Niecy Nash was in bed late one Sunday evening earlier this year when she got a frantic call from her team of reps: “The Masked Singer” host Nick Cannon had tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of production for Season 5. Would she be available to fill in?
“I was like, ‘you had me at hello,'” Nash tells Variety. “Of course, my immediate thought was, ‘Is Nick Cannon OK?’ And after that I was like, I would love to. And then two days later, there I was.”
Now, as her time guest hosting “The Masked Singer” is likely winding down — Wednesday is the fifth episode of Season 5, which means Cannon’s return should be coming shortly — Nash says she had a blast. “It’s a really good time. I mean, it involves a lot of the things that I like: music, costumes, sequins, eyelashes and comedy. All of my favorite things.”
Nash was already well acquainted with the show, having served as a guest judge last season on “Masked.” And she’s no stranger to hosting, having won a Daytime Emmy for “Clean House.” The “Masked Singer” gig came at an opportune time: Due in part to the pandemic, she had a break in her schedule.
They called when a lot of the jobs were still shut down,” says Nash. “And I was able to complete that work before I started work on ‘Monster,’ the Jeffrey Dahmer story.”
But Nash had also recently broken her ankle, and this was her first job after recovering from that incident. “So I was very happy with the first show when they carried me out,” she says. “I was like somebody loves me, because I wasn’t walking too well with heels. So they carried me out the first time. And then the second time when you see me walk out, I walk like a baby deer, but I still made it!”
Nash says her ankle is better: “I am faring along. Not 100%, but I am much better.” Nash is now filming “Monster,” in which she plays Glenda Cleveland, a neighbor who tried contacting authorities about Dahmer (played by Evan Peters) and his bizarre activities.
“It’s wickedly beautiful,” Nash says of the Netflix series, which reunites her with executive producer Ryan Murphy, having starred on his series “Scream Queens.” “I mean, we are telling a very very hard story, and doing it to the best of our ability. But the scripts, I read the scripts and I’m literally like, oh my God I am so grateful that I’m a part of this storytelling.”
Meanwhile, Nash’s latest gig, as host of the 32nd annual GLAAD Media Awards, set to stream April 8 on YouTube and Hulu, is perhaps her most personal.
“My favorite artist of all time is performing,” says Nash, referring to her spouse, Jessica Betts, who is confirmed to sing on the show.
Nash has already filmed her portions of the special. “I am so happy to be a part of what I lovingly now know is called community,” Nash says of signing up to host the GLAAD ceremony. “It is virtual, but you still feel all the love and all the connection. We’re going to make it the best show we can with the guidelines we have to go by.”
Nash married Betts in August, and she has been open and honest about her story. “Let me be clear about something: I didn’t come out,” she says. “For me, I went in. It wasn’t as if I was living this life and I really don’t want to be with these men I’m married to. I loved everybody who I was married to, until I didn’t. And being in a space or a place to allow yourself to receive love in any form and however it comes is what I opened myself up to. … Who I love and where I lay my head is always going to be up to me. I just feel like I’m not built to live a lie. Because I love out loud, I live out loud. That’s my best place.”
Jumping from hosting to comedy to drama, Nash marvels at this stage of her career: “The wonderful thing about it is that you can be 50 and still bloom.”