Tough As Nails! A Look Behind the Scenes of Niecy Nash’s New TNT Series ‘Claws’

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Claws- BTS, summer preview
TNT

“This is a group of women struggling to get a piece of the pie,” says executive producer Janine Sherman Barrois. “They’ve been relegated to wallpaper but believe they are rock stars.” Karrueche Tran, Judy Reyes, Jenn Lyon and The Good Fight’s Carrie Preston (from left) round out Desna’s salon sisters and fellow partners in crime. Preston says the show’s title might initially mislead viewers: “You think ‘catfight and tearing each other down,’ and while there is a little bit of that, it’s definitely a show about female friendship.”

Claws- BTS, summer preview
TNT

The show’s creators knew that finding the right actress to match Desna’s dynamism would be a challenge. “After Niecy was cast, people fought to read scripts [for the other roles],” says executive producer Janine Sherman Barrois (above right, with Nash and creator Eliot Laurence). “She has this certain fierceness on screen that’s kind of ineffable,” adds producer Rashida Jones (Angie Tribeca). “We felt really lucky that she responded to the project.”

Claws- BTS, summer preview
TNT

Nash (with Tran and The Strain’s Jack Kesy, who plays a fellow launderer) knows how to make people laugh, but Desna has a dark side. “I think she’s probably the most complex woman I’ve ever played,” Nash says. “She’s sexy, she’s funny, she’s a mother. Then there is this turn in her.”

Claws- BTS, summer preview
TNT

Nailing it! The cast, including Tran (below), went to nail-technician school to learn the craft. “The [designs of the] nails speak to what each character is going through,” Preston says. “Every time a character is introduced, the type of nails they’re wearing is described.”

Claws- BTS, summer preview
TNT

Lost alum Harold Perrineau (above, with Lyon) plays Desna’s mentally troubled brother, Dean, and the sibling relationship grounds Desna as her life spins out of control. “They are the yin and yang to each other in a lot of ways,” Nash says. “Harold is so brilliant because his role—in terms of what his mental disability is—was never clearly defined in the script, [but] it’s a beautiful dance when we get together.”

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Nail salons are well-known for a few things: acrylic designs, French manicures, juicy gossip—and, in TNT’s darkly funny new series Claws, a healthy dose of disreputable crime. Niecy Nash plays Desna Simms, a Florida salon proprietor with big dreams that keep getting derailed despite her best efforts. “You meet her at a point in time where she’s trying to get off the ride of money laundering,” Nash says, “but she is continually sucked back in by [the Mafia].” The Reno 911! vet and her costars take us inside the New Orleans set to show us all the fun at their fingertips.

Claws, Premieres, Sunday, June 11, 9/8c, TNT