‘The Neighborhood’ star Marcel Spears on Season 3 and Cedric the Entertainer

Hollywood newcomer Marcel Spears is a standout on the CBS sitcom “The Neighborhood.”

Hollywood newcomer Marcel Spears is a standout on the CBS sitcom “The Neighborhood.”

Now in its third season (premiering Monday at 8 p.m.), series centers around a white Midwestern family — led by patriarch Dave Johnson (Max Greenfield, “New Girl”) — as they adjust to moving into a predominantly black neighborhood in California. Dave and his family’s next-door neighbors include Calvin (Cedric the Entertainer), his wife Tina (Tichina Arnold), and his sons Malcolm (Sheaun Mckinney) and Marty (Marcel Spears), a successful and nerdy engineer.

Spears, 30, spoke to The Post about Season 3, working with Cedric the Entertainer, escaping Hurricane Katrina as a teen and more.

What attracted you to the show?

The fact that I get to play a young intelligent aerospace engineer. I don’t see that character much. Especially on the network that did “The Big Bang Theory” — as great as that show was and as much as I loved it, I missed having the smart black kid on there. So having that energy introduced and getting to be part of that was personally one of the things that I really liked. Outside of that, the show itself reminds me of the shows I grew up on — these family sitcoms that everybody in the house can sit and enjoy together. The message of the show is about bringing people together despite whatever cultural racial differences they might have, and finding ways to bridge the gap between different ideas and beliefs. I was like, “That’s a show that we need.” And three years later, we’re still here.

Sheaun McKinney (Malcolm Butler), Marcel Spears (Marty Butler), Tichina Arnold (Tina Butler) and Cedric the Entertainer (Calvin Butler).CBS

Season 3 has an episode addressing Black Lives Matter. Do you think it’s important for entertainment to cover social issues?

I honestly think sitcoms are uniquely adapted to do that. Growing up, the shows that I always watched were able to navigate that space between talking about a serious issue and making you feel better about it. Comedy is disarming, it invites people in. And when you can laugh about something, it always feels better than if somebody’s preaching at you. Our show is able to talk about things that maybe others aren’t able to do if they’re dramas. Our audience invites us into their living rooms every week, and it’s a relationship that we respect and hold in high regard. We don’t take that lightly. So our show is able to reach people in a way that doesn’t feel like politics. It feels like a healthy conversation between friends — or neighbors, if that’s not too cheesy.

Cedric the Entertainer (Calvin Butler), Tichina Arnold (Tina Butler), Beth Behrs (Gemma Johnson), Max Greenfield (Dave Johnson) and Marcel Spears (Marty Butler).CBS

What’s it like to work with Cedric the Entertainer?

Cedric feels like an uncle, because I’ve always admired his work. He’s been part of my cultural upbringing; he’s the king of comedy. He’s one of those people that my dad and uncles and mom will laugh at and enjoy. So to get to stand next to this person and be in a scene with him — and to have him be a mentor, and give me tips on how to get the timing right on jokes, and to even sometimes to say I’m funny — is hard to explain. If I can make him laugh in a scene, it feels like a huge accomplishment, because he’s tough and he knows what he’s doing. The fact that I can casually talk about Cedric the Entertainer and call him “Ced,” like I know him, is blowing my mind. Every once in a while I have to pinch myself.

Hank Greenspan (Grover Johnson) and Marcel Spears (Marty Butler).CBS

You grew up in New Orleans. What was it like to experience Hurricane Katrina?

I was 15 turning 16, and I’m the oldest of five in my family. It was a really difficult time. My family had become homeless overnight. We evacuated the city before the storm, but we didn’t know how bad the damage was until we saw it on the news and realized we couldn’t go home — there was no home to go to. My family was living in shelters, sleeping in the car. When we finally landed, it was in a suburb of Fort Worth, Texas, and it was a culture shock for me. I went from New Orleans, a predominantly black city that was very vibrant and big, to this quiet suburb where there weren’t that many black kids, and they didn’t know how to receive these people that had just moved there…That’s a difficult time at a difficult age to find yourself in a new environment under those circumstances. So acting was a way for me to channel some of my confusion, anger, and hurt. Acting helped me stay sane in that time. I found myself in the work.

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