‘American Housewife’s Holly Robinson Peete on Reuniting with Katy Mixon, That Wesport Energy, & More
Katie Otto (Katy Mixon) wasn’t born a great mom on American Housewife. In the show’s winter premiere on January 13, viewers will meet her longtime pal Tami, played by Westport newcomer Holly Robinson Peete, a “supermom’” who’s given a helpful tip or two to Katie over the years.
But while Katie believes Tami is pretty near perfect, she’s going to discover no parent can do everything. TV Insider chatted with Robinson about her recurring role, stepping into a cast working on all cylinders, and more.
How did being cast as Tami come about?
Holly Robinson Peete: It all came together pretty quickly. [Showrunners] Rick Wiener and Kenny Schwartz are friends of mine and I was up in Vancouver working on some Hallmark movies when they called. They asked if I had time to come and play after they explained who Tami was. I was sold. They actually had me at “Katy Mixon.” I had already gotten to work with her on Mike & Molly.
I have to say being on a show that’s been up and running for five seasons is a scary place to be. I’m not a rookie, but I had butterflies going into work. In my first scene with Katy and Diedrich [Bader, who plays Otto], I remembered that this is like a muscle. They made me feel right at home. The dialogue on this show is so snappy. You’ve got to pick up your cues.
The pace is unique. A character will fire off a zinger and then another character fires one back that makes the first person say, “I didn’t think of it that way.” That’s a lot to step into.
My mindset was to not disrupt anyone’s groove. I had seen every episode and know the show very well, and I started re-watching. By the time I got on that set, I knew every arc and guest star. My biggest fear is that I wouldn’t come in and be funny, but Katy and Diedrich and everyone made me feel so welcome.
How would you describe Tami?
First, I have to say I love that she and her husband discover the Amazon tape that rips away so easily. That’s such a random thing that we already know about! You really can rip that tape away so easily. Tami’s got that Westport energy, but she has a self-deprecating side. That’s what I find so compelling about her. She likes her green juices and her Patreon, but she keeps it real!
And Tami has a daughter, Grace, played by Kyrie Mcalpin. She’s a find — she holds her own and then some.
Kyrie hit it out of the park. Everyone was complimenting me, but this girl came onto a hit show and went next level! She came ready to play.
So American Housewife is a single-camera show. What are the challenges?
Great question. There’s nothing like that audience feedback [in a multi-camera sitcom]. You get that audience response. You hold for your laughs. I love that format, but I love single-camera, too. You have to have faith that you landed that joke. A lot of the energy comes from the chemistry with your co-stars, the quippy-ness, the back and forth. Sometimes, there’s a learning curve. I reached out to an acting coach just to make sure I was able to come in to this format [and do it].
Switching gears, there aren’t many shows with opening theme songs these days. A lot of TV viewers miss great opening songs like the one you sang for 21 Jump Street.
People ask me about that all the time. I was a young aspiring singer/actress who really wanted to be a recording artist. I lobbied [series creators] Stephen Cannell and Patrick Hasburgh for that. I said, “Guys, I want to sing.” There were 10 or 11 submissions and the one chosen was great. The guys — Johnny [Depp], Peter [DeLuise], and Dustin [Nguyen] — came in and did the “Jump!” in the chorus. I’ll never forget the day we recorded it.
Recently, it was Steven Williams’ [Captain Fuller] birthday so I put the song into my Instagram story to wish him a happy birthday. I’ve been doing some binging and I’ve noticed more shows are having opening theme songs, like Big Little Lies. I say we go back to that. Everyone loves ’90s TV. I say we do it!
American Housewife, Wednesdays, 8:30/7:30c, ABC