Toni Braxton reveals why she was nervous to guest star on “The Neighborhood” season finale

Toni Braxton reveals why she was nervous to guest star on “The Neighborhood” season finale
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"I was fine until they said, 'Action,'" Braxton tells Entertainment Weekly.

Even Toni Braxton gets nervous.

After more than 35 years of performing, the "Un-Break My Heart" singer reveals that she still actually got butterflies right before she filmed her guest-starring role in The Neighborhood season 6 finale. "I'm going to be honest, and I'm not going to deny it — I was nervous," Braxton tells Entertainment Weekly.

<p>Monty Brinton/CBS</p>

Monty Brinton/CBS

The singer plays herself in the episode based on the true story of how cast member Marcel Spears' first child was almost born at a Beyoncé concert. The finale swaps in Braxton for Beyoncé, and dramatizes the story as Marty's (Spears) pregnant co-parent Courtney’s (Skye Townsend) water breaks at the concert right before Braxton goes onstage.

"What made me so nervous was because we were in this sprinter [van], literally, in this tight confined space," Braxton reveals. "I do feel a little tight sometimes when I'm in elevators and tight spaces. And I was nervous because we were filming — I was fine until they said, 'Action,' and I was like, 'Ooh, a little bit of butterflies here.' But they easily went away."

She laughs at how some people might be surprised to hear that a professional performer like herself still gets stage fright.

"But I actually do!" she says. "When I go on stage, I'm nervous for about five to seven minutes and then after that seven minutes, it starts to subside. That's always a sign to me that this is that good adrenaline that you want."

Braxton and The Neighborhood star-producer Cedric the Entertainer are "old friends" because their kids dated in the past, so when he asked her to guest star in the finale, she immediately said yes. "I've been a fan of the show, but my brother especially loves the show, so he was more amped about it than I was," she admits. And when she read the script, she thought her role was "brilliant."

"This is the first time I've ever played myself, and they've never met me, so how did they make it so personalized for me? I was impressed with that," Braxton says. "It's challenging when you have to play a cameo of yourself but you're acting, and they did a fantastic job of honing in and getting it."

Last September, Spears and his partner Sarah Francis Jones realized she was going into labor while at the final night of Beyoncé’s Renaissance World Tour in Los Angeles. It was days before their scheduled C-section, and the couple thought Jones was experiencing Braxton Hicks contractions (no relation to the singer), so they first went home after the concert before eventually deciding to go to the hospital. They made it in time for the birth of their daughter Nola Renai (middle name short for Renaissance as a nod to Beyoncé).

"They really did try to get Beyoncé [to appear in the finale]," Spears tells Entertainment Weekly. "They were in conversation with Beyoncé's people. We got close. She wasn't going to be able to come on the show — I think she was going to do a FaceTime that they were going to record or something like that, but it fell through at the end because, unbeknownst to us, she was doing this whole Cowboy Carter thing, which took up a lot of her time. And we appreciate her for doing that!"

Braxton thought it was "super smart" how they pivoted from a Beyoncé concert to one of her shows. "I'd heard about this story — I heard there was a young lady whose water broke at a Beyoncé concert," she says. "I never dreamed it was someone in the actual Neighborhood, in the family right there. That was really brilliant to put it into show."

"No, the water didn't break at the concert," Spears clarifies with a laugh. "We were able to make it through the whole concert because we didn't know what was happening. It wasn't until we got to the car that s--- got real. That's when we were like, 'Oh. Oh no. This is not a false alarm."

Braxton gets to play a big role in the birth of the baby onscreen, as she helps coach Courtney through the labor (watch EW's exclusive sneak peek at that moment in the video above). "It was really fun when I had to do the 'push, push, push' with her, because I have two kids but I didn't do that," Braxton reveals. "I had C sections! So I was like, 'Oh, this is how it goes.'"

After filming the season 6 finale, Braxton is ready to do it all over again. "I would love to be back on The Neighborhood," she says. "They told me any time I want to come back, I have an open invitation, so I'm going to take them up on that offer."

The Neighborhood season 6 finale airs Monday at 8 p.m. ET/PT on CBS.

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