Niecy Nash: Except for the pandemic, 'I'm always working'

Niecy Nash stepped in as Dr. Ryan for "Never Have I Ever" reshoots. Photo courtesy of Netflix
1 of 2 | Niecy Nash stepped in as Dr. Ryan for "Never Have I Ever" reshoots. Photo courtesy of Netflix

LOS ANGELES, May 6 (UPI) -- The COVID-19 pandemic has forced Niecy Nash to stop acting as she follows stay-at-home orders in California. Nevertheless, Nash's shows Mrs. America, Never Have I Ever and Reno 911!, her movie Uncorked and an appearance on an OWN show all released between March and May.

"I've always been employed with at least two jobs at a time, sometimes three," Nash told UPI in a phone interview Monday. "So I know that is the way it has worked for me. Were it not for the COVID, what would I be doing right now? Working."


Before productions shut down across the industry, Nash had completed her roles in Mrs. America, Never Have I Ever, Reno 911! and Uncorked. She also filmed an appearance on Fear Not with Iyanla Vanzant remotely from home.

Nash tries to pay every job forward, too. On each acting job, she tries to get others work, whether as production assistants and stand-ins or sometimes songwriters who may be able to sell a piece of music to her show.


"I just think it's the law of reciprocity that it comes back to me," Nash said. "That's not why I do it. I do it because I don't want to be selfish and I don't want to hoard a blessing. However, the other side of that is that the universe responds in kind and I'm consistently working."

Inspiring youth

She also spread the wealth while working on Never Have I Ever, which premiered April 27 on Netflix. Nash plays Dr. Ryan, the therapist Devi (Maitreyi Ramakrishnan) sees to talk through her weekly high school troubles. Nash said she hired her own makeup person, following her personal rule.

"My therapist is not as glamorous as my character was," Nash said. "My character was super cute on Never Have I Ever."

Created by Mindy Kaling, Never Have I Ever had filmed the therapist scenes with a different actor. The show decided to recast and called Nash.

"When they reached out, I was like, 'You had me at hello. Let's do it.'" Nash said.

Nash said she did not inquire about the previous actor. She filmed all the Dr. Ryan scenes in two days.

"I feel like they wanted me to just play it real and let the comedy just come naturally," Nash said. "I had worked with Mindy before on The Mindy Project, so we were already familiar with each other. It was like, 'You know what to do.' And I'm like, 'OK.'"


Dr. Ryan tries to help Devi address her deeper issues. Devi's father (Sendhil Ramamurthy) died at one of Devi's recitals. Devi experienced temporary paralysis, but now wants to focus on boys, her social life and college prospects. Dr. Ryan believes Devi has more work to do psychologically.

Nash could relate to Dr. Ryan trying to help the younger generation cope.

"I have children, so I talk to them very straightforwardly and directly," Nash said. "So I just try to bake a little bit of my motherly instincts in [Dr. Ryan]."

Nash doesn't stop at her own kids. She also mentors a young woman she met in 2012 at a Girls Inc. event.

"I've been working with her since she was probably 14 or 15," Nash said. "A lot of celebrities went down and spoke to the girls. The rest of the girls, I think, just showed up for the day, but I ended up taking on the challenge, being in her life up until now."

Nash's busy season

Nash takes credit for convincing her co-stars to do the Reno 911! revival that premiered on Quibi on Monday.

"I will call [the other cast members]," Nash said. "I will put a group email together two or three times a year, like, 'Hey guys, we really should do this. Hey guys, we were really great together. Hey guys.' I was relentless. I feel like I kept putting good juju in the world and here we are."


Nash now has work spread over multiple streaming services. Mrs. America premiered April 15 on FX on Hulu. In the story of feminist activist Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) and Equal Rights Amendment opponent Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), Nash plays feminist leader Flo Kennedy.

She said the ensemble cast -- which includes Sarah Paulson, Uzo Aduba, Tracey Ullman, Elizabeth Banks, Margo Martindale, Melanie Lynskey, Jeanne Tripplehorn, Ari Graynor and more -- inspired her to pitch yet another project.

"Sarah Paulson is one of the funniest women I have ever met," Nash said. "I said, 'Girl, I didn't know you were that funny,' because we always see her play very dramatic roles and intense roles. So we walked away from that and decided we needed to do a buddy comedy together."

Back on Netflix, the film Uncorked premiered March 27. Nash plays the matriarch of a family who owns a barbecue business. Her son (Mamoudou Athie) wants to be a sommelier instead, which his mother supports. It's his father (Courtney B. Vance) who wants him to take over the family business.


"It's a beautiful father/son story that you typically may not see this particular story with African Americans," Nash said. "It's funny and fun and heartwarming and all that stuff."

In the unscripted realm, Fear Not premieres May 16 on OWN. Vanzant interviewed Nash about coping with fear during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I am really trying to just keep my peace by journaling," Nash said. "I'm still in therapy remotely. There are so many things that we do not know. Right now, I'm responsible for so many people in my family, so to be unemployed and to not know how long you're going to be unemployed can cause some anxiety."

One job about which Nash is unsure is her TNT series, Claws. She was in the middle of filming the show's fourth and final season when production shut down. The future of Claws remains uncertain.

"We shut down production maybe when we were on Episode 4 or 5," Nash said. "There's talk that we're going to come back and finish it, but we don't know."

Latest Headlines