Whether she’s making people clean up their homes on Style Network, hilariously fighting crime in Reno on Comedy Central or running from knife-wielding killers on Fox’s “Scream Queens,” Niecy Nash loves a challenge. As long as she’s having fun—and looking good—doing it.
Despite playing a cast of memorable characters, the Los Angeles native realized there was one person she had never really played: a soap star.
The actress recently got her chance in “As the Fire Pit Burns,” a four-part send up of the kinds of sudsy storylines that play out on daytime television—only this time, the plot thickens at a Residence Inn.
In the four-part series, produced by Marriott Content Studio and Lorne Michaels’ Above Average, Nash plays a business owner as two competing tech companies prepare for a conference. The fire pit is a signature amenity for Residence Inn, and a way to connect an array of travelers when looking for a home away from home.
Marriott TRAVELER recently caught up with Nash, a frequent traveler herself, to chat about everything from her love for New Orleans and what she absolutely can’t travel without.
You’ve had such a diverse career. Everything you choose seems to be about whether you can have fun doing it or if it brings you joy. What attracts you to a project?
The first thing that excites me is if it’s a genre or tone that I’ve never done. At one point I was like, “Oh, I’ve never been a TV host,” so I went and got a job as a host of “Clean House.” Then I wondered how I would like entertainment reporting so I went and got a job at CBS for “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider.” Then I said, “Oh! I haven’t been in a leotard since I was in the 8th grade, let me go on “Dancing With The Stars!” So sometimes I’m lead by something I’ve never done just to be able to say I’ve done it and sometimes I’m lead by people. I always say if you’re going to spend that much time away for work, you want to enjoy not only the project but the people who are involved.
“As the Fire Pit Burns” is a hilarious name for your new project. What’s it about?
It’s (about) two rival heads of companies and they both end up doing a business conference every year and they try to out do one another to see who’s going to come out on top. It’s about the audience having a funny experience watching these two arch rivals battle each other in business.
Hotels are basically their own little worlds. What makes hotels a perfect funny environment to you?
I think it was a funny environment because you have so many different places in there that become their own set. You can use the rooms, the conference rooms, the hotel bar, the lobby, the outdoor pool experience. That’s one of the things I liked even when I was doing Reno 911. You can create different situations in all the different spaces.
And everyone’s had some kind of hotel experience so it makes it relatable to the audience as well.
Oh yeah, good bad or indifferent we’ve all stayed at a hotel. Let me tell you what, when I looked at all the videos once they were completed that thing is so funny! I’m not saying that just because I’m in it. Even if I wasn’t in it I was cracking up when I watched it.
You recently filmed the pilot for “Claws” in New Orleans. You tweeted that you love the food scene there. It’s one of our favorite food destinations as well. What are some of your favorite restaurants there?
One of my favorite places to eat there is called Neyow’s. They have all the traditional New Orleans fare like the chargrilled oysters, the gumbo, red beans and rice and all that good stuff.
But I really love the brunch at Commander’s Palace. Oh my goodness gracious, they call it the dining experience because they even let you walk through the kitchen just to take a look at what’s going on back there.
Beignets alone will get you in trouble in New Orleans. What are your thoughts on New Orleans besides the food?
You know the one thing about New Orleans that I appreciate is that is a town that celebrates everything! I mean just because it’s Tuesday there’s a parade and a march or something going on. Even in debt they celebrate with a band … they celebrate everything so there’s always a good time to be had any day of the week.
The only downside to filming in New Orleans is that your costumes keep getting tighter and tighter the longer you’re there.
Are there other things you think are a must-do for people when they come for a visit?
Well you know I worked so much there, there were some things I did not get to do but one of the things I plan on doing when I go back is one of those lighted-bike tours. The bicycle itself has lights all over it and they take you all thru the city touring on these bikes. I also didn’t get to make it to Frenchmen Street, which I heard is lovely.
How often do you travel over all?
I travel quite a bit because I travel for work and I travel for pleasure.
When you travel for pleasure what kind of traveler are you? Are you a beach or city person? Do you like to relax or go on tours?
You know what I like the best of both worlds. I like to start off very relaxed. Maybe in an environment that has a great beach and warm water. And if I feel like a night life I want to have that readily available too. But if I don’t, as long as they have a great spa, I’m good.
Where have you been recently that surprised or really impressed you?
I don’t know what I thought it was going to be but after I went to South Africa I had to mark that as one of my favorite vacations because there’s so much to explore. There’s never a dull moment and even after you’ve done everything in the city, everything else is just a short plane ride away (so) you could get to the next spot very quickly. Cape Town I think was the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen so far. Table top mountain is gorgeous. I was often in wonder when I was there (in South Africa).
But you asked what kind of traveler am I? I am the kind of traveler that typically overpacks. I want to make sure I don’t want to want something and not have. I would rather take everything and only need 3 things than to only take 3 and wish I had 5. So I’m the girl who always has the heavy tag on her luggage. I just put everything in there because I don’t know how I might feel. I might change my mind so I need options!
What’s the one thing you always need when you travel?
Well, I have to have my makeup. And I have to have different hair because I don’t know what hair I might feel like wearing when I’m there, ya know?
If you’re deciding between the club or the spa those are very different looks.
Right? I typically bring hair for every occasion so that’s what I can’t go without but I have to take that on the plane (with me).
Besides travel, what do you do on your downtime?
What is that? (laughs) I don’t really have a lot of time because typically I work about three jobs at a time. So usually when I have down time from one job I’m on another one. That’s the way it goes over here in my world.
Where do you call home?
I call LA home, but I go where the work is if I have to.
What are some of your favorites restaurants in LA?
I’m a lover of Mexican food and there’s a little place in the Valley called “Sol et Luna” —Sun & Moon—that’s one of my favorite go-tos. Then if I want to have a nice relaxing experience I go to Mastro’s out on the P.C.H. (in Malibu).