Dramedy is a spinoff of 'The Rookie'
Niecy Nash-Betts readily points out that less than one percent of FBI employees are Black women, a fact that made her jump at her latest project coming to ABC.
In “The Rookie: Feds,” a dramedy spinoff of “The Rookie” that premieres Tuesday, Sept. 27, Nash-Betts (“Reno 911!,” “Claws”) stars as Simone Clark, a former high school guidance counselor and recent empty nester who decides that at 48, it’s time to pursue her life’s ambition of becoming an FBI agent, thus making her the oldest rookie in the Bureau.
She’s also arguably one of its most unconventional as her outside-the-box way of doing things often puts her at odds with her unit chief, Special Agent Matthew Garza (Felix Solis, “Ozark”), and causes agita for her training agent, Carter Hope (James Lesure, “Las Vegas”).
At home, she often locks horns with her dad, Christopher “Cutty” Clark (Frankie Faison, “Luke Cage”), just out of prison after his wrongful conviction was overturned and not one to have a high opinion of law enforcement.
The character of Simone was introduced in a two-part episode of “The Rookie” that aired this past April and is one that Nash-Betts says is different from any other role she’d played previously.
“I thought it was important to show a couple of things,” explains Nash-Betts, who is also an executive producer. “One, that women, Black women can pop up anywhere and deserve a seat at the table.
“And also it’s very interesting,” she continues, “to show people in their second and sometimes third act … . Being in the FBI had been a dream deferred for 20 years but she gave in to raising her children and other people’s children because she was a guidance counselor for 20 years before doing a pivot to say, ‘This is the last chance I’m gonna have to do this, so let me go for it.’ “
So Simone embraces her next act but is determined to do it her way. While this often gets her in trouble, Nash-Betts says Simone can charm her way out of most situations. And she’s a big flirt — with both men and women.
This isn’t the first time Nash-Betts has played law enforcement. For eight seasons on the cop show parody “Reno 911!”, she played no-nonsense Deputy Raineesha Williams, a character that was clearly preposterous but one that she says does share at least one trait with Simone.
“They both believe you can’t fight crime if you’re not (looking) cute.”
But, she adds, “Simone is an A student. In my mind, Simone is a Virgo – attention to detail, want to make sure I get it right, I don’t want to miss anything. And I feel like Raineesha, if I had to categorize her by Zodiac, she’s probably a Pisces – just a lover. And that’s all she is concerned about most times.”