‘I Just Fell to the Floor’: Terri J. Vaughn Recalls the Moment She Got Her Big Break with Steve Harvey

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Terri J. Vaughn is a television staple.

The actress came to be known to audiences through her appearances on ’90s TV shows, which early in her career included spots on “Living Single” and “Family Matters.” But it was when she took her turn as Lovita Jenkins in Steve Harvey’s hit ’90s sitcom that cemented her as a TV star and later forged a path to a movie career.

“My big break was, obviously, ‘The Steve Harvey Show,'” Vaughn dishes exclusively to Atlanta Black Star. “I can remember I’d been living in Los Angeles for about five years just auditioning, getting small parts, doing small commercials, just working, working, working the craft. And ‘The Steve Harvey Show’ came along.

“It was like any other audition, just going in for the audition process. Getting the callback, meeting the director and it just so happens this went the full-spectrum,” she adds.

Vaughn said she got invites to continue to the next stages in the audition process from the producers and then the network, The WB. After going home on the final day, however, she felt she may have faltered on the final day.

“I felt like out of all the auditions for this particular role, that day — that last day — I felt like I didn’t do as good as I had been doing in all the other steps up to this point,” she explains. “I’m sure I didn’t get it. And my phone rang and my agent said, ‘You got the part.’ And I just fell to the floor and I just started crying and couldn’t believe it. And that was my big break.”

Vaughn’s character was introduced in the series during the second season of “The Steve Harvey Show” in 1997. After spending the next several seasons as Booker T. Washington High School’s secretary and later wedding and starting a family with Cedric the Entertainer’s character Coach Cedric Robinson, the show ended in 2001. In the years since Vaughn landed roles in other series like “Soul Food,” a TV adaptation of the hit film, and the sitcom “All of Us.” She’s also starred in the Tyler Perry film “Daddy’s Little Girls” before starring as Melisse in the OWN series “Greenleaf.”

Vaughn has since moved past acting and taken a seat in the director’s chair. The actress is behind a host of Christmas movies, including last year’s “Merry Wish-mas” for TV One, starring David Mann and Tamela Mann. Vaughn’s next holiday film, “Dear Santa, I Need a Date,” is currently filming.