Four-time Emmy nominee Niecy Nash-Betts has a lengthy list of acting credits to her name, including roles in comedic series such as Reno 911! and Claws and dramatic turns in Getting On and Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story, which premiered as the most-watched Netflix series on record. She’s also host of Fox’s Don’t Forget the Lyrics!, and in her latest series, further proves her versatility by playing Simone Clark, the oldest recruit to join the FBI, on ABC’s The Rookie: Feds, which premiered Sept. 27.
You’re 52, and your career seems to have only flourished as you’ve gotten older. Truth?
For me, I’m definitely the poster child for “It’s greater later.”
During the earlier, struggling actor days, did you ever think about giving up?
I have no idea even what that question means, not for me. My plan A was to carve out the life I wanted. My plan B was to make my plan A work: in love, in art, in all places.
Speaking of love, your wife, [musician] Jessica Betts, 40, will play your love interest on The Rookie: Feds. You also worked together on Claws, and she’s the band leader on Don’t Forget the Lyrics! How is working together going?
I lovingly call her my “hersband,” but yes, it’s not difficult because we really like each other. We like spending time together, and if we can do it and make money, even better.
What’s the best part of hosting Don’t Forget the Lyrics!?
The best part about it is being able to give away bags full of money after this pandemic for doing things we do anyway [like] singing in the car, singing in the shower. I just thought it was such a blessing to be able to help people get back on their feet.
On The Rookie: Feds, your character transitions from high school guidance counselor to her dream job as an FBI agent. Which career would you choose in real life?
I would probably be a guidance counselor because I have always been a person who loves helping people. I feel like our jobs are the things that we do, but our who is to be of service in the world, and so if I can have a job that allows me to do that, I would choose that.
Did you ever get good advice from a guidance counselor?
Absolutely not. That's what would be very memorable [if I had that job]. It would be like, “I'll never forget that time Mrs. Nash changed my life.”
On Claws, your character [a nail salon owner involved in illegal activities] was on the other side of the law. Which is more fun to play?
It was fun to play someone who was not so good. [Desna Simms] was a bad girl. … The things that we were doing on that show you would typically see men doing, à la [the dramatic series] Breaking Bad. But to see five badass women — you know this ragtag band of manicurists — creating their life and taking up space that was normally reserved for men in television was a very, very good look.