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‘Claws’ Niecy Nash Talks Directing, Loyalty to Other Women and Being a “Boss”

‘Claws’ Niecy Nash Talks Directing, Loyalty to Other Women and Being a “Boss”

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TNT’s Claws Season 3 premieres this Sunday, June 9.

A fan-favorite due to its relatable content showcasing flawed people — women and men who have been hurt or disenfranchised yet who find alternative means to summon their inner “boss” — taking back areas of their lives that were once in disarray and giving glimpse into the lives of a subculture of Southern folks who are marginalized. Despite their struggles, they find ways to claim new territory, get money, and thrive.

The series follows the rise of five manicurists, each unique, working together at the Nail Artisans of Manatee County salon. In last year’s epic Season 2 finale, Desna (Niecy Nash) dodged an ill-fated marriage to the sinister Dr. Ruval (Jimmy Jean-Louis), killed her Russian crime boss, Zlata (Franka Potente), and inherited a new casino. The celebrations ended with a massive cliffhanger when Virginia (Tran) took a bullet for Desna as they were about to survey their new business venture. In Season 3, the ladies will quickly learn that the stakes couldn’t be higher in the casino world. Desna will take on a gamble as she enters into business with a sinister couple: Mac (guest star Michael Horse) and Melba (guest star Rebecca Creskoff).

At a recent brunch in New York City, BGN had the opportunity to chat with Nash about directing, women and loyalty, what it means to be a boss, and taking agency over the female body.

On Directing for the First Time This Season
You direct for the first time on an episode in Season 3. What was the experience of directing like for you?

I love telling people what to do. You actually get to shift the atmosphere on set as a director. I’m the first director in three seasons who ever played music between setups, just to give the crew a little bit of a boost. I brought in a second line band for them because it’s New Orleans and that’s how you celebrate people who you love. I also had T-shirts made with my catchphrase: “Who’s not ready?” If you yell out, “Who’s not ready?” the department that is not ready does not want to be the one who’s not ready. It was just a really good time. It’s exhausting, too, because you’re in it. You have to run to go check playback to make sure you don’t need to change anything. It’s a lot of work, but I would definitely do it again.

[Nash directs Episode 5 this season.]

On Loyalty to Other Women
At the end of Season 2, Virginia takes a bullet for Desna. Can you speak to the notion of women who had been hurt remaining loyal to one another?

Whoa. I think that when you look at this group of women, all who met under unfortunate circumstances, you come to recognize that they all need to catch a break. None of us are perfect, but their hearts are so good. Once we all slide in it together, there’s protection in numbers.

It’s so true that you don’t pick the family that you’re born into — you don’t choose them. But you can choose a family outside of that to hold on to. All of these women are loners to a degree. We are each other’s safety net and each other’s family.

Women, we come into this world, for the most part, having a nurturing spirit a nurturing energy. Even though Desna doesn’t have children, she’s a mother. That’s how she moves around. I feel like that’s how I move around. When I was in high school, my cheerleader sweater said, “Big Momma.” That’s what they called me. My peers said I acted like everybody’s mom. I was always that girl. When you put a group of women together and just let them be in their natural space, you will find that there ends up being some sort of connective tissue where we somehow just understand each other.

On What Defines a “Boss”
Being a boss and all of the connotations that come along with that title is a major theme in this season. From your perspective, what defines a boss?

With this particular job, I am for the first time in my career Number 1 on the call sheet, which means you’re the lead of a show. To me, to be a leading lady or a boss is defined as being somebody who people want to follow. You know what I mean? When you think about the most legendary being in the world, the Lord [Jesus] didn’t walk the earth and say, “Because I got the power, just do what I say. He loves you so good that people wanted to follow him. Ultimately, I also think that, for me, a boss is leaving people better than they were before they came into your presence.

I’ve never gotten a job and not gotten somebody else a job. I don’t play that game. If I’m eating, then somebody else I know is going to eat. I’m going to bring you in some capacity, as a PA, a writer, or an actor. My whole thing is to be of service in the world. I wrapped When They See Us, and immediately said, How can I serve? I became an ambassador for the Innocence Project. I try and lead by example, though I’m not perfect. To me, owning the truth of who you are and what you want to do, and are willing to do is what makes you a boss.

Claws currently stars Niecy Nash, Carrie Preston, Judy Reyes, Karrueche Tran, Jenn Lyon, Jack Kesy, Kevin Rankin, Jason Antoon, Evan Daigle, Suleka Mathew, Harold Perrineau, and Dean Norris. Last season, the series reached 33.6 million total viewers and ranked among the top 10 cable dramas with viewers aged 18–49 and the top 20 with total viewers.

Claws returns for Season 3 on Sunday, June 9, at 9 p.m. ET/PT.

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