Freshmen sitcom Ghosts is getting funnier by the second and shying far from its BBC inspiration of the same name for a unique dose of laughs each week. Ranking in stellar views for CBS thanks to its unique writing, tonight's episode might just be its funniest yet as house ghost and former 1920s jazz singer Alberta Haynes, gets a visit from an overzealous fan. But it's the precisely acute narrative and smart writing that aptly silences pejorative stereotypes behind the Joe Port and Joe Wiseman sitcom that has series star Danielle Pinnock absolutely excited.
Humbled in helping raise awareness of strong, Black female characters on primetime TV through a "larger than life diva" like Alberta, Pinnock tells PopCulture.com in an exclusive interview that she is excited for fans to learn more about the bold flapper this season thanks to the shifting narrative of the portrayal of Black women on TV.
"I think a lot of times what happens with Black women, and specifically Black women who are plus size, we get these roles that are occupationally driven, where it's like, you really don't know anything about these characters. It's like the truck driver with two lines like, 'Get on the bus.' So the disgruntled secretary, you know what I mean?" Pinnock told PopCulture. "We always get these kinds of angry Black women and I feel like a character like this was so special. When it came across my desk for the audition I was so ecstatic because I've never been able to play a larger-than-life diva in my entire career. You know what I mean? I've never been given the opportunity to have, this woman is fully in her body. She knows she is beautiful. She is not an introvert. She's an extrovert. She's very strong-willed. She's powerful. She also has some shades of vulnerability as well, too. Especially in those moments earlier on in the season, when she's talking to Hetty [Rebecca Wisocky] about why it's important for you to vote because women like me never got the chance."
Further stating how her character is "extremely smart" and "obviously brash," Pinnock admits she's never had a chance to play a character like this with so many shades. "I think it's so important, and I'm so grateful that CBS cast me in this role because they obviously could have cast someone that was a beautiful double zero flapper girl, but they chose someone that was plus size and I just hope that I can inspire women that look like me — and kids," she said. "I feel like when I was growing up I didn't have this representation and of course, women like Octavia Spencer, and Melissa McCarthy, and Natasha Rothwell. These are the women that inspired me to keep going."
Sharing how her hope is that she can "inspire" someone else the way she was in those years before her, Pinnock is humbled by how Alberta is portrayed on Ghosts. "She's stunning. I mean the make-up, the outfits, all of that stuff. So I'm really, really grateful, and I'm excited for how people see this character," she said adding how she loves playing a 1920s ghost. "She's so glamorous and I get to wear crushed velvet every day with that little hat, and my makeup is so on point, and it just has been a dream. It really, truly has been."
In the episode "Alberta's Fan" airing Thursday night at 9 p.m. ET on CBS, Pinnock's beloved jazz singer is thrilled when a super-fan of her music visits the mansion to learn more about her untimely passing. However, things turn awry when Alberta and the other ghosts learn more about the overzealous fan as Sam and Jay invite him to stay overnight. The episode, which is possibly the funniest so far, is one Pinnock says she is most thrilled for fans to watch — especially as she brings more light and life to Alberta, a personality she says was inspired by Black superstars from the 1920s like Mamie Smith or Ma Rainey.
"I'm a theater girl through and through, so my dramaturgy was all on point. I was collecting old records, and I actually was in dance classes as well, too, to learn the dances of the time period, because I was like, they may throw an episode out where I had to do the Charleston, or the Lindy Hop, or anything like that," Pinnock said. "I started taking singing classes because I'm not a singer. So I went deep into a research dive for this character to get myself as prepared as possible and I'm so glad that everybody's like, 'Oh my God, you sound so great on the show, or we love this character' because all the hard work really did end up paying off."
Admitting how her "Caribbean musicality" comes from her Jamaican family, Pinnock shares they all "kind of have a little music" to their actions, spinning Alberta into a very unique character that is unique from the BBC version. "[The cast and I] just wanted to do [the series] justice because, I mean, the UK version of Ghosts is truly the blueprint and we just wanted to make everybody proud," she said adding how viewers from both the U.S. and U.K. have been tuning into their CBS version. "We feel like we've done some great work. The reception has been incredible on social media, and we've been getting a lot of fans reaching out to us like, 'Oh my gosh, we can't wait till next week!'"0comments
Adding how her time so far on the show has felt "surreal," Pinnock is humbled by the show's success stating it is something she never imagined could happen in 2020. "To have booked this job in the middle of a global pandemic was kind of the most insane unexpected blessing that I could have ever thought because I think a lot of us at that time, we were just trying to keep safe and sound. We were in our PJs making our bread, you know what I mean?" she laughed. "And learning new recipes, and trying to keep it sane at home — and to have booked — this is a role of a lifetime for me playing Alberta. She's an incredible character, and so dynamic, and such a diva, and so out of pocket, and larger this life, and I would never have expected that this would've happened to me in a million years."
Ghosts airs Thursdays at 9 p.m. ET on CBS and will be available to stream live and on-demand on Paramount+. Those interested in seeing all Paramount+ has to offer can click here for a free streaming offer.