Actress and comedian Retta isn’t a mother, but as a new auntie, she was immediately drawn to her latest project, NBC’s Good Girls.
“When I read the script I cried,” the Duke University alum admits. “I see how [having a sick child] could tear you apart and make you feel backed into a corner and helpless.”
In Good Girls, Retta plays Ruby Hill, a suburban wife and mother whose sick daughter is in desperate need of a lifesaving kidney transplant. Though her little girl is on the list, finding a donor could take years and the medication that can keep her alive costs $10,000 per month. Faced with losing her daughter, Ruby links up with two of her friends and formulates a plan to rob a local grocery store. But when things don’t quite go according to plan, the women are forced to “woman up” or face dire consequences.
“This was the rare occasion that I read the script that I got it and loved it,” she says. “I don’t think I get a lot of good scripts sent to me. But this was a rare occasion, particularly because it was a lead. So I was ‘bout it, ‘bout it.”
Starring Mad Men’s Christina Hendricks and Parenthood’s Mae Whitman, Good Girls has been compared to Set It Off and Breaking Bad, but Retta argues the dark comedy is much more than a show about women who break the law.
“I’ve never seen Set It Off,” the actress admits, but says her goal for the show was to produce “good TV” and make Ruby a relatable, and real, character.
“I do want them to see a whole person,” she says. “Ruby’s not extraordinary, [but] it’s extraordinary that I get to play an un-extraordinary person. I rarely get to do that, so it makes me happy.”
After studying to be a doctor in college and working briefly for a pharmaceutical company, Retta decided to pursue stand-up comedy in the hopes of scoring her own sitcom, like Martin Lawrence, Roseanne Barr and Drew Carrey. Though she’s appeared on NBC’s Parks and Rec and Bravo’s Girlfriends Guide to Divorce, Good Girls is the first time Retta plays a lead character. It’s also the first time she’s gets to portray a woman in a very loving and affectionate marriage.
Retta says her on-screen husband, Stan — played by Reno Wilson — is the male version of her personality and she loves that on Good Girls they get to portray a close knit Black family.
“I love that it’s normal,” Retta says, explaining the relationship between Ruby and Stan is yet another beautiful example of Black love on screen. “Our kids that we have on the show are so cute, they’re smart, they’re professional, and they just play good kids. I see normal and I rarely get to see it in a Black family in a drama.”
Good Girls airs Monday nights at 9pm on NBC.