Actor and talk show host Loni Love has enjoyed a healthy stand-up career for more than a decade, but this year the Detroit native really hit her stride in Hollywood.
“The Real,” her daytime talk show on Fox, returned for season two earlier this month with a 1.1 rating, a nearly 40 percent improvement over last season’s debut. It was ranked No. 1 in it’s time period in New York, beating out all other programming (most notably, “The View”). Ratings were also high in Love’s hometown.
“When we got the ratings back, Detroit was the highest and everybody (on the show) was like ‘oh yeah, Loni!’ I was like ‘oh yeah, my people come through!’ I want to thank Detroit for coming through. Some of the highest ratings in the country were from Detroit,” she said in a telephone interview last week with The Detroit News.
On Saturday, Love will be the subject of the Centric network show “Being Loni Love.” In the episode she revisits her childhood in Detroit, including the Brewster-Douglass Housing Projects, where she grew up.
“We went back to my old high school, and we also went back to General Motors where I worked as an intern. I was a General Motors scholar,” says Love, who was in Florida appearing at a comedy club in Naples for the weekend. “It was just nice to go back and rekindle and reminisce.”
Part of “Being Loni Love” was filmed at the Sound Board at MotorCity Casino Hotel where Love performed in June. Love says she decided to participate in the show to inspire other women.
“Growing up was hard for me,” says Love, 44. “The hard work pays off, and it was just an honor to be able to go back to the MotorCity Casino and sell out and have my family and friends there. That was really the icing on the cake.”
When she visits Detroit, Love says seeing her large family is top priority, but she also likes to drive around the city.
“There are a lot of changes and things that are happening, so I try to rediscover and find something new that’s happening with it. I love going to Greektown and checking out the casinos. In the summer, I try to catch a baseball game. I always drive around Belle Isle ... there are so many memories of growing up there. I go to the mall, Northland (now closed). Then I always drive down Gratiot.”
Love started to gain a national fan base — she calls her fans “Love Bugs” — from touring relentlessly, up to 40 weeks a year, and from appearing as a talking head on VH1 shows like “I Love the ’70s” and her run on “Star Search,” where she was a finalist. These days she’s more of a household name, having appeared on television daily and in films.
Love, who starred in “Paul Blart Mall Cop 2” earlier this year,” spent the summer working on the ensemble film “Mother’s Day.” Directed by Gary Marshall, the 2016 movie stars Julia Roberts, Jennifer Aniston, Kate Hudson and Jason Sudeikis. She’s also in the works with Ellen DeGeneres to launch a new game show titled “Heads Up.” Love frequents DeGeneres’ daily talk show as guest DJ.
Most people see her daily on “The Real,” her panel-style talk show with Adrienne Bailon, Jeannie Mai, Tamar Braxton and Tamera Mowry. The show debuted last year and had celebrity guests of all sorts, including Laurence Fishburne, T-Pain, Theresa Caputo, Dr. Drew, Magic Johnson, Big Sean and Paris Hilton.
Love says people connect with the show because of the hosts’ authentic nature.
“We keep the chemistry because we’re really friends. I don’t think in order to have a good show you have to be friends with everybody, it’s just something that we naturally all are. When Tamara had her baby, I was there for the delivery of Ariah. Tamar performed at the BET Awards, and I supported here there. Adrienne was in Paris in the summer, and I called her every Saturday to check on her. Jeannie and I, we catch up in the summer and plan lunches and stuff because we like to do that.”
She says it’s their family-like connections that allowed them to land guests that people want to see. Bobby Brown was on the season two premiere, his first talk-show appearance since the death of daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown.
“He gave us the first interview since the death of his daughter and everyone was surprised,” Love says. “Why ‘The Real,’ why not some other show?’ But you know, I became friends with Bobby and when Bobby comes on the show, he knows us and he felt comfortable and he felt safe, and we felt like family because we are.”
“That’s the thing about this show is it gives you this edginess and this hipness while everybody else is kind of maybe stiff and we’re just being ourselves. We may not always get it right, but we’re just trying to entertain and show people that the urban environment is a great environment.”
‘Being Loni Love’
10 p.m. Saturday
1 p.m. weekdays
WJBK Fox2 Detroit