‘Ghosts’ Star Danielle Pinnock on Alberta’s Big Fan & Exploring Her Death
[Warning: The below contains MAJOR spoilers for Ghosts, Season 1, Episode 9, “Alberta’s Fan.”]
Ghosts is diving deeper into the past of Harlem Renaissance singer Alberta (Danielle Pinnock) in the latest episode, “Alberta’s Fan,” but along with introducing the spirit to her biggest fan (that’s still alive), the installment makes way for new revelations about her mysterious death.
While Sam (Rose McIver) and Jay (Utkarsh Ambudkar) are still busy with renovations, a peculiar historian shows up with hopes of building a connection to Alberta’s spirit, unaware that she’s roaming Woodstone’s hallways. At first, they’re under the impression that this man has created a successful museum in her memory, but as time goes on, Todd’s (Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll) stay reveals creepier details about him, such as his back tattoo of Alberta’s face, the possession of a vial containing her toenails, and his obsession with sniffing her belongings that still remain in the mansion.
Ultimately, his interest in Alberta pays off though because he goes the extra mile of drinking some old moonshine only to learn that it’s poisoned. Luckily, Todd doesn’t die and it allows the whole house to learn that Alberta’s death may not have been a heart attack as previously believed by the other ghosts.
Below, Pinnock opens up about exploring Alberta’s story, hopes for future flashbacks with the singer, and her thoughts on Todd’s ink tribute to her character.
What were you most excited to learn about when diving deeper into Alberta’s story for this episode?
Danielle Pinnock: Playing this character has been a dream come true. Alberta is hilarious, and she has some of the best one-liners in this series. She’s so boisterous and such a diva. But I love this episode so much because I think it’s so important we get to peel back the layers and learn a little bit more about herself, her family, and how she ended up at the mansion, to begin with.
Alberta is her own hype-girl most days in the home. Do you think she’s slightly surprised to meet a fan even though she constantly claims she had many fans back in the day?
We joke about this often on the show, that the ghosts really do gaslight Alberta a lot. She’s always like, “I think I may have been murdered,” and they’re like, “No, girl, you died of a heart attack.” She’s like, “No, I actually think it was something else, but that’s okay.” And I think because she is so dramatic, and she’s so over the top, it’s the reason why none of the ghosts truly want to believe that it would’ve been anything other than a heart attack.
But in this episode, we get a little bit of intel there could have been some foul play that was involved in her death. And I think it’s so cool that she becomes a viral sensation by the end of the episode. It’s really the fame that she’s always wanted. Now she’s getting all the glory on Spotify and more. I mean, it’s just incredible.
Would you like to see Alberta’s possible murder explored more on the show? Do you think there’s a chance we’ll find out what actually happened to her?
First and foremost, we don’t know what goes on with these characters until we [read the scripts]. So I have my own suspicions. I do feel like there was some foul play involved. But I’m super excited for a potential flashback episode – whether that’s this season or, knock on wood if we get a Season 2 – for them to really explore what was going on during the Harlem Renaissance with our girl Alberta.
And also I have to give a shout-out to [episode writer] Lauren Bridges, who is an incredible writer… She’s just super excited for everyone to get to know a little bit more about Alberta. And I love how they crafted this episode because so far we’ve had flashbacks with Flower (Sheila Carrasco) and Isaac (Brandon Scott Jones), but [this time] they’ve done it through the eyes of a fan, who is so incredibly played by Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll, so creepily. I think he’s absolutely brilliant and truly kills as Todd the historian.
Speaking of Todd, Alberta’s fan is an interesting guy. Do you think after meeting him she’d prefer to not have fans, or is she willing to take him on in return for growing her popularity?
With those superfans, it could go either way. Because he is so out of the box, and because he is very creepy – I mean, the man has her old toenails – I think she probably would’ve [preferred being] an indie singer with maybe a couple of people that liked her because Todd does go overboard. But I got to say it is a Catch-22 because if he wasn’t as obsessed with her, we would never have known anything about this woman.
It’s also just such a testament to this time period. There are so many voices that we don’t know, from those times. They may have been really famous. And obviously, we know the Bessie Smiths and the Ma Raineys and the Billie Holidays, but there are so many countless others. So I think it’s really cool how they’ve been able to spin history on its head for this. And I’m really excited because I know that CBS has actually added an Alberta playlist to Spotify.
While Todd does have Alberta’s toenails, he also has a larger-than-life tribute to her in the form of a back tattoo. What was it like seeing your face on someone else’s body?
That had me laughing because I remember being in my trailer and Gillian Chandler, who is a makeup artist on the show was like, “Oh, I just need to take a couple of selfies of you.” And I was like, “Okay, cool,” thinking it’s just for Instagram. Then I kept on hearing these rumors of, “We need to make a tattoo.” And I was like, “Wait, what are they talking about?” It wasn’t until I got to set, and Rodrigo took his shirt off. I was like, “Oh my God, that’s my face!”
It just blew my mind. It is probably the funniest scene that I’ve ever been in, in my entire career. It was super surreal and Rodrigo’s delivery is just absolutely incredible. I know for a fact it’s definitely going to be a tweetable moment when he takes that t-shirt off and my face is on that man’s back. I cannot wait. Socials will definitely be going crazy for that [Laughs].
The happy facial expression of the tattoo is also hilarious, considering Alberta wants nothing to do with Todd.
Oh no, never. And the thing that I also think is great about that scene is it’s the first time that Jay has actually seen what one of the ghosts looks like. Like, “Oh wait, Sam actually isn’t crazy. She actually really is seeing ghosts, for real.” So I just think it’s just a great crossover between the livings and the dead.
Ghosts, Thursdays, 9/8c, CBS