Niecy Nash-Betts hopes that Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story was able to provide comfort to the loved ones of the 17 victims murdered by the Milwaukee serial killer, despite several family members publicly condemning the series.
The actress, who played a fictionalized version of Dahmer's neighbor Glenda Cleveland, addressed the backlash surrounding the show and opened up about her own experience with loss after her 17-year-old brother, Michael Ensley, was killed in 1993.
"My brother was murdered on his high school campus. And you never forget," Nash-Betts told Variety. "You're reminded if you pass a cemetery, by a favorite song, a smell, memory, photo. If you have had a loved one die in a horrific way, it is going to be with you for the rest of your life, not just from a TV show, so the goal would be — how do people remember them?"
"Hopefully, there is some solace in us introducing your loved ones to the world, and not just having them just be a faceless, nameless person connected to this case," she continued. "That was what I prayed for."
Alberto Rodriguez/Getty Niecy Nash-Betts
Nash-Betts later admitted that she "didn't know much about Glenda's story or the victims" prior to joining the true crime series.
"What I appreciated about Ryan Murphy was that he said this story will not be told from his point of view. He really wanted people to see the collateral damage to these victims. And even though Glenda was not killed by Jeffrey Dahmer, she was, indeed, one of his victims."
Created by Murphy, the Netflix series stars Evan Peters as the infamous serial killer who murdered 17 men and boys from 1978 until his arrest in 1991. Since the series' release last September, the family members of multiple Dahmer victims have publicly rebuked Dahmer and its portrayal of the victims and their families.
Shirley Hughes, the mother of Tony Hughes, told The Guardian that "it didn't happen like that," adding, "I don't see how they can use our names and put stuff out like that out there." Errol Lindsey's sister, Rita Isbell, explained in an Insider essay that she was "never contacted about the show" prior to its release on the streaming platform either.
Netflix Niecy Nash plays Glenda Cleveland, Jeffrey Dahmer's next-door neighbor, in Netflix's 'Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story.'
"They didn't ask me anything. They just did it," Isbell wrote. After watching the show, she noted that "it bothered me, especially when I saw myself — when I saw my name come across the screen and this lady saying verbatim exactly what I said. It brought back all the emotions I was feeling back then."
In January, Hughes slammed the Hollywood Foreign Press Association for giving Peters the award for Best Actor in a Limited Series or Motion Picture Made for Television for his performance at the 2023 Golden Globes. "It's a shame that people can take our tragedy and make money," she told TMZ. "The victims never saw a cent. We go through these emotions every day."
During an event for the series last October, Murphy said that Dahmer's story was "something that we researched for a very long time" and that the production team had attempted to reach out to "around 20 of the victims' families and friends trying to get input, trying to talk to people and not a single person responded to us in that process."
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