Chicago’s own Cynthia McWilliams dishes on Kevin Hart, Robin Thicke and those “real husbands of Hollywood”

SHARE Chicago’s own Cynthia McWilliams dishes on Kevin Hart, Robin Thicke and those “real husbands of Hollywood”

You can take the lady out of Chicago, but you can never take Chicago out of the lady.

Just ask Depaul University theater grad Cynthia Kaye McWiliams, who portrays Attorney Trina Shaw on BET’s hit comedy and reality spoof show, “The Real Husbands of Hollywood.” The show is entering season three Tuesday night, and Shaw promises that it will be funnier than ever. She’s also grateful that this show in particular, which stars Kevin Hart (and used to star Robin Thicke,) has been the one to “stick” with TV viewers.

“You never know which show is gonnabe the one to hit,” says McWilliams, who now lives in Los Angeles. “I’m very fortunateto be a part of the process from thebeginning. I don’t think we expected it to be the hit that it was. Kevin’s catapulting success has given the show a lot of steam too. I can’t believe the crossover appeal.”

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For those whodon’t know, the show started out as a skit inside of the BET Awards and at the time reminded me very much of a black version of “Curb Your Enthusiasm.” (I’ll never forget the day actually, and not only because I had just talked with Drake and Diddy before taking my seat in the auditorium.The skitswere so funny that it seemed everyone found it difficult to breath between guffaws.)The skits came on between the musicalacts, and Kevin Hart and crew (which if memory serves me correctly included Boris Kodjoe, Robin Thicke, Nelly, Nick Cannon and Duane Martin) gave a fictionalized account of what it might be like to be a sort of house husband in Hollywood. It clearly was a spoof off the beginnings of the “Real Housewives of …” phenomenon. It was so funny that before the awards were over, nearly everyone in the audience was tweeting and talking about how it ought to be a TV show.

The rest is history. It is now one of BET’s most-watched shows.

McWilliams will see a larger presence this season, as last season the guys all discovered that the woman they all had in common was their lawyer. This was a painful realization for Hart, who plays himself and thought he had his attorney exclusively. Translation: Now McWilliams sees more screen time and gets a “man,” played by Wayne Brady, who apparently will be singing at some point this season.

“We have an awesome script, and one of the great things about this show and Kevin and all the producers is that they really do allow everyone the freedom to go off script,” says McWiliams, who graduated from DePaul in 2003. She also gets to keep her own real-life marriage off the show. That’s because she doesn’t play herself. So while the boys all bring in real-life drama and makes jokes, she gets to sit pretty with a littleless embarrassment.

So, what else is in store for Tuesday’s premiere?

“It’ll answer the cliffhanger of who got pushed off the ledge,” she says.

What was it like working with Thicke? Did he give any indication of ensuing marital collapse?

“He was always a doll, and it was a disappointing thing to see him have to go on, but he had that hit and that concert tour and needed to get out there. That’s what we have to do, ride whatever wave is coming. We wish him the best.”

LA or the Chi? Which is better?

“My husband is born and raised in Chicago. It was a very difficult task to get him to move from there. [The move] was hard because I love Chicago, but I had to go where work led me. We traded in those brutal winters for poolside drinks.”

Tell me a secret about the show. Are those stories actually true?

“It’s all based on a little bit of truth. Everybodywho comes on our show has to be willingto roll along with that. This industry is always full of people working hard to projecta certain kind of image. It’s cool to have a show you can look at and see a bit of genuineness from people.

What’s on your must-eat Chicago list?

“Iwrite my whole list before I come home. I go to Lawrence’s andget some shrimp. Harold’s for chicken. Portillos for italian beef and Gino’s or Giordano’s for stuffed crust.”

Adrienne Samuels Gibbs is @adriennewrites on Twitter and agibbs@suntimes.com via email.

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