Rickey Smiley is a man of many talents: creator and host of the popular nationally-syndicated Rickey Smiley Morning Show, which airs on more than fifty urban radio stations across the country as well as on Dish Nation; curator of some of the most memorable and hilarious characters in comedy history (Bernice Jenkins, Li’l Daryl, Beauford, and a host of others); single father, musician and TV host. Now the Birmingham, AL native is adding one more title to his ever-growing resume: sitcom star.
Smiley’s new television show, “The Rickey Smiley Show,” is set to premiere on TV One on Tuesday, September 18 at 9 p.m./8 p.m. central. Loosely based on his real life, both on the air and behind the scenes, Smiley stars as himself in this heart-warming comedy series, playing a single dad to three kids balancing career and family.
“The Rickey Smiley Show” boasts a cast of heavyweights lending their talents to the mix. There’s comedian, actor, and Tom Joyner Morning Show co-host J. Anthony Brown as Maurice, the general manager of the radio station where Smiley’s character works; and R&B singer/reality TV personality Ray J, who plays Smiley’s radio show producer Kenny. Veteran television star and comedienne Roz Ryan portrays Aunt Sylvia, Smiley’s aunt who serves as “the village” helping to raise his children and keep them out of trouble; and actress Noree Victoria is Smiley’s manager Simone. “Tyler Perry’s House of Pain” alum Demetria McKinney plays Rickey’s ex-wife Monica.
Rounding out the cast and Smiley’s on-screen family are three young up-and-coming actors: Jay Lewis, better known as comedian Li’l JJ, as eldest son Brandon, Ajiona Alexus as middle child and only daughter De’Anna, and Gabriel Burgess as youngest son Aaron.
“The Rickey Smiley Show” marks the latest in the line-up of original programming offered by TV One. With Tuesday night’s double-feature premier, kicking off with an episode entitled “Promises Promises” and followed by one called “Rap It Up,” the newest edition to TV One’s primetime schedule will take its place among fellow first-run series like the exclusive music biography program “UnSung,” which has been a ratings slam-dunk for the cable network; the summer’s new hit reality show “R&B Divas,” starring R&B powerhouses Faith Evans, Keke Wyatt, Monifah, Nicci Gilbert, and Syleena Johnson; and established favorites such as “Find Our Missing” hosted by S. Epatha Merkerson, “Love Addiction,” and “Life After.” TV One has become the go-to cable network for marathon airings of back in the day gems such as “Martin,” “A Different World,” “Amen,” and “Good Times,” and the weekly schedule also includes news and current events programs like “Washington Watch with Roland Martin” and “Our World with Black Enterprise.” The upcoming fall season will also see the debut of “Save My Son,” chronicling Connecticut educator and CNN contributor Dr. Steve Perry’s mission to revolutionize public education, particularly where young black men are concerned.
Given Smiley’s signature brand of clean humor, his uncanny ability to turn everyday events into comedy gold, and his knack for creating relatable and relentlessly hysterical characters, it’s a fair bet that Smiley’s on-screen interactions with his young co-stars will spark comparisons to “The Cosby Show,” while special appearances by some of Smiley’s most beloved alter-egos may even evoke fond memories of Flip Wilson. Expect to see everyone’s favorite church lady Bernice Jenkins, with her church announcements and giving much lip to the other characters, and Minister Joe Willie, who will bring the house down with one of his rollicking gospel-tinged but not quite holy numbers along with his group The Deuteronomaires.
“The Rickey Smiley Show” promises to serve up the jokes Smiley and his fellow comedians are famous for and the laughs fans of his stand-up performances, prank calls, and radio show shenanigans have come to expect. With writers such as stand-up comedian David Arnold on board, and guest appearances by the likes of nationally-syndicated radio and media pioneer Tom Joyner, hip-hop artists David Banner and Waka Flaka Flame, and soul songstress Angie Stone, the show is primed to be a hit with those already familiar with Rickey Smiley and with the newly-initiated. Actress LisaRaye (formerly of TV One’s “LisaRaye: The Real McCoy” and currently starring in VH1’s “Single Ladies”) is slated to make a guest appearance as a fortune teller named “Psychic Jane” in an upcoming episode of the show, and without a doubt more guest stars are in store as the first season unfurls.