On Tuesday afternoon, Cynthia Nixon vowed to fight for stricter gun-control laws, stand up for black voters, and support the legalization of marijuana in her first national TV interview since declaring her candidacy for governor of New York.
But what made the interview unique wasn’t what Nixon said. It was where she said it — on “The Wendy Williams Show,” during a 13-minute conversation due to air on Wednesday.
Appearing before a crowd of several hundred women in a loft-like studio in downtown Manhattan, Nixon was game to tackle serious and light questions on a daytime program that’s better known for celebrity news and gossip.
Williams proved that she could grill a political candidate with the same ease as her dishy conversations about the Kardashians or Tiger Woods. The host asked Nixon, who starred in “Sex and the City,” about the challenges associated with taking on Andrew Cuomo, a two-term Democrat.
“It is tough,” Nixon said. “People talk a lot to me about being a celebrity entering this race. I have to say, when Andrew Cuomo ran eight years ago, he was a celebrity because he was the son of Mario Cuomo.”
“Touche!” Williams said.
It’s not uncommon for politicians to appear on daytime talk shows to reach voters. In 2007, as a fledgling presidential candidate, Barack Obama stopped by “The Tyra Banks Show.” Hillary Clinton has been a repeat guest on “The View” and “Ellen.” And Donald Trump made an appointment with “Dr. Oz” in 2016.
“As ‘Wendy’ is a topical, daily show, we are always looking to book guests who are buzzworthy and in the news,” the show’s executive producer, David Perler, told Variety. “We don’t normally book political guests, but Cynthia is a special case of politics intersecting with our hot topics.”
The interview started with Nixon showing off her heels from designer Paul Andrew on the program’s trademark “shoe cam,” before diving into more substantial topics. “It’s really fun to dress up, but if you saw me in my every day life, I don’t quite look like this,” Nixon said.
Throughout the exchange, the Emmy and Tony-winning actress tried to make the case for why she’s the best person to lead the state. “Well, I love New York,” Nixon said, to a cacophony of cheers (“yaas!” screamed someone in the studio). “I believe so much in New York and I believe that we’re a real progressive bastion, and I have to say, the election of Donald Trump was a real wake-up call. If we don’t like the direction our government is going in, we have to step up.”
Williams brought up the death of Stephon Clark, an unarmed 22-year-old black man who was shot and killed by police in Sacramento, Calif. “Is this a black man thing?” Williams asked.
“Yes, I think it is,” Nixon said. She criticized politicians for not speaking enough about these tragedies. “If we are going to say black lives matter, we have to mean it.”
“How do black women help you become governor?” Williams asked.
“They are the cornerstone, they are the backbone of the Democratic Party and we need to let them lead,” Nixon said. “Black women are going to stop showing up for the Democratic Party if the Democratic Party doesn’t show up for them.”
Nixon struck an approachable tone in her interview. Williams noted that her fiery hair color associated with her character Miranda from “Sex and the City” had changed.
“The red is long gone,” Nixon said. “I’m sorry. It’s a Miranda thing. I’m a blonde with a little help these days.”
There was discussion about Nixon attending the gun-control rally March for Our Lives in Manhattan with her family two weeks ago. “I think we’re at a real watershed moment now,” Nixon said. She added that although New York has “good laws here,” they could be tougher. “There’s such an appetite for real progressive change in New York State,” Nixon said.
She also highlighted her support for the recreational use of pot. “I’m absolutely for the legalization of marijuana,” Nixon said. “Let’s capture some of that revenue.”