If you play the word association game with me and say the name “Nikki DeLoach” I would use every nice, sweet, bubbly and personable adjective I could think of with my TV-addled brain. Not only is DeLoach part of the stellar cast of MTV’s Awkward, but as a human? She’s aces. (Which is a phrase she has tweeted that she’s trying to bring back, and I obviously support this movement.)
On the show, DeLoach plays Lacey Hamilton, a young Mother to teen daughter, Jenna, who is the complete opposite of the bubbly, popular persona that Lacey is. (Which isn’t to say that I don’t also love the introverted Jenna. She’s practically this generation’s answer to Angela Chase. It’s only taken us how many years to find another one?) I had the chance to talk with DeLoach about her favorite TV Mom’s, who wrote the letter, and the Awkward season 1 finale! You’re going to find that this is an upbeat, honest interview, and there are even some hints to possible spoilers!
Nikki DeLoach Interview for Awkward Season 1
As we go into the Awkward season 1 finale tonight on MTV, I cannot wait to find out who wrote the letter to Jenna. And I also cannot wait for Awkward season 2!
There’s some diversity in ages and genders, but what do you think most Awkward fans have in common?
I think that most Awkward fans share in the joy of the authenticity, and the heart of the show. I think there are three elements: I think it is authentic, I think it has a lot of heart, and I think that it makes people laugh.
It makes me laugh.
At any age, that’s the magic combination.
Yes, correct. You solved the puzzle!
I finally figured it out! (Laughs) I really honestly believe that Lauren (Iungerich) went into this series writing what was real for her, and writing from a place of her high school experience. And inside each one of us, even boys, there is a fifteen year old girl. There is a fifteen year old girl who has her heart broken and who is insecure sometimes, and is trying to figure out how to stand up for herself or himself, and is trying to navigate their life and figure out where they belong and where they fit in and who they are. And I think that Lauren just executes that so brilliantly on the show in such a genuine way which is why people of all ages are tuning in.
If you were hosting a big TV Mom convention – which could happen!- what other TV Mothers from the past or present would you want to invite?
Oh, that’s great! Let me think really quick… So, right now. Let’s talk about Modern Family and Julie Bowen’s character. I would definietly want her to be there because she just seems A) like a cool chick and B) I think that she’s such a brilliant actress. Let’s see…Lucille Ball in The Lucy Show. She was a single TV Mom in that show and she’s just incredible. Who else… Clair Huxtable! From The Cosby Show. Wouldn’t that be great? Oh, I also love the Mom on the Gilmore Girls. Oh, what’s her name?
Lorelai Gilmore? Lauren Graham?
Yes, I love, love, love her. I thought she did such a great job.
Someone actually said that your character is a lot like Lorelai Gilmore from the Gilmore Girls.
She is. Man, from your lips to God’s ears that I’ll have her career. She’s wonderful. But yea, off the top of my head, I’d say those ladies.
If Lacey penned a Guide to Motherhood, what sort of advice do you think she’d include?
I think that she would definietly put something in there about always putting your best foot forward in terms of how you look. She would probably say something like “Pretty people are happy people.” (We both erupted into some giggles.) …Which is awful! But she’s very concerned with looks. She has nothing to do all day except for get in her daughter’s business, look pretty, work out and tan… so I think she would definitely have something in there about being really pretty. I think she would… she’s pretty bold. I think in one of the episodes she advised her daughter to be bold, and then she proceeded to give her a really inappropriate shirt that she “could wear without a bra.” So, she’d say to be bold.
I think Lacey is also a person who would encourage her daughter to stand up for herself. And…with boys. I think she would also tell her daughter – she’s not all fun and games – so I think she would tell her daughter that as far as boys are concerned: don’t boys treat you badly and honor yourself.
There’s some good mothering there.
Yea, because there is that part of her. In the Lil Bitch episode where Lacey’s best friend comes into town. She’s really upset about the drugs and afraid of Jenna turning out like Lacey did. So I think that Lacey is very concerned – or getting very concerned as the series goes on – with the kind of mother that she is. So I think that a lot of season 2 will be her exploring and trying to be the best mother that she can be with the very little tools that she has.
And this actually segues perfectly…. Because when it comes to the infamous letter written to Jenna, my theory is that it was written by her Mother, your character! Because the letter isn’t just a mean, horrible “go jump off a cliff” kind of thing. So, what do you think? Is it possible that Lacey could have written it?
I honestly think it’s possible that anyone on the show could have written the letter. I think it’s possible that any character on the show, or maybe even a character that we don’t know about wrote the letter. And that’s a testament to the genius writing of Lauren. She created all these characters where, whether they’re coming from a good place or a not-so-good place, they all could have written the letter. I think all of us will be sitting there – you me, all of us – waiting to find out.
Do you know, right now, who wrote it?
Very, very, very few people know about who wrote the letter. It was literally a closed set (when those scenes were filmed.) So I think we’ll all be sitting there on the night, just waiting with baited breath.
And luckily there will be a second season. How did you celebrate when you heard the news?
Well, I didn’t go out and buy a car or anything like that. (Laughs.) Honestly… I saw a bunch of the cast shortly after we got picked up for one of our live tweets, and that was a celebration to me. All of these people are so grateful to have this job, and not just a job… but to be able to play these amazing characters and work with such incredible writers…. And to get picked up for a second season… I have to say…. I’ve been in this business for 20 something years and this is the first time outside of The Mickey Mouse Club that I have been able to do a second season on a show. I’ve done many first seasons, and I’ve done many pilots, but this is a first for me. So, just being able to be with the cast, and celebrate with them, that, to me, was the real celebration.
