If you haven’t checked the entertainment forecast lately, things are heating up for Nicole Byer. Fresh off of her second Emmy nomination for Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Competition Program, as well as a nom for Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special, Byer is back for another season of Nailed It!, which debuted on Netflix October 5, and she’s starring in a new movie on Comedy Central titled Cursed Friends which airs October 8.
There’s also the four podcasts she hosts: Why Won’t You Date Me, Best friends with Sasheer Zamata, Newcomers with Lauren Lapkus, and 90 Day Bae with Marcy Jarreau. And the upcoming second season of Grand Crew which just began filming. Booked and busy barely scratches the surface when it comes to Byer. But she managed to carve out time in her schedule to talk to ESSENCE about her Hollywood grind, numerous gigs, and the gratitude she feels for the work she’s able to do.
Congratulations on your most recent Emmy nominations. What did it mean to you this year to not only be nominated again for Outstanding Host For A Reality Or Competition Program but also Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special for Nicole Byer: BBW (Big Beautiful Weirdo)?
NICOLE BYER: Well, the first year I was nominated was truly wild. It was like, what? To be nominated with all those people. People are like, “It’s humbling.” I was like, “This is the exact opposite of humbling. You can’t f-cking tell me anything now. I’m the fucking best of the best.” No, I’m kidding. It was just really special and I don’t really host the way other people host, so it was really special that it was recognized. I stick true to me and I don’t really keep it formal. It just meant a lot that people recognized it.
What details can you share about this season of Nailed It?
BYER: Well, this season is a spooky-ooky season. It is Halloween, and we do some crossovers with some Netflix shows. It’s spooky and also fun and within the family. I wear a lot of really fun stuff. Jen, my makeup artist, does a lot of fun stuff with my makeup. It’s just like fashion, pics, comedy. It’s fun. It’s really fun.
You also have Cursed Friends coming this weekend aa well. What can you tell us about this movie and your character?
BYER: It is a silly, funny movie with Jessica Lowe, Harvey Guillen, and Andrew Lewis Caldwell, and then also Nicole Richie‘s in it and she’s fantastic. I haven’t seen the movie yet because nobody trusts me with anything. I tell people everything. I send people things I shouldn’t send them. I’m a busy body. I like to spread the knowledge. So, I haven’t gotten to see a cut yet because I can’t be trusted. But shooting it was so much fun. Harvey and I were two peas in a pod. We had a blast, and everyone was amazing. The premise is these friends played MASH: Mansion, Apartment, Shack, House. So we play that game and it tells us what our futures hold, but it’s in this book and then our futures maybe are coming true. Then we have to figure that out. I don’t want to give too much away, but it’s very, very fun and silly.
Have you already started filming the second season of Grand Crew?
BYER: We start episode four next week. It’s just a dream. It’s such a joy to do the show. The creator is my friend Phil, we were on an improv team together 10 years ago in New York. Echo, who plays my brother, we were on a sketch team out here in LA for three years. Carl, I improvised with, and then Gracie, I didn’t know Gracie and Justin, but they’re so, so sweet. Then Erin, we worked together before on a different show. It was just like hanging out with f-cking friends. It’s such a good time and the vibes are all there.
I love those time references because I was first introduced to you with Girl Code which was nearly 10 years ago. Back then, did you see yourself ending up exactly where you are now?
BYER: I mean, it sounds, I don’t know, full of myself, but yeah. To be an actor, to be a comedian, you have to be at least slightly delusional. You walk into rooms with people who look identical to you, who might be just as charismatic as you, but you have to have the delusion to be like, “I’m better than every single other person who looks just like me.” Anybody who goes, “No, I can’t believe it,” they’re lying to you. There’s no way they walk into an audition room and go, “Well, woe is me. This person’s going to get…” No, you wouldn’t book a thing.
Have you always had that self-assurance about your talent or did you have to learn it navigating the entertainment industry?
BYER: I guess I’ve always just been like this. It’s funny, people are like, “How are you so confident?” I’m like, “Why are you not? Why don’t you like yourself?” I don’t know. I look in the mirror and I go, “Ooh, she’s fun. I get dressed and I go, “That’s a good outfit.” Sometimes people say, “You laugh at yourself on stage?” I’m like, “Yeah, I don’t f-cking leave my house to tell jokes I don’t like. I like them. I think I’m funny.”
