Niecy Nash on ‘Uncorked, ‘Mrs. America’ and Quibi’s ‘Reno 911!’ Reboot
Art and Experience: Niecy Nash is self-quarantined in her Los Angeles area home with her family.
“I’m doing exactly that they told me to do,” Nash tells Variety. “I’m staying in the house and getting fat.” She lets out a big laugh before adding, “Did they say the get-stuffed part? Maybe I made that part up.”
Even if she’s not leaving the house, Nash has work to do—she’s currently promoting “Uncorked,” her new Netflix film about a young man (Mamoudou Athie) who dreams of becoming a sommelier despite his father (Courtney B. Vance) pressuring him to take over the family’s barbecue restaurant. Nash plays the matriarch of the family and runs the eatery’s front of house. Nash signed on for the film without reading a script after writer and director Prentice Penny told her he wrote the part for her.
“I think everyone should watch this movie,” Nash says. “It’s a universal story. It’s about relationships. For African-American people, it’s a different backdrop because the journey of becoming a sommelier is not what you typically see with black or brown people. That makes it interesting, but there’s somebody in this movie who you can relate to somebody in your family.”
The film was shot in Memphis, where the cast also trained with local barbecue chefs.
“The back of the house in terms of how to cut it, how to serve it, and the rest of it wasn’t really anything that was for me,” Nash recalls. “Being front of house, you’ve got to love on people. You have to be the face of the place, but that part I pretty much already knew how to do. But I ate a lot of barbecue — I’m not going to lie about that.”
CREDIT: NINA ROBINSON/NETFLIX
Nash will also be seen in FX’s upcoming “Mrs. America,” a drama about the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in the 1970s. The star-studded cast includes Cate Blanchett as right wing activist Phyllis Schlafly, Rose Byrne as Gloria Steinem, Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan and Margo Martindale as Bella Abzug. Sarah Paulson plays a composite character based on Schlafly’s neighbor.
Nash takes on the role of Flo Kennedy, a civil and women’s rights activist who also dabbled in acting. She was known for wearing flamboyant Western attire and pink sunglasses. “She was definitely a spitfire,” Nash says. “Everyone for this project had to read. There were no offers. It was old school. So I researched her and put an outfit together that looked exactly like her.”
The series, Nash says, is right for the politics of today. “They’re trying to take us back,” Nash says. “We got to keep moving forward.”
And then course, there’s the Quibi reboot of Comedy Central cult classic “Reno 911!” Nash is back as Deputy Raineesha Williams. “The thing about ‘Reno’ is that I’ve been a little champion in calling every couple of months, saying, ‘Guys, we should do this again. Guys, where is everybody?’” Nash says. “So, I don’t care what anybody says, I feel like we are back as a team because of me.”
Nash hopes a little bit of “Reno 911” — episodes on Quibi will be 10 minutes or less — will go a long way, especially during the pandemic. “It’s cut up onto little bite-sized pieces,” Nash says. “People are trying to find some relief, a break from this crazy world we live in. I would hope we could provide a little bit of that.”