Although she first rose to prominence as an actor, on Reno 911, Niecy Nash has made a career out of her personality -- whether she's hosting (Clean House), competing (Dancing with the Stars) or letting the cameras into her home (Wedding Bash), Niecy the person long ago eclipsed Niecy the actress. And her fans have been laughing right along.
Tonight she returns to reality TV with the premiere of TLC's Leave It To Niecy, and her whole family is coming along for the ride! The eight episode series chronicles what happens after "I Do" as Niecy and husband Jay Tucker attempt to merge their families and celebrate their "Do Over." I caught up with Niecy and Jay to talk all about this journey, what separates their show from all the others and why Jay's ignorance of Niecy's career is a good thing.
Insider.com: Did you set forth any rules when planning to do this reality show?
Niecy Nash: The only rule we said was that this is all about bringing reality back to reality TV, so don't write anything for me, please don't come with a script. please don't come with your idea of what's good for my family.
Jay Tucker: And we're not sensationalists, so don't expect anything like that from us.
Niecy: We got jokes!
Insider: What makes your show different from other family reality shows, like The Osbournes?
Niecy: We are a very funny and entertaining family to ourselves, so it was interesting that other people found us funny and entertaining. My mother is also a part of the show and whenever we're on camera together, people say it's magical. She is so funny. But we're a different kind of funny than all those other shows.
Jay: We're just trying to blend our families, live our lives and move forward to a place of love. The cameras have come along to view that – there's no scripting, there's no rehearsing. They're watching our real life unfold in real time.
Insider: Did you find that the cameras helped or hurt in the blending process?
Niecy: We feel like they help. We are purposed to blend our families, with or without the camera. So it was almost like we said, "This is what we’re doing, you're welcome to come along." Normally, I would have to leave my family to go to work but because we have the opportunity to work together, it has made it better.
Jay: And it gives the kids a chance to see her in action.
Niecy: They think all I am is a great weave and eyelashes! I'm more than that! It's difficult because people think my job is glamorous. My middle girl told me the other day that this process is exhausting for her. So now they know when I come home, that despite looking gorgeous, I'm exhausted!
Jay: To understand truly what mommy does becomes a bonding experience in and of itself.
Insider: Jay, how aware of Niecy's career were you when you first started dating?
Jay: I knew of her, I just didn't know about her body of work.
Niecy: He wasn't into my body of work, he was into my body [laughs] This just goes to show he didn't marry me because of who I am. He barely knew who I was.
Insider: Have you gotten used to her world?
Niecy: Some of his friends jokingly call him, "Mr. Hollywood" [laughs].
Jay: I'll be on a conference call talking about business and they'll always slide in something they saw about us online or on TV. Now I'm Mr. Wonderful, Mr. Wife Swap. Mr. Hollywood. There's a lot of nicknames but I take them in stride.
Insider: So do you two believe in the idea of "Opposites Attract?"
Niecy: The key reason why it works is because being a celebrity is my "do" it's not my "who." Who I am is completely grounded in the truth and the desire to want to make him happy.
Jay: When Niecy and I first started dating, we talked about how our lives were so different. Falling in love with Niecy, I knew what I was getting into. But I love supporting her in something she loves to do.
Niecy: And that's the key right there – I didn't marry a man who wanted to be an actor. This is not his first choice for a job. It's not even his second choice for a job. But he loves me and we are both passionate about what our message is as a couple, which is about a return to love. It's about a second chance. It's about celebrating your do-over. These days, it's old fashioned to just be married once. If you're going to be "New School," you need to be on your second or third marriage.
Leave It to Niecy premieres March 25 at 10 p.m. on TLC.