Niecy Nash talks Claws season 2, shooting intimate scenes, and her dream for the show

CLAWS — Photo by Rob Ector — Acquired Turner Press Site
CLAWS — Photo by Rob Ector — Acquired Turner Press Site /

It’s Claws day as season 2 of the TNT dramedy begins tonight! Along with the premiere, we bring you our final Claws Q&A with the queen herself, Niecy Nash. We discussed season 2, the work that goes into intimate scenes, and her dream for the show. 

As the head lady at the nail salon, Desna plays the role of mother to the ladies of Palmetto. She also is responsible for her brother Dean who is autistic since they grew up in the foster care system. In season one she thought she was getting out of a temporary deal with the Dixie Mafia to launder money but by the end of the season, she’s in deeper than ever before. Heading into season two, the mood shifts as Desna accepts that she’s a member of a crime organization and now has to make sure she’s taking care of her girls through the fire.

Off-camera, Niecy Nash plays a similar role for the ladies. As the lead, most of the weight of the success of the show falls on her shoulders. She addresses this during our interview along with other topics. Most notably, the logistics around her intimate scenes with Jimmy Jean-Louis, and the representation Claws brings for women in media.

Hidden Remote: With this being your first lead role, with as long as your career has been, how good did it feel to have Claws renewed for a second season? 

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Niecy Nash: Oh whaaaaaaaat!?! It was amazing, because you know, to be honest with you there is an inherent pressure when you’re African-American and a lead. Because if that show does not get renewed, it’s not going to not bear well on you. Even if it’s not your fault, it’s your fault. Then there will be about 4-5 years before they will give you another lead, typically, if that show fails. So I was micromanaging as much as I could because I wanted it to do well. Now that we have a season 2, my shoulders can come down a pinch. You know I feel like I can relax a little, because I’m like ok, wooo they can’t say nothing about me! They know I’m not the problem!

HR: With that said then, coming into the role, was that one of the things that you considered before taking it?

NN: Absolutely not. I’m up for a challenge. So I knew that was a risk but I’m always gonna bet on me.

HR: Alright, well I like that attitude. So with you being able to relax then, I talked to a few of the other ladies and they said that this season is much bigger and much crazier. Is that pretty accurate?

NN: They were dead on. Absolutely. You know in season 1 we leaned into the relationship between the girls, with Desna leading the charge, and the Dixie Mafia. At the end of the season, the Russian Mafia came in. So the Russian Mafia is huge in season 2, but now we’ve added the Haitian Mafia. So it’s the Dixie Mafia, the Russian Mafia, and the Haitian mafia. We got more mafias than you can shake a stick at.

HR: There’s a lot going on in Palmetto.

NN: I mean! It’s a lot going on in Palm-ghetto, as we lovingly call it.

HR: And the Russians are going to bring a new element of viciousness from what I can tell. How are the girls going to be dealing with that, and is it going to cause any strain on their relationships internally?

Niecy Nash
CLAWS — Photo Acquired Turner Press Site /

NN: Yeaaah. Desna ends up with a new Russian mentor. And it does cause some challenges between her and the girls because this woman is vying for Desna’s time and attention. So it messes with the status quo of the salon and the money laundering business.

HR: So in the first season, Desna spends most of her time trying to get out. In season 2, she’s going to be leaning in. How was that shift for you as an actress, as far as your approach to the character?

NN: Well, me personally, I felt like it’s about damn time! Because originally, season 1, she was going to lean in. Then we decided to stretch it a little further, and so here we are. Desna is not as bad as she’s gonna get, but she’s definitely on the path.

HR: Ok, so kind of a Walter White type of thing?

NN: Oh yeah.

HR: And I do think it added to the show that we got to see Desna spending the first season trying to get out, and the complications that it caused and how she dealt with them. So it’s going to take the show to the next level to see her start to lean in. I’m excited for that. Now besides all of the mafia stuff that’s going on, Desna also has a relationship developing with Dr. Ruval. Talk about that relationship and how we’re going to see that play out over the course of the season. 

NN: Welllll. You know, season 1 I had two lovers. Season 2 I think that I’ve found my good thing, only for us to find out at the end of season 1 that he’s the head of the Haitian Mafia. I enter in not knowing that. So I’m enjoying the ride, as many of us do, until the bottom falls out. So I’m on the ride right now having a good time but I really don’t know the truth about who he is. So it’s going to be interesting to watch her fall in love with a bad boy, another bad boy.

HR: Without even knowing it. 

NN: Without even knowing it. Oh yeah.

HR: I can only imagine the drama when that does come out because she came from a situation where she knew she was with a bad boy. Now she thinks she’s out of that life only to find out that she’s not. I can only imagine how that’s going to rock her world. 

NN: Babyyyyyy. Get ready, get ready.

HR: Now you mentioned in other interviews that you had to do some intimate scenes, and I talked to Jimmy yesterday…

NN: Ohhh noo! (long laugh)

HR: And he talked about that as well. It’s a difficult thing to navigate so what steps did you two take to make sure everybody was comfortable in those moments?

