*Natasha Rothwell is living proof that at the end of the day, the girl gets the guy.
Or rather the screensaver, as the comedian-writer discovered when Tyson Beckford came to her rescue to star alongside her in a comedy skit for her new series “Netflix Presents: The Characters.”
The show, which premiered Friday (March 11) on Netflix, features the next generation of comedians who put their talents to use creating, writing and starring 30-minute episodes that highlight various sketches which provide humorous takes on everything from bachelor parodies, to music videos, to biblical spoofs. In addition to Rothwell, the show features Lauren Lapkus (“Orange Is The New Black,” “Jurassic World”), Kate Berlant (“The Meltdown”), Dr. Brown (“Dr. Brown)”, Paul W. Downs (“Broad City”), John Early (“Wet Hot American Summer: First Day of Camp)”, Tim Robinson (“SNL”), and Henry Zebrowski (“Heroes Reborn”).
For Rothwell, the occasion marked a rather interesting reunion, considering she never met Beckford prior to the skit. To hear her tell it, the supermodel has been a presence in her life since her days in college.
“It was a really fun scene to do, especially with someone who spent a great part of his ‘90s as a screensaver on my lap top,” Rothwell confessed to EURweb regarding her connection to Beckford. “It was really cool to do a scene with my college computer screensaver. I had Tyson Beckford up as that. It was a real real time machine to be sitting next to him and he hasn’t aged a bit so it was really great.”
The sketch in question takes a jab at romantic comedies as Rockwell and Beckford fall in love while sitting next to each other on a bench. As luck would have it, Beckford’s appearance came courtesy of a casting agency that secured his services.
“They were so amazing. I just really wanted someone in the scene that I could really highlight the characterized version of myself, that sort of awkwardness,” she said. “I love Hollywood rom coms and the mute cute where that happens. It’s always so perfect in rom coms and actually like in real life I’m always messing those moments up. So he was the perfect person to bring out that awkwardness.”
As part of “The Characters,” Rothwell is grateful for the opportunity to present her brand of comedy to the masses. In her eyes, the freedom to be as creative as she wanted with her half-hour was a true motivator.
“I think it’s an incredible opportunity for eight comedians to really take a half hour and do what they want to with it,” said Rothwell, who has appeared on MTV’s “Wild ‘n Out.” “For me, my experience of understanding what that meant was at the beginning, trying to figure out how much total freedom it really is. They gave us the ball and told us to run with it. To be able to create something, the complete autonomy, it’s very rarely that it’s ever happened. It’s a great opportunity to flex my muscles creatively and really see where I wanted to take the audience with that journey.”
Although she’s front and center in “The Characters,” Rothwell was making people laugh behind the scenes as one of the writers for “Saturday Night Live.” Although the long-running show has been criticized for it s lack of minority representation, Rothwell had nothing but love given to her with her fellow writers.
“I had an incredible experience on the show. As far as the adjectives that I leave with, I think a writer and a comedienne are first. I have never qualified my experience or gender or my race, although I know that’s a huge component on how that is used. But I think in order for me to do my job effectively, I have to really be the best at what it is I’m doing,” the University of Maryland alum stated.
“I think that Steve Martin has a quote that ends in ‘Be so good they can’t ignore you.’ And I really do try to abide by that, but being a woman and being a woman of color are huge parts of my identity and things that I’m incredibly proud of. So it’s something that I think being in a room, being aware of the diversity of the room and how useful and beneficial it is to have a diverse room were things that I realized at “SNL” and writing now. It’s something I think that is not gonna be followed overnight, but is something that I think where networks like Netflix give opportunities to women and people of color. I think bit by bit, we’ll continue to make strides.”
In addition to the “SNL” writers, Rothwell obviously made an impression with the stars in front of the camera. Most notably Cecily Strong, who brings her rap skills to help Rothwell celebrate the joys of being an ordinary woman in the digital short-like video for her song “Basic Bitch.” Strong and Beckford are among the celebrities making cameos on “The Characters,” along with Strong’s fellow Not Ready for Prime Time Player Bobby Moynihan and “Broad City”’s Abbi Jacobson.
“She was helping out,” Rothwell said about Strong appearance and support. “Even on ‘SNL,’ she’s been a really great supporter. When I asked her to do it, she said yes without hesitation. It was a real treat to have her.”
To see the trailer for “Netflix Presents: The Characters,” check out the video below: