Niecy Nash-Betts Hopes ‘The Rookie: Feds’ Will Be Renewed: ‘I’m Happy for Little Black and Brown Girls to See Something That They Can Aspire to Be’

“The Rookie: Feds” remains on the bubble, as one of two shows at ABC awaiting news regarding a renewal — and its star, Niecy Nash-Betts, is crossing her fingers for a second season.

Nash-Betts has had an in-demand year, starring in Netflix’s “Dahmer – Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story” and hosting Fox’s gameshow “Don’t Forget the Lyrics,” in addition to headlining “The Rookie: Feds.” And she’s hoping to keep her busy schedule going, continuing to play her character, Simone Clark, on the ABC police procedural.

“I love my job so much, I love the people that I work with, and I love the fact that I get to work with my better half over there,” Nash-Betts says of her wife, musician Jessica Betts, who plays her love interest on “The Rookie: Feds.”

Speaking to Variety for her special Emmys Edition cover story about “Dahmer,” Nash-Betts says that her “The Rookie: Feds” character means a lot to her, but, more importantly, she means a lot to audiences watching.

“What I love about that particular character is that I have not seen her on mainstream television,” Nash-Betts says of her character Simone Clark, a Black woman who pursued her dream of joining the FBI at the age of 48, after raising her children. “I’m happy for little Black and brown girls to see something that they can aspire to be,” Nash-Betts adds. “Less than 1% of Black women make up the FBI. She’s a Black woman over 40 in the FBI. She’s not married. She’s an equal-opportunity dater, if you know what I mean. Like, who is this unicorn? If she were a real person, she would definitely be my homegirl. She’s in her second act and she is making the best of it.” 

“The Rookie: Feds” is the only hourlong broadcast series on ABC to be headlined by a Black actor. Ratings were modest in its first season, ranking eighth in total viewers among ABC’s ten drama series. “The Rookie: Feds” is a spinoff of the male-led, “The Rookie,” which ranks top of ABC’s dramas and has been renewed for another season.

As previously reported, a renewal decision on “The Rookie: Feds” will be made at a later time. ABC had no further comment on the fate of the show for this story. ABC has until the end of this month when cast options expire, but options can be extended. The network has bolstered its fall schedule with unscripted programming, as a result of the writers strike.

“I’m waiting with you, but I feel good about it,” Nash-Betts says, praising the team she works with on the show.

Speaking of the magnitude of her platform as a Black woman on network television, Nash-Betts talks about the first time she saw herself represented on-screen when she was a little girl. She recalls seeing Lola Falana when she was watching TV with her grandmother.

“I was five years old. I had seen Black people on television before, but I never saw a Black woman look like this. She was in red and her eyelashes looked like butterflies. She was so glamorous,” Nash-Betts reminisces, with a twinkle in her eye. “I said, ‘Grandmama, who’s that?’ She said, ‘Baby. That’s Lola — Lola Falana.’ My eyes crossed. I felt like in that moment, God stamped my destiny on the canvas of my imagination.”

She continues, “I looked at my grandmother and I said, ‘That’s what I want to be: I want to be Black, fabulous and on TV.’ That’s what I said and that was it. I knew it. I stopped answering to my name. If you didn’t call me Lola, you were not talking to me! I knew then I was going to look like that and I was going to be right there on that TV. And boom! I’m Black. I’m fabulous. And I’m on TV.”

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