Nia Peeples Plays Against Type in 'Pretty Little Liars': Exclusive Interview
So you’ll be blogging and people can follow your process?
Oh yes! Because by the time I am 50 I just want to BE. and that is in December of next year. I set that as a goal to reset the habits that I have in my life. I just want to reset them.
I have a confession. Looking back at when I used to watch you on the Fame TV series I realize I had a little crush.
[laughs] That’s so sweet! How cute!
photo credit: ABC Family
Also, when I told my co-worker, a gay man, that I was interviewing you, he just went berserk because he just loves your music. Do many fans still approach you about your work from back in the day in the 80’s?
Everyone wanted my hair and my earrings, and I think a lot of the guys wanted my shoes and my pants. [laughs] Absolutely!
And even though you are enjoying success with new projects, you don’t mind that people hold you in some ways to this era that is long gone?
Oh no. When I look back at that, and I used to say this to my gay guy friends when they would tell me they loved me, “You don’t love me, you want to be me!” [laughs] You know, with the hair and the heels – come on!
But I think that at that time, and in particular I think for the gay community, the 80’s was stylistically a time where we kind of were out there. Everything was big, and we were able to express ourselves in a big way. I think that was something. For the gay community, big was good. You wanted to be able to breath, and express yourself in any way. Quite frankly, whether you’re gay or heterosexual, you need to express yourself. And do it freely.
That brings me to your character Pam on Pretty Little Liars. Having grown up in Hollywood I would imagine you’ve been around gay people for most of your life. Now you’re playing this character struggling to deal with her daughter’s sexuality. Did you see that coming when you read the pilot? They eased into the gay storyline in the first couple of episodes.
No. Actually, the funny thing is, when I first read, I read for Aria’s mom, because at the time, I don’t think that they had the girls in place. They kept bringing me back for Aria’s mom, and then when they cast the girls, they went “obviously you should be Shay’s mom.”
That was some spot-on casting…
In the pilot episode I had one scene, and all I knew was that my hair and my clothing were terrible, [laughs] and I was really uptight. It was like “whoa, I’m having an identity crisis,” [laughs].
So yes, it was revealed very slowly, and I had a very difficult time in the first 10 episodes really getting a handle on who this woman is.
How did you propose to do that?
I have to find a common ground between Pam and Nia. I have to find a truth that exists in Pam that also exists in Nia, and then grow it from there. I just didn’t really know, I didn’t have her history.
Normally -- I have not played many recurring roles, I am usually a regular on a show. That means that they have done a lot of research on this woman, they have most of the questions already answered about who that character would be. So when I step foot, my first day, on the set I have all these questions answered.
It wasn’t that way with Pam. I was really struggling and fishing for why she was uptight because they couldn’t answer those questions. As they started to build in things like the fact that Pam’s husband was in the military, and high-ranking military, and the fact that he was gone all the time…
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