Actress, host, and comedian Niecy Nash has been making audiences laugh for more than two decades and seemingly doesn’t plan on slowing down one bit. The California native has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy for her outstanding work and has been the recipient of countless other awards and well-deserved recognition, including a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
The multi-faceted entertainer, who’s also a producer and model, turns 51 today, and in celebration, we’re taking a look at the roles that made us crown her in adoration.
Deputy Raineesha Williams on Reno 911
When Reno 911 debuted on Comedy Central in 2003, the instant standout star was none other than Nash’s character, Deputy Raineesha Williams. Her role in the hilarious mockumentary-style comedy earned her a Gracie award in 2010 and a loyal fan base following the show’s premiere and beyond.
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Benita on The Bernie Mac Show
Nash had a recurring role in The Bernie Mac Show as Bernie’s sister, Benita, from 2003 to 2005. When it came to auditioning for the coveted part, Nash was able to book it on the spot and shared that she and Mac improvised their lines during her callback. Their comedic chemistry and timing were apparent throughout the show’s tenure.
Desna Simms in Claws
The actress shined in the TNT drama, Claws as Desna, the determined and hustler-adjacent owner of a nail salon focused on making a better life for herself. For her starring role, Nash was nominated for an NAACP award, Black Reel Award, and nabbed a Satellite Award in 2018 for Best Actress in a Comedy Series.
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Denise Hemphill in Scream Queens
Portraying police officer Denise Hemphill in Ryan Murphy’s Scream Queens has been one of Nash’s most recent memorable roles yet. In a 2018 interview with Entertainment Weekly, the actress revealed that people still text her one of the most unforgettable lines: ‘Shondell, why you got a knife in your throat!’”
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Dolores Wise in When They See Us
Nash secured a Primetime Emmy nomination for her role as the real-life Dolores Wise in Netflix’s When They See Us. Wise is the mother of Korey Wise, who served close to 12 years in prison after being wrongfully convicted in the Central Park jogging case of Trisha Meili in 1989. “I wanted to make sure that her love and pain were baked into the performance,” Nash said in an interview with The Los Angeles Times.
Richie Jean Jackson in Selma
Nash’s career took a bit of a more serious, dramatic turn with the role of Richie Jean Jackson in Ava DuVernay’s Selma. Jackson served as a critical member within the Civil Rights movement, opening up her home as the base of strategic planning, such as Martin Luther King Jr’s meeting with President Johnson. Nash in her own words states Jackson gave the generals what they needed: “provision for the vision.”
Lolli Ballentine in The Soul Man
When The Soul Man debuted on TV Land in 2012, fans couldn’t get enough of the on-screen dynamic duo that was composed of Nash and Cedric the Entertainer. The actress played Lolli Ballentine, the beauty salon owner and wife of Reverend Boyce Ballentine. As always, Nash was able to hold her own in another comedic sitcom hit.