TNT’s Claws may be set in a cute nail salon in South Florida, but this motley crew serves up way more than gel manicures and acrylic tips. This cast of characters, including Judy Reyes (as Quiet Ann), Niecy Nash (as Desna) and Karrueche Tran (as Virginia) are bound by sisterhood and a life of crime. And every time the ladies of the Nail Artisan of Manatee County try to get out, they get pulled back in.
We caught up with Reyes to talk about her must-watch show, working with another great cast of women after Devious Maids, and why she desperately misses the Big Apple.
Your character Quiet Ann seems mysterious and tough. Is that a fair description?
She’s extremely loyal to these women who are her family. She’s lucky with the ladies, if you know what I mean—[laughs]—loving and compassionate. She’s an ex-con and an academic as well and her past and her history will unfold. Desna, who is Niecy Nash’s character [and owner of the salon] was there for her. The way she is, is definitely a choice based on her past.
In the first episode, Ann doesn’t speak but we feel all of her emotions, especially in the scene where she’s dancing with the broom in the nail salon. How did you make that look easy?
It’s fucking hard. [Laughs.] To play it with as little words as possible is a true challenge… It’s a timely opportunity to play someone from the LGBTQ community, and my commitment is to perform and deliver it authentically for the women who are friends of mine, and for the women who I grew up with and Latinas. The inspiration comes from them. It’s kicking my ass in a lot of ways. Eliot Laurence, who wrote the pilot, is brilliant. [In the first episode] he used La Lupe’s “La Tirana” and I couldn’t believe this guy knew this song!
The Claws cast is so diverse. What do you enjoy about this group of women?
They’re awesome: creative and talented. I have been extraordinarily blessed to jump from one all-female lead cast in Devious Maids to another. I can’t be more fortunate. Niecy Nash, Jenn Lyon, Carrie Preston, and Karreuche Tran are just blowing the fuck up on this. And they are all real women, the sizes, the beauty, and what they’re bringing to their roles. It’s such a great school to be around, in front of and behind the camera.
Your acting credits span everything from Oz to Law & Order to Jane the Virgin. Have casting directors ever tried to typecast you?
I still get people who say, “Oh, my God, I just binge-watched Scrubs!” Who has the opportunity to have a show for eight seasons, right? But as a result of that people want the sassy assistant and I had the opportunity to do that well, but with Claws, it’s completely different. I’ve had the incredible good fortune to work consistently, but it’s about stepping outside of the box. That requires an extraordinary amount of work and artistically it is painful. There’s a comfort zone that yields work, a job after a job after a job. And there’s a level of dissatisfaction creatively, but you have to find your balls. You have to do that for yourself and it’s really scary.
You’re a Bronx-born chica residing in Cali. Do you ever miss the East Coast?
I desperately miss New York. Two of the actresses on Claws, Jenn Lyon and Carrie Preston, both live in New York, and they’re constantly talking about theater. I’ve been away from it for so long that it feels like another language and it makes me feel sad and a little jealous that I don’t know what they are talking about anymore—because it’s like, “oh this is what’s going on Off-Broadway and did you see this actor?”… My hubby is from New Jersey and my in-laws are still there, so I still get back three to four times a year so my daughter can see her grandparents.
And what about Dominican comida?
I gotta get that plantino and rotisserie chicken and Mangú. My mom lives in Atlanta and when I go there she cooks for me. I love a good bacalao in the morning!
Catch Judy Reyes on Claws on Sundays At 9P Only On TNT!