NN: Well first of all let me just say Jimmy is wonderful. He’s super respectful. So the way I like to work is to take the actor into the set where the scene is going to happen. Just myself and that person. Work out the choreography. With clothes on! You know, I’m gonna put my arm here, you’re gonna put your leg there. So you know we kinda worked the beats out, and then I’ll call the director in and say: “Are you ok with this?” You know, because we have to make sure that the way they shoot it makes sense for the coverage.

Niecy Nash
CLAWS — Photo Acquired Turner Press Site /

Then on the day of, ya know. (laugh) You put on your modesty bits and uh… It’s not easy because something that is typically reserved for you, behind a closed-door in private, a simulation of that happens in front of a room full of people. Not a room full of people but a lot of people. More people than would be th… listen! You may have up to seven people or so, and not to mention the directors and people behind the monitors so you are not alone. In the words of Michael Jackson. You are not alone.

HR: Right and was there anything that came up that caused any complications or after you worked out the choreography was it pretty smooth from there?

NN: Well the interesting thing about that is that you never know how another actor is in that setting until you’re actually doing it. You know, I don’t know you (laugh) so I don’t know how you are in an intimate setting. You just have to kinda feel your way through it and be like ok are you comfortable with this, is this ok, is that ok. You know, so there’s a lot of stop-start. It’s not as glamorous… it’s the most un-glamorous part, I think, of filming but if you do it right you make people think it is so real. If you do it right.

HR: And I’d imagine there has to be a balance there because if you’re a passionate person, it’s hard not to bring that to that type of scene. 

NN: Absolutely, especially if you want to make it look real. So it is leaning into that part of it, but still being respectful. I mean we both have spouses at home. You know, it’s not like we’re out here in these streets living our best single lives. You know what I mean?

HR: And that adds another layer to it. 

NN: That adds another layer to it. We both are married and we both have children. But I have to say, first and foremost that I’m always going to stand in protection of my marriage. The other thing that I will say is that I am happy that I get to represent a single black woman, in television right now, who is having sex for her own pleasure. And I appreciate the fact that I’m not a small girl so I’m representing for the thick women, the women over 40, the women who are not married, the women who don’t have any children. You know, and I’m happy to be the sexual brand ambassador for those women!

HR: And that’s one of the beautiful things about the show is that there’s so many characters that you don’t see elsewhere in media. I feel like you ladies are at the forefront of bringing some of that diversity to the screen and letting different groups feel represented. These characters feel very real to me and I think that’s something special. 

NN: Well thank you very much. We definitely are a mixed pot, you know, but it doesn’t feel forced. We also create an environment on the show where your sexual appetite… we don’t shine a flashlight on that in any way to embarrass or make fun of, or to be mean towards you at all. It’s like whatever your sexual proclivity is as a character is your own. It can go unmentioned for quite a while because we are concerned less about what happens behind your closed-door, and more about can we get this money? And can we all make it home safe at the end of the day.

Niecy Nash
CLAWS — Photo Acquired Turner Press Site /

HR: Which is usually reserved for male roles so it’s great that your show is changing that dynamic and I think that’s something that helps this show stand out and will, hopefully, make it last. You’ve mentioned in other interviews that you’d like to get into directing. Is there any chance we see you directing an episode of Claws?

NN: I think there’s a 100% chance of that. I think there’s a very, very high probability that that’s going to happen. I mean you know, sometimes I think it’s easier if you direct somewhere else and [something where] you’re not in it. You know but sometimes you don’t have the luxury because you’re at work all the time. So we’ve gotta figure out the best way to make that happen.

HR: Well I’m definitely hoping to get to see you behind the camera at some point. I’d be remiss not to mention you getting your own star on the walk of fame. I know that this is something you mentioned that you spoke into the universe at an early age, so how good does it feel to finally have it happen?

NN: Man I tell you what, God is kind and that man may be a lot of things but he is not a liar. And the way my faith is set up… the things I know are going to happen just always happen. They just happen in his time. So I feel very blessed.

Next: Claws Interview: Carrie Preston

HR: Amen, and congratulations. Final thought, what is your dream for Claws? When it’s all said and done what do you hope to have accomplished with the show?

NN: Oh my goodness. What I hope to accomplish with this show, is to create a platform where women see themselves. All different kinds of women. And that they see themselves in a different type of light on television. That they see that we can lead the charge and do the things that were typically reserved for men but we can do them and still be just as badass as they are. I hope that we create a genre that is a little more of a hybrid between comedy and drama. I feel like we really walk the line between both. You laugh and you cry. So the scenes between myself and Harold Perrineau, who plays my brother Dean, are heartbreaking sometimes. And then you have some of the other things that happen that are laugh-out-loud funny. So I just hope that more people find the show, and find it as entertaining to them as it is to us.

The wait is finally over as Claws season 2 begins tonight at 9/8 Central on TNT.