Nobody said success wouldn’t bring some trouble along with it, but getting killed in a fiery golf cart crash by Oprah Winfrey? That was the dilemma Claws star Niecy Nash told Conan O’Brien of on Wednesday’s Conan, as the Emmy-nominated actress explained just how she wound up in a hurtling Hawaiian recreational vehicle with Oprah’s “lead foot” behind the wheel. Nash might forever be beloved for her improv chops as Reno 911's unflappable Deputy Raineesha Williams, but the now three-time Emmy nominee has been striding ably into more dramatic roles since leavin the Reno Sheriff’s Department a decade ago, with her role as grieving mother Deloris Wise in Ava DuVernay’s Central Park Five series When They See Us scoring Nash a nod for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Movie. (Nash is next playing flamboyant real-life women’s rights activist Florynce Kennedy, battling Cate Blanchett’s anti-women’s rights woman Phyllis Schlafly in next year’s FX miniseries about the Equal Rights Amendment, Mrs. America. Which seems like a perfect fit, honestly.)
Not that anything about her When They See Us role was easy, as Nash explained how DuVernay’s lack of voicemail meant sliding into the acclaimed filmmaker’s DMs to put her hat in the ring for, as she put it, literally any role. She also said this was the first part she’s ever had where the production offered the actors crisis counselors, which Nash claims she used rather than other option, tequila, to work through the emotional stresses of playing a mother of a wrongly accused young son.
Plus there’s that whole “getting killed by Oprah” thing, which is what happens when Winfrey produces a project you’re in and invites you along to Maui for a dream vacation. Nash joked about quickly rooting through her already-packed luggage to remove her “ho clothes” in her illustrious host’s honor, before discovering that lead foot, as Oprah (taking the wheel, naturally) drove them through paradise at high—not to say reckless—speed. Still, there are benefits even to dying in Oprah’s company, as Nash—offering up a trusting “Oprah, take the wheel” in prayer—consoled herself with the thought that dying in a buggy accident with Oprah Winfrey would at least lend her some everlasting fame.