ATX Interview – Good Girls Actress Retta and Creator Jenna Bans!

ATX Interview with Retta and Jenna Bans

Caroline and Paul spent a few minutes with Retta, one of the leads from NBC’s Good Girls as well as the show’s creator, Jenna Bans during their trip to the ATX Television Festival last weekend.

Caroline:

I know that this part of Ruby was [written] with you in mind. What part of the Ruby is so not Retta? Like, you are just not that girl.

Retta:     

I’m not married with kids.

Caroline:     

There you go. That’s huge.

Retta: 

I mean personality-wise, I feel like as an actor you’re always doing a little bit of yourself. There’s always something of you in it. When you’re playing a mass murderer, you’re not necessarily a murderer, but you can empathize with certain personality traits or characteristics.

Caroline:  

Have there been parts that you feel like you read the script and you say, “Okay this is what Ruby’s going to do this week,” and you’re like, “Uh-uh.” Either they got it wrong – there’s no way Ruby would actually do this or Retta wouldn’t ever do this.

Retta:    

I would never commit a… I would never rob…

Jenna Bans:

For one…

Retta:  

Yeah, I’m too much of a scaredy-cat. Way too much of a scaredy-cat. I will say there’s stuff that I didn’t want her to do. Like, I panicked when I saw that she was talking to Turner.

Caroline: 

Yes!

Retta:                   

The first thing I did was Text Jenna.

Caroline:             

Like, “Would she really do this?”

Retta:                

But I didn’t necessarily think it was out of the realm of something the character would do. I just didn’t want her to do it. You know what I mean?

Caroline:             

Have you ever like put your foot down on anything like that? Where you’re like, “Look, for real.”

Retta:                   

Oh, yes. I would say the scene was just… It’s just dialogue-wise. I was like, “Oh, this is not how a black person who’s lived this life would say a line.” So, there’s things like that…

Jenna Bans:

Which is always really helpful and collaborative. I’m like, “Oh, awesome! What would you say?”

Retta:

I remember we’re sitting, trying to figure out…

Jenna Bans (Good Girls creator) – Good Girls interview at ATX TV Festival. Photo by Paul Daley
Jenna Bans:

Oh, I remember. In the finale…

Retta:

It was this gangster joke…

Jenna Bans:

It was at the bar. I don’t even know if we used that scene.

Retta:

Yeah, I was going to say, I feel like if we didn’t use it.

Caroline:

It just didn’t feel as authentic?

Retta:

Yeah…

Jenna Bans:

It was a turn of phrase.

Retta:

It was just a word and I was like, “We’ve got quite a different word for this because it doesn’t fit, and as a black person she wouldn’t say it cause it doesn’t fit,” and I can’t think of what it was. And we changed it.

Caroline:

One of the things we love about the show is how every day it is. You really could find yourself in this situation. I find it fascinating. How do you, as an actress, make some of those moments, like sitting on the phone on hold with like the insurance company, something an audience wants to watch? We do that in real life, but that’s not entertainment. But, it is – with you.

Retta:

It’s a frustrating thing for someone in life to deal with. And so it’s almost just relating like, “Ugh, yes.” It’s not like you’re… “this is so fun to watch.” It’s like with comedy, you know, they say it’s funny because it’s true.

Caroline:

Mmm-hmm.

Retta:

It’s engaging because you know it.

Caroline:

We’ve all been through it.

Retta:

Yeah.

Paul:

(to Jenna) But how do you write it, to make it compelling? To make it good TV?

Jenna Bans:

You know, it’s always buried. Those little moments, like the one you referenced with the insurance company, are always buried deep in other moments. We try to always have a surprise in the scene. I think it’d be hard to write a scene just about being on the phone with the insurance company.

Caroline:

Right!

Jenna Bans:

The scene really, was Stan, Reno Wilson, coming home and having stolen that pen cap that she was about to go to jail for. We call it turning a scene. We like to have it start out one way where it’s this relatable moment of like, “Oh my God, please a person just pick up.”

Retta:

Right.

Jenna Bans:

And then it turns into this shocking thing of, “my cop husband who is so on the straight and narrow, just committed a crime to save me.” And that part is just worthless. The only parts in the scene are, “Bitch, you need to answer,” and, “Can I talk to a person?” So, I think it’s combining those two things that make it entertainment. At least for me. It would be hard for me to write a whole scene on calling the insurance company. Although I think Retta could do it, I mean, I feel it’d be hard to write.

Caroline:

You could! That’s what’s special about you that I really feel like as an actress, I’m still engaged even though I’m like, “I hope they pick up…” But you’re talking to the insurance. It’s not like an explosion.

Retta:

Right. So, it’s also being familiar with what’s going to happen in this scene. I’m playing it in a way that to me, it is just about this, about this, about this… what the fuck…

Jenna Bans:

And that’s what makes it so great.

Retta – Good Girls interview from ATX TV Festival. Photo by Paul Daley.
Retta:

And then you’re like, oh, by the way, this is not about her issues with that. Shit is about to go down.

Caroline:

Well and speaking of those everyday moments too, I feel like we’ve seen Beth and other characters in sexual situations, very sexual in the bathroom and what not. But then I think about when I see Stan and Ruby in the bedroom, they’re usually talking about TV and being very, very ordinary, very normal. But we’re not seeing a lot of rolling around in bed and all that kind of stuff. And I wonder about that because I find myself always being like, I feel like every woman on TV of every shape, size, color, everything should be doing everything.

Retta:

Oh, right.

Caroline:

So, I always wonder, like, we shy away…

Jenna Bans:

We’ve seen a little bit…

Retta:

We have seen us together. I don’t know that you’ve seen us, like, actually boning.

Caroline:

I feel like definitely not.

Retta:

Season four, it’s coming.

Jenna Bans:

Season four, they’re boning fools.

Retta:

That’s totally Bora Bora.

Jenna Bans:

I will say there was that moment when they smoked weed together in season one, that was a little sexy, a little playful, a little kissy… You were rubbing up on him.

Retta:

That was funny to play ‘cuz I was like, “How am I gonna do this?”

Jenna Bans:

Oh, you rubbed up on him. I loved it.

Retta:

“You know what I mean? Am I going to get up in his butts?” [laughter]

Caroline:

Stan and Ruby are an amazing couple. I root for them completely. Do you feel like they’re going to get through this no matter what, they’ve got a happy ending or not? What do we think?

Retta:

Listen. Retta is praying.

Caroline:

We all are.

Retta:

Whatever people bring it up. I’m like…

Jenna Bans:

You know what? Stan and Ruby to me are such the backbone of all of the marriages on the show that I can’t see a world in which they’re not… It’s not going to be smooth sailing for the rest of the series, but I can’t see a world in which they split up.

Caroline:

Fantastic!

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