Niecy Nash on His Role in ABC’s ‘The Rookie’ and His Hollywood Visibility –


Niecy Nash’s long career includes an array of television and film characters that come to life through her effervescent personality and undeniable talent. After decades in the industry, the 52-year-old actress has entered a new era in her personal life as her career continues to soar.

Shining bright with love and life after her August 2020 wedding to Jessica Betts, whom she calls her “better half,” Nash has new projects, new partnerships, and new goals ahead of her.

“Look, I said when I got married, I said to my better half… You talk about the things you want and all these deep conversations, I said, ‘Can I just be real?’ And she was like, “Yeah.” And I said, “I just want to have sex all over the world. Stamps in these passports. ‘Let’s go,’ she lightly shared with VIBE during of a morning conversation in early April.

We met the Claws star at a Beverly Hills hotel to discuss her new partnership with IHOP as she filmed promotional materials and wrapped up press for the tasty adventure. There, we discussed his upcoming programs, his representation in Hollywood, and more.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

VIBE: I know The recruit coming out soon. How did it work? What can the fans expect from you there?

I had a good time on The recruit. It was so much fun. I can’t help but play someone in law enforcement if I tried, but I had a great time. I play a character named Simone Clark. She’s spicy, she’s funny, she’s passionate, but she’s a bit unconventional. So she has a hard time doing it the FBI way, because she wants to do it her way. And so, his bosses are like, “Enter with the program.” And she’s very like, “But I finished the job, so what difference does it make how I did it?” I had a great time playing with her.

What else are you currently working on that you can share with us?

I am the new host of Do not forget the lyrics ! Wayne Brady used to host it. I currently host and produce it. I was very, very happy that my better half could work with me on it, because she is part of the group. It was good times to film that. And it’s so awesome to give people bags and bags of money after going through such a tough time with this pandemic. When I wrapped it up I just cried because I was so happy. So many people needed that money. And I’m like, “Well, if you know those words, I’ll give them to you.” So it was a good time, and it will be released on May 23.

Are there any types of roles you haven’t held yet that you would like to add to your resume?

It’s a good question. Even though I’ve done a lot of things, I think there’s still a lot of things I haven’t done. And I’m interested in new things. I don’t like to play the same kind of thing over and over again. I had the opportunity to play someone who was really bad, and timing-wise, it didn’t work out. But it would have been so delicious because I’m always having a good time and so much fun at a lot of things. So being someone who was the complete opposite of myself would have been something interesting to play.

Do you think you would have had major difficulty tapping into that…just being mean?

You know what? I have the impression that the major difficulty comes if the work is long. Because then some of that bakes into you. And maybe even sometimes your character might have a vernacular that isn’t yours, but because you lived there six months a year for five years, when you’re not at work, you can borrow some things to your character that you should have left on the page. But sometimes you learn great things from a character, and then they change you for the better as a person. It can work both ways. So, you just have to be careful.

How do you think the industry has developed since you entered the industry, in terms of portraying different types of romance, different kinds of people from different kinds of backgrounds and looks…just different kinds of everything?

I have the impression that there is a much broader visibility. You can see it in ads, with body types, with gay relationships, even skin tones. I just feel like it’s a lot wider than before. Even my character on The recruit, she would identify as fluid. She dates men and women on the show. So I think we’ve definitely come a long way. There’s always new ground to be gained, but visibility right now, you can pretty much drop onto a streamer or regular TV and find yourself. And I think that’s the most beautiful thing.

Jessica Betts and Niecy Nash attend the 94th Annual Hollywood & Highland Academy Awards on March 27, 2022 in Hollywood, California.
Mike Coppola/Getty Images

What do you think the creators – not just the people on the screen, but also the people who write, the people who direct, the people who produce – what do you think they can do better or do more to ensuring that visibility is not limited remains on screen and impacts real life?

I think the gift is [the] people behind the camera. I think it’s people in the writer’s rooms. I think it’s the decisions of leaders that reflect the real world. Because you might want to live in a certain world, but that’s the one you have. And we don’t know another life because nobody ever came back from the other side to tell us, but if they did… You know what I mean? We don’t know because they haven’t, but I just think doing projects that look like the real world is where you’re going to win.

How do you think responsibility spreads in Hollywood? Is it up to talents like you to decline certain roles? Does it open up writers’ rooms to people who may not come from institutions inherited from the past?

I feel like it’s a shared community, and I feel like no matter where you walk in that community, we all play a role. Whether it’s inviting someone to think differently in a writer’s room or a network directive that says “We want it to be diverse and inclusive in terms of color, gender and choice of life”. I think we all play a role.

I know for me, when I was spinning Claws, we had the role of a woman who had her nails done and she had lines in it. And as the show lead, I said, “I know this was written for a woman, but I know a guy who I think would be fantastic in this part.” They gave him [Nicco Annan] work and you would probably know him best as Uncle Clifford from P-Valley. But I saw it before this network saw it. And said, “This guy has something. Turn that off and let him come and be who he is in this living room. They liked it so much that they invited him back. So we can all play a role in this.


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