‘Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story’ Star Niecy Nash Says The Show Shines “More Of A Light On The Victims Than It Is On The Killer”

Niecy Nash has heard it all before — people acknowledging her good reviews in Dahmer — Monster: The Jeffrey Dahmer Story without actually seeing it because they didn’t want to stomach a Netflix limited series about a serial killer. Fortunately, Nash has a ready answer for those ambivalent fans. “I feel like it’s shining more of a light on the victims than it is on the killer,” says the actress, who plays Glenda Cleveland, a real-life neighbor of Dahmer who repeatedly tried to report his crimes to the police. “Normally, you view it from the lead character’s point of view, but you actually get to enter the story through the eyes of his neighbor.” Here, Nash — who currently stars on Reno: 911! and The Rookie: Feds — talks about the role that has changed her life.

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DEADLINE: The attention you have received for Dahmer… does it compare to anything else you have done in your career?

NIECY NASH: Absolutely not. But I didn’t take this particular job because I thought it was going to [perform well] in all of the countries and spur all of these online conversations. I had no idea that any of that was going to happen. This story is told through a different lens. You get to unpack the collateral damage in all of the families who had loved ones who lost their lives to Dahmer. And even though Glenda Cleveland was not killed by him, she definitely was a victim.

DEADLINE: Was there a lot of research available on Glenda before you started?

NASH: Well, Ryan Murphy is a master storyteller, and he makes sure that whatever is available, you have access to it. This character is a blend of a few different women and people in the community who had an experience with Jeffrey Dahmer. I did the best I could while understanding there’s a commonality that all people share who have been hurt. When your voice goes unheard, when your needs go unmet, when you are crying out and no one is listening, that’s a space that if we haven’t been in our life, at some point we will be.

DEADLINE: How did you get the role?

NASH: Ryan called me. I said, “Hello.” He said, “Niecy Nash-Betts. I have something I want you to do.” I said, “OK.” He said, “I wrote it with you in mind.” He said, “Did you hear me?” I said, “OK. I love you and I trust you.” And that was it.

DEADLINE: There’s a gut-wrenching moment during the series when Glenda refers to one of Dahmer’s teenage victims as a baby. The cops had returned him to Dahmer’s apartment after he had tried to escape.

NASH: He was 13. I’m a mother. That’s a baby to me! Maybe if Glenda Cleveland wasn’t the one doing the calling, or maybe if Jeffrey Dahmer had been anything other than white, or if maybe the police department had not been so homophobic, that boy would still be alive.

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