Ashley Nicole Black Talks ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show’
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Ashley Nicole Black is America’s favorite spy.

The comedian, writer and actress plays Trinity, a recurring character on Robin Thede’s HBO series A Black Lady Sketch Show.

Trinity is basically invisible, which makes her the perfect spy, right? Often mistaken for someone else and completely ignored, Black’s Trinity comes from a very real place.

“Gabrielle [Dennis] and I were on a plane the other day and she got to witness me getting full Trinity’d,” Black tells ESSENCE. “The flight attendant, every time she came by, she served everybody else and forgot me.”

“She was stretching… like, reaching over me for Gabrielle. Gabrielle was like, ‘Oh my God. It’s real.’ I was like, ‘Yes, I wasn’t playing.’ Finally, Gabrielle was like, ‘You forgot to give her her water.'”

Black is hardly forgettable on A Black Lady Sketch Show, a series that includes the incredible talent of Dennis, Thede and Quinta Brunson.

“They are all so crazily talented that the first month we did a table read and I saw those b–hes read, I was like, ‘Oh my God, I have to step my game up so much,'” Black says, who wrote for Full Frontal with Samantha Bee. “It’s this combination of love and the challenge of just being around greatness.”

The comedian is humble about her own accomplishments.

Prior to joining the HBO series, Black’s Full Frontal gig earned her an Emmy for Outstanding Writing for a Variety Special. Still, as Viola Davis once highlighted, awards and honors often don’t lead to more opportunities or more pay.

“You kind of think it’s going to be this big threshold in your career, and I don’t know if it’s just for Black women or other people experience this as well, but it really isn’t,” Black says. “You get that sort of title in front of your name. Now you’re an Emmy award-winning writer but when it comes to trying to get the next gig, you’re only as good as the last joke you wrote, which is actually great and how it should be. People want to know what you’ve done. Maybe you just have to keep growing and keep getting better.”

And Black is certainly getting better and better, thanks in part to her own skills and the opportunity to work with a team full of amazing women.

“On set, we’re really trying to make each other laugh. There’s no one harder to make laugh than another comic. Let me see how far I can push it. Let me see if I can make my co-star laugh. Let me see if I can make the director laugh. Let me see if I could ruin a take by making the crew laugh. You just are challenging yourself to see how far you push it.”

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