You’ve mentioned your past. And with a background in mainly dramatic acting, I’m really curious – were you nervous to try on a comedic role?
Yes! Yes, and I would be lying if I said that I wasn’t. I was absolutely very nervous because most of my background has been in drama. But you know what what, many years ago I decided to go study acting at this amazingly wonderful place called Warner Loughlin Studios. I went there specifically to study comedy. And I had no idea that I’d come across this incredible acting technique that would help my dramatic and comedic chops. But I mainly went there to study comedy. And my teacher, Warner Loughlin, we focused on it every single week.
So by the time Awkward came along and I actually got the job, I remember looking and saying, “Am I ready for this? Can I do this?” And she was like, “Sweetie, you have been working hard, you are ready for this.” And still, every day you come to set is a challenge. Every script … you wanna find the funny. So, every day is a challenge. But to tell you the truth that is exactly what I was looking for in my life and my career. I was looking for something really challenging and that, at the end of it, I would look back on it and know that I could do anything. If I could do that, if I could play the mother of a fifteen-year-old and make it feel genuine and authentic and funny at the same time, then there’s nothing I can’t do. I just feel so blessed that I was given the opportunity to do that.
I would have thought you were doing comedy forever if I didn’t know otherwise. You really pop on the screen. And that’s what’s great about the show, every character is just so perfectly cast and perfectly written that there’s never a scene that seems lacking.
Everyone is so great. And that is our writers delivering amazing scripts every week. And also the actors. We have some great comedians on this show. Molly (Tarlov) who plays Sadie is so funny. And Desi (Lydic) is a comedian. And Jilly (Jillian Rose Reed) and Jessica (Lu). They are all so funny. They’re all so good, so I felt like I had to work extra hard to meet their standards.
Aw! You know, you are so sweet on Twitter, how you reach out to people.
Honestly we are all so grateful, so unbelievably grateful that you’re watching the show and tweeting about it. We would not have a job, we would literally not have a job or a show without you guys. So the most important aspect of what we do is hoping the audience will love it and it’ll find a place in their hearts and they’ll love it enough to talk about it. And that’s what you did, so thank you for that.
Thank you! And now… (sings a drumroll) dun dun a dun!
(Sings the same drumroll) Dun dun a dun!
I know you can’t say a lot, but what should fans expect from the season 1 finale?
Okay, yea. I can’t tell you everything.
Oh – you’re not gonna fax me the script?!
Well, wait a second! What is a fax noise? … Eerrer! (Makes fax machine noises.) Well, that’s a poor fax machine noise…
I can hint to a few things. There’s a lot of loose ends that we have to tie up. Like, what’s gonna happy with the Matt/Jake/Jenna situation. What’s gonna happen with that? I can’t tell you if there will be a resolution. But there will be some sort of conclusion. And then, as far as the letter, we will all find out together.
One thing I’d like to hint about for Lacey and Jenna is that there is this moment in the final episode where Lacey finally realizes that she wants to be a better mother than her mother was to her. And she realizes what a tremendous gift that she has in her daughter. And there is this beautiful scene between Lacey and Jenna. It’s my favorite scene of the entire season. I hope people love it as much as I do because I think every daughter no matter what age, longs to have this moment with her Mother. And Lauren wrote it so beautifully. And I hope everyone likes it.
The following was going to introduce this interview, but I decided that I’d hide it down here so you guys could focus on the interview and read this part only if you had no new cute cat pictures to look at online.
No matter how many interviews I do, I still manage to find anxiety swimming in my gut as I approach each new interview opportunity. Sure, I’m a professional. …A professional that both hand writes and types out her questions (in case of a computer malfunction, power outage, or zombie apocalypse), uses a stress ball during conference calls, and adheres to a strict ritual of meditation before jumping into interaction with an interviewee. And, yes, I’m always aware that I’m not the one even being put on the spot to answer any questions. But, I’m a Type A, anxious writer and that’s just how I do things. And I wouldn’t be telling you this much embarrassing ammunition about myself if I didn’t have a point… Which we’re getting to!
So, uh, I’ve set the scene. I’m usually nervous for interviews. Except, I wasn’t as nervous when it came to interviewing Nikki. And the reason for that is a credit to her.
Prior to the interview, I had written a piece some of you may have read. It’s called 10 Reasons to Watch Awkward on MTV Even if You’re not a Teenager. DeLoach was kind enough to tweet a link to that piece to her followers, which is ot to mention that she took the time to read it – a huge honor. So, we connected and had a very nice MTV press person (thank you, Rayna) to set us up to talk. In-between this time I tweeted back and forth with DeLoach, watched Awkard (of course) and also read interviews with her done by some of my writing peers. In everything, she projected sweetness, friendliness and enthusiasm.
Instead of being guarded or jaded, she is open and welcoming… like an older sister opening her elusive closet and saying “sure, come on, you can wear my favorite shoes for one night!” It put me at ease and I was able to feel confident in the questions I had prepared. Plus, she is unstoppable with compliments as she heaps compliments on the fans, cast members, and the writers! And as a writer (or as I refer to myself – a “writer”) I always feel a community “win” when good writers get appreciation.
If you follow Small Screen Scoop you know that I’ve talked with various famous names – George Lopez, Heidi Klum, John Goodman. But this was one of the best interviews I’ve ever taken part in, and I think that says a lot. And since it says so much, I’m going to stop talking now!
So what was the point of this fake Epilogue? I just really want you to walk away with an appreciation for Nikki and for Awkward. Watch the show. It’s good. I would know, ’cause watch enough TV to tell the difference.
Find Nikki DeLoach on Twitter: Here
Be sure to tune in to MTV on Tuesday night at 11:30 PM EST for an all new episode of Awkward!