Lacey Hamilton is brazen, image-obsessed and likely to reach for a cocktail before coffee at the breakfast table. Consummate performer Nikki Deloach, though, who's taken on the "Awkward" character over the past two years, is not any of those things. Since the Georgia native's days in the Mickey Mouse Club alongside Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears, she's always been a substance over style kind of gal.
Having spent years traveling the world as a '90s pop star, DeLoach says she's always learning from Lacey, who's a complete departure from her former life as a teenybopper. Take a look at what else she told Remote Control, and feast your eyes on some "Nikki-in-the-'90s" video moments.
How did your '90s pop group, Innosense, come to be?
When I was on Mickey Mouse Club, Justin Timberlake and I sort of became best friends. My nana had to travel back and forth from home to be with my grandfather, so Justin’s mom kind of became like a guardian to me. She called me up a couple years after I’d moved to LA and after *NSYNC was just starting to break out in the U.S, and was like, "What do you think about putting together a girl group?"
We first called Britney Spears, and she was on board for a little while, but then went off and did her own thing. We ultimately did a talent search, and Innosense was together for six years. We didn’t have the success I’d always hoped for, but I got to tour the world and play Madison Square Garden twice. I remember when I came out on stage that first time, I missed the first couple of lines because I was so overwhelmed with emotion.
Speaking of Britney Spears--we could never forget that famous 1999 Slumber Party. What’s she like?
Britney and I were definitely friends back then. She was always so great and so unaffected by her huge fame--just a sweet, amazing person. For her, hanging out with girls at a sleepover thing--even on camera--was just fun. I haven’t spoken to her in a long time, but it would be great to see her and catch up.
Coming from a background of youth-obsessed teen sensations, what’s it like to now play a parent?
Lacey is the most challenging role I’ve ever taken on, not just because she is a parent, but because she is so nuanced. Even with how dramatic she is, and how outrageous she can be at times, she still has to be really grounded because she's a mother.
I haven’t been a mother yet in my own life, and playing this mom on TV has really opened up my mind to what my mother was going through during all of those fights and arguments. She was just trying to do what was best for me, and maybe her follow-through wasn’t spot-on, but her intentions were always good.
How did you personally cope when you found out Lacey had written the “Carefrontation” letter?
I actually found out when I auditioned for the role--Lauren [Iungerich, the series creator] was like, "I want you to do that scene again, but do it with this in mind: You wrote the letter." And my heart just dropped.
What will it take for Jenna and Lacey to recover fully?
This season is all about redemption for Lacey, and the audience will really see that by Episode 12. Lacey’s going to have to work really hard; not just helping Jenna understand that her heart was in the right place, but that there are a series of events that Jenna is unaware of that caused her to write the letter.
How is Ben's return to Lacey's life going to change things?
The way in which Ben kind of comes in the picture--with Lacey and Kevin falling out--I think that does happen in real life, where you do have that first love; that one guy that was always good to you, but for some reason, the timing never worked out. And when something happens in your current life, I think it’s only human nature to revisit those earlier places, especially if the person you were with is standing right in front of you.
At the end of the day, I think you take a right or a left because that’s what you’re meant to do, and it leads to what you’re meant to experience. Lacey was given this gift by having Jenna, and if Ben and her never broke up, she never would have had Jenna. So as much as Lacey ponders if things would have been different, she wouldn’t want anything to have changed, because then Jenna wouldn’t be in her life.
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Photo: Elisabeth Caren