Ashley Nicole Black interview: ‘A Black Lady Sketch Show,’ ‘The Amber Ruffin Show’
Ashley Nicole Black is competing with herself at the upcoming Primetime Emmy Awards. The writer/performer is double nominated for Best Variety Writing as part of the teams of both “The Amber Ruffin Show” and “A Black Lady Sketch Show.” She has now amassed an impressive eight nominations and one win since 2016. The “Amber Ruffin” nomination was of particular excitement for Black, considering it only premiered last September. “It’s hard to break into getting nominated, especially in your first year, and all of those writers are people that I came up with in the Chicago comedy scene,” says Black in an exclusive new webchat for Gold Derby. “It’s extra exciting to see them recognized.” Watch the video interview above.
Black has been close friends with host Amber Ruffin for many years, so she’s keyed into her particular delivery and personality as a performer. “She’s so sweet and so loving and kind that she can truly say anything,” observes Black. “To me, as a writer, it becomes a challenge of how far can I push Amber’s ability to make anything charming.” Ruffin breaks down complicated topics on the show, often in the political sphere. “We have her explaining really complex histories on that show, but she just comes at it with such a warmth that you’ll sit down and watch her talk about anything,” adds Black. “That’s such a gift for a writer.”
Meanwhile, “A Black Lady Sketch Show” is even more involved for Black, not only writing sketches but starring as a main cast member. Black has developed a few recurring characters on the show, including Trinity the spy, a woman who goes virtually unnoticed because of her average appearance, and Ally, the ultimate hype woman who remains positive in any situation, sometimes to a fault. “A lot of times, Black women are portrayed in very narrow ways or there’s a few types of characters that you see over and over again, and a lot of times it’s a tragic figure,” explains Black. “In this show, we take those kinds of characters and celebrate them and make them funny and make them the drivers of the sketch.” This is part of why “A Black Lady Sketch Show” has found a dedicated audience, she offers.
As if Black weren’t busy enough, she also joined the writing team for the second season of the Apple TV+ comedy series “Ted Lasso,” which just landed 20 Emmy nominations. She describes her experience of working on “Ted Lasso” as a “lifesaver,” with the show’s positive spirit helped her through the height of quarantine. “It’s cool because you work with people — this is true on all three of these shows — and you watch them pour their heart into something because they want to affect people,” states Black. “It’s really meaningful to see them get that love back with all the great nominations.”