She’s already been a star on The Real Housewives of Atlanta and a hilarious guest star on Glee, but tonight, NeNe Leakes (Coach Roz) will make her debut on yet another TV show. Glee creator Ryan Murphy is bringing the former reality star on board his new NBC comedy, The New Normal, where she’s set to play a character who is sassy, outspoken, and totally no-nonsense. Somehow, we think she’ll be up to the challenge.
Speaking exclusively with Wetpaint Entertainment at a Paley Center for Media event on September 5, NeNe dished about her “hilarious” new character, the “fabulous” clothes and accessories, and which of her scripted TV characters is most like her in real life.
How is your character on The New Normal different than Coach Roz on Glee?
Oh, Coach Roz! Rocky is so different, but they do have some similarities, but she’s different than Coach Roz. Coach Roz is a coach and she’s a synchronized swim coach and she’s in your face. They do share that. They are both very outspoken characters. So they share that but Rocky is a secretary. She’s protective over her gay boss. She’s living her new normal as well. She’s a little bit different from Roz but she’s still outspoken. That’s what I like about her. Oh and let me tell you this. Rocky gets to wear all the fabulous heels and clothes where Roz wore sweat suits.
So you’re more excited about the wardrobe on the set of this show?
I am. This is more my style.
Have you had a lot of fun fittings?
I’ve had a lot of fun fittings. We have fabulous shoes, fabulous jewelry, you know a girl likes to play so I like that.
Do you get to keep any of that?
No. Just bask in the glory of one episode and give it back to them.
What can we expect from Coach Roz on Glee Season 4? Are you going to be making more appearances?
I don’t know yet. They are keeping me in the dark. Ryan Murphy hasn’t said anything to me about it yet. I’m sure I’ll appear over there. I just don’t know when.
You’re working with him closely on this show now so you can bug him.
I generally don’t. This is not my style. I usually just go to work and if he wants me to come and do something, he’ll come ask me.
What else can you tell us about Rocky?
The New Normal is a great show. It’s a comedy. It’s about love. It’s about what’s probably not traditional to some people – doing something that’s not of the norm. Of course it’s about two fabulous gay guys who are looking for a surrogate to have their baby. I am the secretary and Ellen Barkin [Nana] is a racist outspoken…[mouths the word bitch] I’m just kidding. She’s great. I love her. She does it justice. If I didn’t know her, I’d think she was for real. She does a great job!
Does your character get in a lot of trouble during the episodes?
My character is hilarious and she’s funny. She’s outspoken and she doesn’t really take a whole lot of stuff but I get in trouble a little bit here and there.
How do you think you audience that’s seen you as Coach Roz on Glee is going to react to you in this role?
I think they’re going to love it. This is something totally different from Glee – the musical and the swimming and the coaching. This is something totally different. I think the fans and the viewers are going to absolutely love this show – at least we are very hopeful that they do. I think it’s funny. It’s dramatic. It’s about love. It’s about life and so I think they’re going to love it.
Which character of the two do you think is closer to your personality in real life – Coach Roz or Rocky?
Probably Rocky. She’s fabulous. She’s outspoken. And I’m both of those things.
The New Normal premieres Monday, September 10, at 10pm, and then moves to it’s regular date and time with an all-new episode the very next day: Tuesday, September 11 at 9:30pm on NBC. In addition, the full pilot is already available to watch early on Hulu.
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