If you’ve hung out with someone nearly every Thursday night for the last year and a half, you’re bound to think you’ve come to know her pretty well. Not the case with Shirley Bennett, the sweet single mom who has been surprising her college study-mates — and viewers — all season on NBC’s “Community.” So we checked in with actress Yvette Nicole Brown, who says she’s been caught just as off-guard by her character’s recent revelations as anyone.
In the first season, Shirley was seen as very kind and pious. Now we find out she can whip out some serious attitude, was a drinker and is now pregnant, but doesn’t know if the dad is Andre, her ex-husband (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), or Senor Chang, the college’s former Spanish instructor (Ken Jeong).
I think I had a sanitized version of her in my mind. I would think she is who she said she is, and I realize this year that’s not exactly true. She’s striving to be that woman, but she’s not that woman. The things she’s going through this year have humanized her in a really great way. It’s been revelation after revelation for me as an actor playing the character to go, “OK, this is a whole new chick. Let me figure out how to make her interesting.”
Things have definitely become interesting with the Shirley-Andre-Chang triangle.
Andre doesn’t care who the baby’s father is, he just wants to reconcile with Shirley. But there’s going to be some things that happen because Chang isn’t exactly sane. There are parts of him that are really whackadoo, and I don’t know if he is going to go softly into the good night.
So can you convince Malcolm to extend his guest stint as Andre? We heard you had a tiny crush on him in real life.
Oh my God, “had”? I’m still working through it, honey. He is such a lovely man. The first or second weekend of work, I went and took the writers aside and said, “For Shirley, if we ever see her husband, Malcolm-Jamal Warner would be great, especially if they reconcile.” I’ve been gunning for him. It’s a great, great gift that they heard my cry and brought this fabulous actor onto the show. He has a lot going on, but there’s always going to be room for Malcolm to return.
Follow Amber Ray on Twitter at @AmberatMetro.