“I would say I was 5 years old the first time God decided to write on the canvas of my imagination what he saw for my destiny,” says Niecy Nash who rose into the spotlight in faux-reality series Reno 911 and nestled her way into hearts of America as host of Clean House. Most recently, the actress starred in the TV Land original series, The Soul Man along side Cedric the Entertainer.
“Ever since then I have just been moving toward the mark,” she continues. “So being in television or doing this sort of a show is not far off the mark. It falls in line with the original vision, which is to work in television and in film and to have a positive impact in this medium.”
With her inviting smile and sunny disposition, Nash exudes positivity. But this L.A. born and raised sweetheart has wicked sense of humor that gives her yet another edge as she blazes through Hollywood.
“I’m definitely enjoying the journey, and I have a little bit of everything on my resume to show for it,” says Nash, whose preparations leading up to her 2011 nuptials to electrical engineer Jay Tucker was chronicled through the TLC special Niecy Nash’s Wedding Bash.
“I’ve been a TV host, I’ve done an unscripted sitcom, I’ve done scripted sitcoms, I’ve been a dancing star, on entertainment tonight, I had a jewelry line on HSN,” she recounts. “I’ve been able to taste a little bit of everything.”
Her diverse range of credits include Not Easily Broken, Code Name: The Cleaner, Guess Who, The Bernie Mac Show as well as lending her voice to animated series American Dad! and feature film Horton Hears and Who! and competing as a contestant on Dancing with the Stars.
One experience she holds close to her heart is the reality series she shot with her new husband, three children and opinionated mother. The series, Leave It to Niecy, was short lived, but Nash likes what she and her family “left on the table.”
“It was on TLC and it was funny. It was very rich and it was very real,” says Nash of the series which aired early this year. “I don’t know that TLC was the best fit for us because a lot of their shows are very sensational and very extreme.
“So between the bearded lady and man who eats fire, it’s hard to find a home for something that’s so grounded, but at the end of the day I’m so proud of that project. People tweet me everyday and are like ‘When is Leave It to Niecy coming back?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, it’s not.’ But I’m very, very proud of it.”
The cancellation of her reality series didn’t slow her down. The actress and comedienne is always taking on new projects, new roles, and new challenges. For example, her most recent role opposite Cedric the Entertainer in the TV Land series The Soul Man, which premiered this summer.
Lauded as one of the few televisions shows spotlighting a black family, the series is about an R&B superstar who receives a calling to ministry and movies his family, including wife Lolli (Nash) from Vegas to St. Louis to take over his father’s church.
Interestingly, the role mirrors Nash’s real life experiences.
“That's how you know God has a sense of humor,” says Nash, whose first husband was an entertainer. That is, until he had a life changing revelation.
“He travels around, he's even out of the country performing,” says Nash of her ex. “And one day he comes home and says, ‘I got called.’ I thought, ‘Well, who called? The gas company? My mama? Your mama? Who called you?’
“He said, ‘No, I got called by the Lord.’ I said, ‘What? Now?’ ”
Labeling it an “interesting coincidence” that she would, years later, go on to play a role that she essentially lived, the two time Daytime Emmy nominee and 2007 Gracie Allen Award recipient for Outstanding Program Host initially passed on the role three times due to scheduling conflicts. After the conflicting project failed to come through, she decided, “I’d better get on over here.”
She chuckles, recalling, “It just goes to show you that when God has something for you, the devil and hell can’t take it from you. God held the door open for me and I’m grateful for that. I’m happy that I came to my senses because while they probably saw women who were really great, I know they didn’t see women who used to be a first lady.”
And those experiences did indeed give her a head start in knowing how to approach the role. Especially, when it comes to unexpectedly finding yourself thrust into a position of leadership with the church.
“Being a member at a church and being a first lady at a church are two different things. So making that transition it was very interesting because you have to take so many other people into consideration. In the normal day to day, you only consider yourself. ‘Am I going to get to church in time for praise and worship? No, because I’m watching something on TV right now.’
“You make decisions that only affect you. You decide you not going to Bible study this week because you’re tired, but you don’t have that luxury. [When you’re a first lady,] you have so many extra people you have to take into consideration. When you make decisions, that will directly affect the bigger picture.”
That’s not to say her character or any of the others on the show are perfect people.
“We don’t paint a picture of perfect people. We paint a picture of people who are trying,” says the Cal State Dominguez Hills graduate. “I’ve heard people say that you guys should make the church or make the people in the church seem better, but the truth of the matter is that the church is a hospital.
“People are broken. They are flawed. They are imperfect, so you want to make it look like something to the world. The best thing to do is to make it look exactly like it is.”
As it stands, the future of the show is uncertain as the powers-that-be have not yet ordered a second season. Fans have been sending in letters and emails to the network show their support for The Soul Man and tell the executives they want more of Lolli and Rev. Ballentine.
In addition to her recent work on the small screen, the Nash has donned the hat of relationship expert through her weekly Yahoo! web series, “Let’s Talk About Love.” Having debuted just over a year ago, each short episode addresses different topics relating to love and dating. “Why do Women Date Bad Boys?” “Why Do Men Cheat?” and “Can You Be a Good Girl in Bad times?” are just a few of the weekly questions covered.
A self-proclaimed “hopeless romantic” who married early only to find herself back on the dating scene at age thirty-five, Nash draws from wisdom earned through life experience.
“One of the biggest mistake that women make is not believe men when they tell you who they are the first time,” says Nash. “We believe that there is something we can do to change what they originally said they wanted to do, wanted to be, wanted to have and we cannot.”
In conjunction with the series, Nash eagerly anticipates the spring release of her first book, It’s Hard to Fight Naked. Like the web series, Nash will use the book to dish out relationship advice.
“I try to invite people to think differently about matters of the heart,” says Nash. “Being in love is the thing we were created for, yet it’s the one place we find hardest to manage.”
Though she works hard for her success, the humble actress doesn’t take all the credit to herself.
“God has been kind,” says Nash. “I have been faithful and diligent over that that He has given me and the Bible is true when it says that He will open a window of heaven and pour out blessings you don’t have room enough to receive. I feel like at the end of the day He’s been kind. He’s been very kind.”
In fact, it is her relationship with the Lord which Nash calls her saving grace.
“Helping people navigate the relationship space, there’s so much more to do there, I have a feature that I’m working on bringing to the big screen, I have a book and at the end of the day and I still have responsibilities to my family and my new husband.
“Finding that balance, I can’t find it if I don’t have the Lord at the center.”
Even with all that’s on her plate, Niecy stands firm in her belief that the best is yet to come.
“You have to submit to a higher power,” says Nash, “you have to pray, and be healed and hear back what direction you’re supposed to go. So when people say, ‘Well, what’s next?’ I say, ‘I don’t know. Let me ask the man and when He gets back to me I’ll get back to you. ‘ ”