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Exclusive: Actor Palmer Williams Jr. on 'Love Thy Neighbor,' faith and selfies

Palmer Williams Jr. portrays Floyd in the Tyler Perry sitcom 'Love They Neighbor,' which airs on the Oprah Winfrey Network.
Photo by Rick Diamond

The Tyler Perry original series "Love Thy Neighbor" returns to the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) June 25 with an all-new set of half-hour episodes featuring the creative characters who frequent Hattie Mae Love's aptly named Love Train Diner. On June 23, Examiner spoke exclusively with show star Palmer Williams Jr., who portrays sarcastic apartment super and diner employee Floyd Stanley Jackson. During the interview, the affable Williams touched on a variety of subjects, including what viewers can expect in the weeks to come, the power of faith, and why his Twitter feed is flush with funny selfies.

What's in store for "Love Thy Neighbor" viewers when the season starts up again this week?

Palmer: "Love Thy Neighbor" is going to come out like gangbusters. We're going to address Linda [Mae Love-Harris, played by actress Kendra C. Johnson]'s issues this season as far as her dilemmas in her dating process and issues with trying to find the right man and the right fit for just her. Sometimes finding out what may be good for her might be right there in front of her but she doesn't recognize it because she has blinders on from all the hurt. The hurt is, like, over this eye and the disappointment maybe over this eye and she's trying to see through all of that and she's not able to see what's good for her. So we're going to address Linda's issues as far as finding true love, and maybe that true love may have to be found in herself, and all of the expertise that Hattie [played by Patrice Lovely] and myself are trying to give her in her plight.

I noticed when I was looking you up online that there's not a whole lot of biographical info about you out there. Can you give me just a quick run-down on your history and how you got to where you are now?

Palmer: Well, my mother and father got together, and there was this one night, I think it was right outside the river and they were in the back of a car and.... oh, you don't want to go that far back?

[Laughs] Maybe not.

Palmer: Actually, I come from a very small town, Camden, Ala., population about 2,300, and that's including every dog, chicken, cow, and cat. From there I went on to finish high school and had the disappointing aspect of when my mother passed away and having to move in with my aunt and uncle in Mobile, Ala. until my father got remarried. Graduated from high school, went to Knoxville College, short stint in the Navy, and sort of got the acting bug while I was in my senior year of high school and into college on a choir scholarship.

From there, I went on to join a show called "A Good Man is Hard to Find" with the late Rev. David Payton. I learned what to do and what not to do out on the road. I eventually got to the point where I started doing my own productions, like "What a Man Wants, What a Woman Needs." This whole slew of productions I had done, it eventually got to the point where I was doing a liturgical dance in church, and Mr. Tyler Perry was there, and... his staff called the church the next day and asked me to come in for an audition, and from doing the audition six days later, I ended up being on "House of Payne" and that's how the television career sort of started. Other than a short stint with Mr. Robert Townsend in the Black Family Channel with a production called "Playhouse 22", that was my first TV experience, and that sort of set me up to be ready for the audition that I had with Mr. Perry. And the rest, as they say, is history.

I know you have a gospel album ["Neo-Saved"]. Which song on that album is most personally meaningful to you?

Palmer: "What Good Would it Do." It's a song about a married man who's faced with an adulterous situation, or the possibility thereof. The lyrics on the chord, like "what good would it do if I lay with you, ruin my life, my kids and my wife, I just can't give in, I can't fall into sin, I'm gonna say no to you, because what good, what good would it do." A lot of that has to do with some of the things that I may've been faced with and trying to make a decision, like the red or the green pill. Choose ye this day life or death. And that's basically why the whole premise of "The Matrix" is so Biblical. It was based off of "choose ye this day, life or death." So I chose life. And I guess that's why now I have four children and a wife and a baby mama, and they all get along. [Laughs] So you know, that's nothing but God. So I'd say that's one of my favorites.

And also "Create in Me a Clean Heart," the last song on the album, was something that when I made that decision to really let go of all the pain and everything that I had been suffering by making wrong choices in life. When I chose God, that's when everything turned around.... I was able to live a life that was more abundant. I thought that I was doing everything right by having excess of this and excess of that, but sometimes less is more.... A lot of my life has been spilled out into that album. It's relatable.

One last thing: I checked out your Twitter feed and I have to know: what's up with all the selfies?

Palmer: I know, right? You know what, that actually is sort of a joke with Darmirra Brunson who plays Drew on the show. She's always taking selfies so, you know, I'm the elder statesman of the cast, so I try to our-selfie her and I do, like, the weirdest selfies. I'm just still getting into the whole Twitter thing and trying to be current, and trying to be a young man in this technological-savvy world with the Twitter and the Facebook and the Instagram, and trying to stay connected with, I don't like to call them fans, I call them friends of mine, who pay attention to my work. I try to stay current and Drew is like the selfie queen so I'm trying to keep up with her so I can stay current with her generation especially.

You know what? I should do one now. I should do one with you doing an interview with me.

Oh, totally. Do it. Do it.

Palmer: Yeah, that's funny. So I'm gonna do a selfie of you and I with this beautiful canopy that you have over you right now....

You got it?

Palmer: There it is, there it is. I'll send it out.

Sweet! I'll be looking for it.

"Love Thy Neighbor" resumes on OWN at 9 p.m. Eastern/Pacific on June 25. Viewers can live tweet the episode using the Twitter hashtag #lovethyneighbor.

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