ESSENCE previously covered your conversation with Taraji P. Henson about being diagnosed with ADHD. How does having ADHD affect your creative process, but also how has actually knowing that you have ADHD affected your quality of life and work?
BYER: When I got diagnosed with it was like, that’s why I bounce around and can’t get things done and I’m hyper focused on a career as opposed to cleaning anything in my house. I have mail that’s unopened, but I make it to all my shows. It’s one of the reasons I was able to get everything done without an assistant. Now that I have one, I’m like, I don’t know how I did that. It’s like, oh, because I let a lot of other things in my personal life suffer to make it to appointments on time, to answer emails, to write this, to do that, to perform that.
Then I learned that asking for help isn’t bad. I’ve learned to be kinder to myself. If I set a deadline and I miss it, sure, yeah, I was f-cking staring at a squirrel outside. It’s like, well, it just didn’t happen. I’ve just learned to be kinder to myself and try to be nice and set up different parameters. It’s like if I get 50 minutes of work done today, that’s a good day, whereas someone else can work for three hours and get a ton of sh-t done. I can’t do that.
There’ve been a lot of conversations around ableist language lately and when it comes to this disorder, people will very casually say things like, “Oh, I’m so ADHD,” when the haven’t actually been diagnosed. How do you feel about that type of language and what you would want people to know about using such phrases?
BYER: Personally, I’m not here to police what people say, but I do think people could be a bit more mindful. When people do go, “Well, isn’t everyone a little ADHD?” I’m like, “How many times a day do you lose your keys?” I have people ask, “Why do you have so many keys on your key chain?” Well, my keys are disgusting. They’re huge and they’re loud. The reason is because if they’re on a table on something and I move it, I can hear them. I can find them very easy. I lose them all the time. I lose my phone all the time. I’m like, when you say you’re just like a little your life isn’t actually affected.
My life is deeply affected by it. Why would you want to claim something that is– I don’t want to say it’s awful, I’ve adjusted to it and I do think it’s what makes me special because I have a different way of thinking about stuff, but why would you want to claim that? “Everyone’s a little depressed.” No, some people have crippling depression and you’re being so flippant about it. I think people could just be a little more gracious.
What has been most difficult along your journey and then what’s been most rewarding for you with the work you’ve done so far?
BYER: The most difficult is every rejection you get. It doesn’t get easier. It gets to be like, oh, okay. It doesn’t break your heart as much the longer you’re in the game, but you’re just like, why didn’t somebody want to buy this? This is a really great idea. Or, why didn’t I get that? Why did she get that? But then I try to keep my eyes on my own paper because I didn’t get it because it wasn’t for me. That is a hard thing to keep in the brain.
And then the most rewarding thing? I don’t know. Grand Crew is pretty rewarding. I really love that show. Doing my special was really rewarding because that was just me. Everything I’ve gotten to do has been pretty meaningful and wonderful. I feel very lucky, which is a real woo woo answer, but even the embarrassing things I’ve done. I’ve done this commercial where I play a very sassy fairy, which, in hindsight it was like, oh boy, I could have played that a little differently. I didn’t have to do with that director asked. I could have been more me. Even that’s silly to look back on and be like, wow, I can’t believe that’s where you started. I don’t know. I’m just really grateful that I’ve gotten to do so many cool things almost immediately. My web series with Sasheer, that was 10 years ago. I still think that’s very funny. I’m thankful that I got to meet her. Life is nice.
Have you found it easy to have a voice in this industry and speak up about your roles and how you play certain characters?
BYER: Oh yeah. There’s been some jokes where I’m like, “Oh, I can’t say that.” They’re like, “Why?” I’m like, “Because you think it’s funny. I think it’s slightly funny, but the people who don’t find it funny are going to come after me, not you, the writer. I’m the representative of this joke. Even if I didn’t write it, I delivered it.” If I don’t feel comfortable with something, I’m not doing it. I’m just going to say, “I’m so sorry. Can you please come up with an alt? I’m sorry,” and I just apologize or whatever.
Usually people are like, “Yeah, of course,” or I’ll just improvise. I won’t ask for forgiveness later. I find it rather easy to advocate for myself, just because if I don’t do it, who’s going to do it?