things she does its not repairable.

BV: Tasha Mack hit the big time and is also managing Derwin. Are you still managing your son, Malik?

WRR: It’s been brought to my attention my son and I don’t even interact in the premiere. He fired me again, and he has animosity because now Derwin is the baller. My client Derwin is at the top of his game, and unfortunately my son and I are not as close. There’s some personal animosity, and you’ll see it as it progresses. It’s the perfect set up for season five.

BV: What are your thoughts on professional football players in general and the women in their lives?

WRR: I have no comment as I said years ago (laughs). It’s a very interesting world. It’s a very interesting world. It was a lot for me. You need to have thick skin and know your man and also have an open spirit about complaining about what he did or how he did it. It’s really about being authentic to who you are. I’ve been watching football wives and know the lead lady Dawn, and she’s very sweet and breaks the stereotype of that world. She’s a lawyer and has her head on straight and is very different from some of the other women, but in that world you have to have your life and know who you are.

BV: Do you feel that the show has given you a different perspective on how fame isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be?

WRR: It’s like having everything and nothing. To me, without love and knowing yourself, money and the paparazzi mean nothing. Some of the loneliest people I know are the ones with everything. Look at Michael Jackson getting caught up in a world where everyone says yes and no one keeps it real. It’s hard to be grounded in this world, and that’s what I love about Tasha. She is definitely grounded.

BV: How long do you see ‘The Game’ being on the air?

WRR: I want it to go another five years. It could go in so many different directions. My character is finding love and purpose in life. I want it to keep going.

BV: Do you have a passion project that you want to do? One role that you think you were born to play?

WRR: I’ve been working with kids in the performing arts over the past 14 years with my nonprofit, Amazing Grace Conservatory in South Central Los Angeles. I’ve worked with amazing people who are in movies, TV and getting record deals and to see that and other young people’s dreams come true that fulfills me so much. We’re doing a docu-drama about it following the lives of some of the artists.

Season 4 of ‘The Game’ premieres on BET on Jan. 11 at 10 p.m. EST.

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