Renee Elise Goldsberry interview: ‘Girls5eva’
Wickie Roy started Season 2 of “Girls5eva” in album mode and ended it in relationship mode, a development that was as surprising to Renée Elise Goldsberry as it probably was to fans. “We did not see this coming. I, the actor, did not see this coming, but it’s pretty wonderful,” Goldsberry tells Gold Derby (watch the exclusive video interview above).
In the final two episodes of the season, Wickie meets and quickly falls for Sheawn (Chad L. Coleman), aka the Lunch Lord, whom she first tries to use as a “basic whisperer” to find out what the people like to improve her social media presence. He knows exactly what she’s doing and calls her out on it, and further disarms her by not being phased at all by her outrageous behavior. At one point, Wickie blurts out, “Why do I like you?!”
“In the beginning she’s using him, but when she falls in love, I think there’s something that he’s speaking to that feels really good to her. I think it’s the honesty and the fact that it feels good, and I think she just trusts that he loves her. It’s just so brilliantly funny, to start with Raya and trying to strategic date as much as possible and ending with the one person in the world that doesn’t seem like he could do anything for her but love her, I think, is beautiful,” Goldsberry says. “She’s very, very self-absorbed. I don’t think he lets her get away with it very much. I think the part of her that is very self-centered, I think, he also loves and he finds her hilarious.”
For an unapologetically ambitious diva like Wickie, this is also a new opportunity for her to find fulfillment in her personal life as things are going pretty well with Girls5eva now — the reunited girl group recorded their album and are hitting the road on their own, with the encouragement of the Lunch Lord. Goldsberry pinpoints the moment Wickie was ready to open herself up to love: after she embraced her “bad foot” in the second episode. “Sometimes we find love in life, it’s partly the person and partly us being ready to be loved, so I think what Wickie is recognizing that all the parts of her are vulnerable and I think that there’s a straight talking honesty to him that is charming to her.”
SEE Why ‘Girls5eva’ composer Jeff Richmond used a ‘different kind of palette’ for the band’s new (and still very funny) songs
Wickie entering what appears to be a serious relationship is also significant because, as Goldsberry notes, the singer has had no other identity outside of her career and her desperate pursuit to taste success again. Very little is known about Wickie’s upbringing and background, and we only got crumbs in Season 2.
“I think her entire identity was based on her talent and kind of what she believed was her rightful place in the world based on how talented she believes she is,” the Tony winner explains. “I think she is not just someone who’s talented who didn’t make it; she actually is someone who did make it and because of some bad choices and bad behavior could not sustain it. I think that might be almost a worst pain than having never made it. That’s what’s really unique about her. Out of all these girls, she does not have any other identity at least that we’ve seen on the show. We get to see in Season 2 something about her past. We get to learn her real name and a previous relationship that almost started but didn’t. But what we do not know is where she lived or that she’s invested in somebody else — we’ve heard that she has a mother — she doesn’t invest in anything but this [career] even when there was nothing to invest in, and when everyone moved on, she did not.”
Season 2 did reveal the origin story of, if not the name Wickie Roy, her competitive drive. As seen in a flashback with Goldsberry looking very much like a teen, braces and all, the artist formerly known as Lesley Wiggens competed on “Star Search” in 1995 but lost to Mario Cantone. “The greatest thing that defines her is her ambition. This was the moment when she knew there was nothing that could stop her,” Goldsberry states. “There are doubts in her mind now, but this was her first go for it, her first swing at bat, and that really moved me.”
It’s still unclear when Wickie landed on her stage name (Lesley Goldenbody is a big nope). “I actually think Wickie, although she’s got some bad habits, she’s very, very good at some things and one of them is picking a stage name. Wickie Roy. I think it’s amazing. If I had had her help, I might not be called Renée Elise Goldsberry,” she laughs. Until we find out where the moniker came from, Goldsberry is happy to presume that Wickie Roy is related to the Roys of
“Business Throne” “Succession”: “I’m gonna use until they tell me no.”