What about the impact that your role as Nicole Chapman on the Fame TV series had young, aspiring performers? How did playing her change or shape your life afterwards?
There is definitely a difference in that role from many others I’ve played. Nicole was someone who was striving for a dream—that’s what Fame was about. People of all walks of life watched it. It was a huge international hit. Not because everybody wanted to put tights on and sing and dance; but because everyone has a dream. And to watch kids having the courage to pursue that gave them inspiration, hope, and courage, in whatever their dreams might be. Nicole was one of those kids who was doing that. So when I would run into fans of Fame, I understood the connection. They were connected to the inspiration that my character brought them. There’ve been other shows where people are lining up to see me, but there’s no relation to the importance of that character. It was just like, “Oh, dude, it’s the girl on the TV.” [Laughs]
How about the music-variety show you hosted, The Party Machine?
That show was brought to me. Arsenio Hall’s prime-time show was ginormous; and when he re-upped his deal over at Paramount, part of the deal was that he was going to be able to take the half hour after his show and do whatever he wanted with it as a producer. That’s when he called me, ’cause he was a big Nia Peeples fan. He said, “Look, let’s do something. I don’t care what it is, we’re gonna do this.” So, we ended up with this show; but nobody knew what the show was going to be. When he first contacted me, he said, “We’re gonna do three nights a week”—after his weekend jam—“and let’s do live artists,” more like an acoustic, unplugged setting, where you get to talk to the artists. Then, after I signed the contract, it turned into this six- nights-a-week thing where everybody’s lip-syncing. And I just went, “Aaah!” I was not thrilled with doing that show. I’m much better with it now than I was in the middle of it. It was so not Nia; Nia is so not a party person. I love to dance and I love music, but I’m not like, “Hey-Oh!” I’m just not that girl.
You’re not going out clubbing every night.