Niecy Nash on Playing A Rea Life Heroine and The Mindset it Took

Credit: @niecynash1

Niecy Nash is no stranger to fame. She’s been in the game since 1995, after all. Nearly 30 years of acting and being a television star teaches you a thing or two about filming, and she’s a professional through and through. However, this is one famed actress who went from comedy to hosting to acting in primetime television shows such as Reno 911. Her life has been all about being larger than life with her personality and making her fans laugh. She’s not accustomed to taking on dark roles, especially ones that are inspired by a true story. When Niecy Nash was cast in the Netflix series about Jefferey Dahmer, titled Dahmer, she knew it would require a lot more from her than she had previously given. What do we mean?

Niecy Nash Portrays Glenda Cleveland

Jeffrey Dahmer is a man who was killed in prison while serving numerous life sentences after he was convicted of the murder, assault, and dismemberment of 17 young men – and who knows if there might be more – from the late 1970s until the early 1990s. Glenda Cleveland is a woman who died in 2011, but she died a hero. She is the woman who worked to stop Jeffrey Dahmer in the 1990s. She called the police after her own daughter and niece saw a naked, terrified young man running from Dahmer – and her call should have stopped the killer in his tracks months earlier than he was stopped.

Unfortunately, the Milwaukee police didn’t believe her over Dahmer, and they let him go. Following her initial phone call – she made many to keep the police aware – he killed the young man she initially called about, in addition to four more. Five young men’s lives could have been saved had the police only listened to Glenda Cleveland and her daughter and niece. The young boy they witnessed running from Dahmer was only 14. To make it even worse, if possible, that young boy’s brother was the 16-year-old boy that Jeffrey Dahmer was found guilty of sexually assaulting three years prior. Instead, the police returned the boy to Dahmer, who told them that the young man was of age (he was 14) and he was drunk and mad at Dahmer – his lover.

Credit: @niecynash1

This Was the Most Challenging Role for Niecy Nash

Being part of this story was important to her – especially telling the story of Dahmer’s neighbor and the woman who continuously tried to put a stop to Dahmer’s killing spree. She knew she had to take on the role, but she also knew it would be difficult. She found it the most challenging thing she ever did. It was reported that Evan Peters, the man who portrays Dahmer in the series, stayed in character the entire time…this must have been chilling. Nash said of her time on set, “People ask, how did I make it through filming Dahmer? My love Jessica Betts was my rock. I was also filming Reno 911 at the same time; my daughter Dia is funny and was a bright light who brought me joy on set, and my girl Cardi B,” she said on her social media pages.

The talented actress also posted, “Dahmer was my most challenging job to date…had to lean into my joy HARD during the filming process. Thank you, Evan.” What she did to avoid the mental health issues that might come from filming something this dark and this ugly – and true – is looking for joy. It was not always easy for her, and we imagine that she’s not exaggerating about that in the least, but she did it. She found happiness where she could overcome the dark, and it worked for her.

She Wasn’t Always Joyful, Though

A job like this one takes a toll on a person. Telling the true story of a monster is difficult enough, but telling it from the eyes of someone who knew and wanted to help but was rebuffed is even more difficult. “There were many days I left set with tears in my eyes because of the weight of all these things happening and knowing that all of it didn’t have to,” she said. She plays a woman who knew this man was a bad man, and she plays this woman knowing now that her one phone call could have saved five men from torture and death. Her one call could have saved five families from the pain of losing a brother, son, uncle, husband, etc. It’s a lot of responsibility.

Credit: @niecynash1

If there is one thing we can say about Niecy Nash, we cannot imagine the difficulty she went through playing this character. However, we can also say that Glenda Cleveland did all she could. Nash called. She followed up. She continued to follow up. It was not, and it is not, her fault that the police did not listen. She did her job – and she did more than she had to.

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