“G” for Glamorous Niecy Nash
By Kam Williams
Sentinel Contributing Writer
Niecy Nash The “G-Force” Interview
Niecy Nash was born Carol Denise Ensley in Palmdale, California on February 23, 1970. She developed an interest in show business at a very early age after seeing the fabulous Lola Falana on TV. But she first earned a B.A. at California State University before embarking on a career in Hollywood, starting out as a standup comic.
Known for always wearing a trademark flower in her hair, Niecy made her big screen debut in Boys on the Side in 1995, which led to her landing support roles in such movies as Cookie’s Fortune, The Bachelor and Malibu’s Most Wanted. The glamorous actress subsequently appeared in such blockbusters as Spiderman 2, Guess Who and Code Name: The Cleaner and Reno 911!: Miami, the screen version of the hit television series where she co-stars as Deputy Raineesha Williams.
Speaking of TV, Niecy is also recognized for playing Benita, the late Bernie Mac’s sister on The Bernie Mac Show. Here, she talks about her work in G-Force, the Disney family comedy featuring a mix of animation and live-action, which is currently the #1 movie at the box office.
Sentinel: Hi Niecy,
Niecy Nash: Hi baby, how are ya?
Sentinel: Great. Thanks so much for the time.
NN: You’re more than welcome.
Sentinel: Do you have one of your trademark flowers in your hair right now, early in the morning, as we speak?
NN: [Laughs] I’m gonna tell you the truth that I do not.
Sentinel: How did you come to wear a flower all the time?
NN: When I started out in the “home makeover” genre, I was the only black woman doing that type of TV show. But I wasn’t naâ€¢ve enough to think I was going to remain the only one. So I decided to come up with a way of setting myself aside. It started out as branding, but now I’m a little tied to it, because if I go out without a flower, my fans get upset.
Sentinel: What varieties of flowers do you wear?
NN: Oh, roses, orchids, a little bit of everything.
Sentinel: Do florists and fans help you out?
NN: Not so much florists, but fans definitely do.
Sentinel: W.C. Fields once said, “Never work with children or animals,” because you’ll be upstaged. What interested you in doing G-Force, in spite of that age-old Hollywood maxim?
NN: But you have to work with Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney. So, if it comes down to that, hey! I actually auditioned for him, and he hired me right away.
Sentinel: Tell me a little about your character, Rosalita.
NN: She’s a woman who owns the pet store where the hamsters live. She’s funny and speaks a form of broken Spanish I like to call “Spanglish.”
Sentinel: How hard was it to act opposite invisible animated characters?
NN: In a way, it was a little similar to doing a voiceover, but they made it as easy as possible.
Sentinel: How, by having a stand-in read their lines?
NN: Yeah, and we played with stuffed animals a lot.
Sentinel: What is G-Force’s message?
NN: I’d have to say that the underlying message is that you are what you believe you are.
Sentinel: Is this movie just for kids?
NN: No, I think adults are going to love it, too.
Sentinel: The last time we spoke was before Bernie Mac died. You played his sister on his show and you were also in the movie Guess Who with him. How were you affected by his passing?
NN: Bernie Mac was one of the most authentic and most generous people I’ve had the privilege of working with in this business. Most people are only familiar with the Bernie they saw on camera, but just as impressive was the real Bernie, this amazing man you’d meet off camera.
Sentinel: And how did you feel about the death of Michael Jackson?
NN: Michael Jackson was a man who sacrificed his childhood to give us music that would last forever. So, there has to be some level of respect for his family’s privacy. Most people, if they should, God forbid, drop dead today, there are some things that they wouldn’t want their family, their friends, or anybody to know about them. Therefore, when you look at Michael’s passing through that personal lens, it should make you a little more forgiving in the pursuit of the sort of information the tabloids are seeking.
Sentinel: Is there any question no one has ever asked you, that you wish someone would?
NN: No one has ever asked me that. [Laughs] I can’t think of one. Reporters are thorough.
Sentinel: Here are some of the questions I got from celebrities when I asked them that. The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
NN: First of all, I love Tasha Smith. Secondly, I really try to exercise my faith, because I find that fear and faith can’t exist inside of me at the same time. If there’s anything in my life that makes me feel fearful, I attempt to face it and conquer it because I don’t rest in a place of fear.
