While Nicole Sullivan made her Hollywood breakthrough on nighttime soaps like “Party of Five” and “Models, Inc.,” she is best known for her comedic roles. She was a principle cast member on “MADtv” for 10 years, she starred as the titular character on Lifetime Television’s original sitcom “Rita Rocks,” and she now co-stars as Bonnie in the William Shatner-starring CBS sitcom, “$#*! My Dad Says.”
Aside from being a talented actress, comedian and voice-over artist, Nicole is first and foremost a wife and mother. She’s been married to actor Jason Packham since 2006, and together they have two sons, Dashel, 3, and Beckett, 1. When I caught up with her recently, she told me about juggling motherhood with her busy career.
Celebrity Extra: I am sure you are having lots of fun with “$#*! My Dad Says,” but I was sad to see that “Rita Rocks” had been canceled. What was it you liked most about that show?
Nicole Sullivan: Well, it was a great family sitcom, and it really clicked with me at this time in my life. It’s like the minute you give birth — and I mean THE MINUTE you give birth — it’s not about you anymore. It’s about someone else. And that’s the joy of motherhood, and I don’t think any mother would have it any other way. But what happens is, over time, you start thinking: What about a little something for me? And as moms we just feel so guilty if we prioritize ourselves at all. And I think the next thing you wake up and you’re unfulfilled, and you’re not sure why. “Rita Rocks” was about a woman who woke up after 16 years and said: “You know what? I really love music; I love singing. I want to get that back.” I know she’s never going to open for U2, but she’s going to have a great time in her garage playing with her friends.
CE: Of course I knew about your extensive comedic and dramatic work, but I had no idea that you had done and continue to do so much voice work. What are some aspects of doing voice work that you really like — besides the fact that you don’t have to put on makeup to do it?
NS: Sitcom work is an 8 1/2 out of 10 as far as work goes. It’s the greatest job. The hours are great. The one downside to sitcom work is there are no sick days. You’re sick; you go to work anyway. You’ve got 150 people going, “Really, she’s not going to show up?” That’s not an option. Other than that there’s not a downside I can find with this job. It’s just a great job and I’m so blessed that I’ve gotten it. And the only thing that’s better is voice-over work. And I’ve been really lucky, because there are some really dumb cartoons out there, and I’ve been really lucky to have worked on really well-written, fun ones. “Kim Possible” went on for seven or eight years, and it was a really great show. I’m doing “Penguins of Madagascar” now, which shows on Nickelodeon, and I think is either neck and neck with “SpongeBob SquarePants” or just surpassed it for the top children’s show in the country. I’ve just been really lucky to get to work with good-good material and really nice people.
CE: I also love seeing you pop up on something I don’t expect, like the recurring role you had on “Scrubs.” That was such a departure from what I’m used to seeing from you. What was it like working on that set and doing that character?
NS: Tremendous. Bill Lawrence, the creator of the show, is a friend of mine. So it was totally nepotism. He wrote in parts for a lot of his friends, and you always get a really good view of what Bill thinks of you when you see how he writes you into shows. And when he wrote that part I thought: “He thinks I’m out of my mind! I love it!” That cast was so talented; I loved that show. I loved everyone there. It was such a top-notch experience.