Sentinel: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
NN: you got that from Columbus? I mean, you get people to come up with some gooooooood questions! This makes me feel forced to come up with one. It’s like, “Wait a minute! I know I can think of an interesting question, too.” Let’s see. Am I happy? Yes I am. I live my life believing that any day above ground is a good day. At this stage of the game, I’m a single woman. I would love to be sharing my life with someone special. But still, when I lay my head down at night, I have to say that I love my life. I love the fact that I am able to live my dream and feed my family at the same time. Sometimes, those two don’t work hand-in-hand.
Sentinel: When I saw you on The View recently, you talked about having a new boyfriend here in New Jersey. What happened to that relationship?
NN: We’re still really good friends, but we stopped seeing each other simply because of our locations. It’s really difficult to date with 3,000 miles between us. Somebody needed to move.
Sentinel: How do you balance raising three kids with your career?
NN: I thank God almost every day for my mother. She helps me a great deal, because I did not want a nanny or someone I didn’t know in my home helping me with my children. Fortunately, my mother is able to help me maintain it all. She retired early and sold her house to move in with us.
Sentinel: “Realtor to the Stars” Jimmy Bayan was wondering, where in L.A. you live?
NN: In the Valley.
Sentinel: The Laz Alonso question: How can your fans help you?
NN: My fans can help me remaining supportive. It’s difficult for African-Americans to stay on television. If you’re a fan, you need to follow that person, support the work they do, send a letter or an email to let the studios and the industry know that you’re paying attention, and what you want more of.
Sentinel: Where can you’re fans contact you?
NN: I have my own site, www.niecynash.com.
Sentinel: The bookworm Troy Johnson question: What was the last book you read?
NN: Before You Do: Making Great Decisions That You Won’t Regret by Bishop T.D. Jakes.
Sentinel: What is your favorite meal to cook?
NN: I prefer to make reservations at the Oceanaire, my favorite restaurant of all time. It’s on the East Coast. But there’s so much good food in Los Angeles, from fine dining to hole-in-the-wall places. I’ll take any of it, as long as I don’t have to stand over a stove.
Sentinel: The music maven Heather Covington question: What music are you listening to nowadays?
NN: I listen to R&B and Gospel. Those are my two favorite genres.
Sentinel: Teri Emerson would like to know, when was the last time you had a good laugh?
NN: [Laughs] My girlfriend Jamil is not a comedienne, and has never been on stage, but I promise you that she is by far the funniest person I have ever met in my life. And I’ve met every comedian in Hollywood. There isn’t a day that goes by when I speak to her that I don’t literally laugh out loud. So, I feel blessed to have the opportunity to laugh every day because I know her.
Sentinel: Do you see yourself as an actress first or as a comedienne?
NN: I’d have to say I see myself as a comedienne first. And no one has ever asked me that question either.
Sentinel: Rudy Lewis question: Who’s at the top of your hero list?
NN: My sheroes are my mother, Michelle Obama, Maya Angelou and Oprah. At the top of my hero list would be President Barack Obama.
Sentinel: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
NN: The truth.
Sentinel: What advice do you have for anyone who wants to follow in your footsteps?
NN: That you pursue whatever God has helped you identify as your destiny, no matter what.
Sentinel: How do you want to be remembered?
NN: I would love to be remembered as being a blessing.
Sentinel: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?
NN: Experiencing personal tragedy. When I was 15, I saw my mother get shot right in front of me. And then my brother was murdered the day before my 23rd birthday, Those are the things that are still pressed against the fabric of my soul every day. Those personal tragedies change you forever so that you’re in a perpetual state of overcoming.
Sentinel: Now that you’ve had a little time, can you think of a question no one has ever asked you?
NN: No one has ever asked me whether I’ve had an awful experience working on a project. People just assume that everything’s great because you’re on TV or in a movie. But every day is not always the best day. There’s an upside and a downside to everything, including entertainment. The downside is not only when you don’t get work. What about when you’re in a cast with an actor who’s insatiable, with a diva who’s over the top with her foolishness, or working for a director who’s ruthless or a cutthroat? They can wear on you as well.
Sentinel: Thanks again, and best of luck with G-Force and all your other endeavors.
NN: You’re welcome. Bye-bye.