POP INTERVIEW: Betty White’s “Off Their Rockers” Sidekick Reatha Grey

Reatha Grey came out of retirement better than ever. Now she's a regular cast member on the sensational NBC comedic reality show, Off Their Rockers!

Reatha Grey came out of retirement better than ever. A regular cast member on the sensational NBC comedic reality show, Off Their Rockers, produced by and co-starring the infamous Golden Girl herself, Betty White, Miz Grey is busy. These days, you can catch the former film extras agency head and Three’s Company actress guest starring on How I Met Your Mother, Nickelodeon, HBO’s The Newsroom and Comedy Central…and a stand-up comedy venue near you! Next stop, People Style Watch!

Reatha Grey 1

You’re an example of someone who never gives up. And we have young people, people in their 20’s, giving up on their dreams after a year.
One of my sayings is “it’s never too late, you’re never too old! “Too old” is what you perceive it to be. When I turned 28 ½, I went into a panic about turning 30. It was a year and a half away and yet I obsessed about being old, at 30. A few weeks before my 30th birthday, I was telling a lady how depressed I was because I was turning 30. She smiled and said, “You don’t have to turn 30.” I got excited and said, “Really, I don’t have to turn 30?” She said, “No, you can die!” I hadn’t thought about it that way before. It was at that moment that I realized that everyone doesn’t get to grow old and every day of life is precious. As I grow older, I realize even more how true that is. For a year and a half I was depressed and gave up on my dreams because they hadn’t been realized and I perceived I was going to be too old. Since then I have not stopped dreaming, given up on my dreams or perceived myself as old.

Amazing! Was retirement not challenging enough for your personality?
I’ve never thought of retirement as an option. My grandmother worked literally until the day she died at age 99. Like far to many Americans, I haven’t planned well for retirement so I will, God willing, work well past normal retirement age. I can’t imagine just sitting around, doing nothing, waiting to die. I plan to work, travel, and live life to it’s fullest to the very last breath.

How do you find every day exciting?
The days when I work on Betty White’s Off Their Rockers are especially exciting. I get up, go to some location that may be anywhere in the USA, pull pranks on unsuspecting young people, and they pay me for doing it. I couldn’t ask for a better job.

When I’m not working on the show, I have the life of any other actress. I go to auditions, pray I get work, take acting classes, attend workshops and prepare when I am blessed to get a job.

I love to take great vacations. I love swimming with dolphins and sharks, zip lining is my latest discovery and someday I hope to skydive.

Guests on your show are modern day favorites like Nick Lachey(!), Nicole Richie and Psy of “Gangnam Style” popularity. How does good humor spread to all ages?
It is great meeting some of the pop favorites on the show. How many people can say they learned to dance Gangnam Style from Psy?

Humor crosses all lines, culture, age, even sex. In fact, all cultures seem to find humor in aged sex. That’s one of my things on the show, making sexual advances to young guys or talking about my sexual exploits. People seem to think that older people don’t have sex. I’ll never forget the looks on the faces of the people at a dog park when I started hookin’ up with an old boyfriend right in front of them, or when I’m making out with Lou Beaty Jr., one of the cast members. Would it be funny if we were in our twenties?

I meet people of all ages that love and laugh at our show. One of my favorite stories is the woman who told me that her 6 year old daughter loved the scene where Betty directed Ann Benson and I to make it rain while Michael Yama pole danced. She said “now her daughter wants her to make it rain while she dances.”

Reatha Grey

What is the show process, from start to finish? How do you make the silliness relatable?
The creative team comes up with concepts. The pranks are assigned to the various pranksters. Everyone that is portrayed as old on the show is really an older person, yes, even the skateboarder. Some that do the harder pranks, like hanging from cars are stunt people, but they are all seniors. We take the concepts and hit the streets with hidden camera crews. We never know what is going to happen because all of the people that we prank are unsuspecting and unscripted. We set them up, play off how they react to us, and comedy ensues.

The Betty wraps, are the scenes that bridge the pranks. They involve Betty, guest stars and the pranksters in scripted skits. Some people actually think that we live in a house together and hang out with Betty everyday. Betty is way too busy to hang out with us all the time, but the time we do spend together is marvelous.

What is Betty White like off camera? Does she play pranks on you or tease you? Do you ever do anything back to her?
Betty White is not only the star of the show, she is also our boss, as the executive producer. You couldn’t ask for a better boss. She is always kind and encouraging. She doesn’t play pranks, but she always makes us laugh. She has a quick wit and is always in a great mood. I don’t think she ever has a bad day and she even laughs at our jokes.

She hosted “Saturday Night Live” due to popular demand. We need to start your “SNL” campaign! Is it something you would do if they asked you to host?
In the ‘70’s they had a contest to be a guest on “SNL,” I entered, but didn’t win. I would love to be a guest on “SNL” but the hosting job might be a little too much for me, however when Justin Timberlake host for the 6th time, I’d love to make a guest appearance. Justin is my latest celebrity crush.

What other professional goals do you have?
I like doing stand-up comedy, I’m working on some sets now. I would love to do a sitcom, a great ensemble piece like Friends or Seinfeld. I have a couple of scripts that I’m looking at right now, but I could be perfectly happy doing Betty White’s Off Their Rockers forever.

My grandmother’s life mission is to humiliate me on a regular basis. Over the years, she asks me things like what sexual things I would refuse to do with a man if asked, why my clothing choices are not more revealing when I need to “show off my bosom” and if I have “exciting experiences with women.” Once, she tried to start a word of mouth rumor about me dating this really handsome older guy who’s now married but whom I never dated for the sake of it…to make me seem sought after like Scarlett O’Hara. I actually blocked her on my old Facebook account because she was writing rude things she shouldn’t have on my wall. Your show in particular concentrates on outrageous elderly like this! What should I do so she stops embarrassing me? All she talks about – when she isn’t gossiping or trolling the Internet in her 90’s via her iPhone – is wanting to date men my age like pro jocks I have interviewed/met, men she once lusted after and wearing revealing clothes. I mean, she’s really nice, she is my granny and I care about her, but she always makes fun of me as she laughs maliciously. She has to be possessed by Gilbert Gottfried.
My grandson told me just the other day that if I try to friend him on Facebook he wouldn’t accept me. You grandchildren are all alike when it comes to us free-spirited grannies.

All jokes aside though, enjoy your grandmother while you can. We won’t be around forever. We suffered you embarrassing us over the years. Peeing in your pants, acting out in public, not doing what we asked you to, etc. when you were young, now indulge us for a few years. You’re old enough for us to have adult conversations with and yet young enough to know what’s still hip and fun, enquiring grannies want to know! Let her have her fun! Keep her blocked from your social networks, but take her to lunch or an interview with one of those jocks, that will give her something to talk about, other than you, for months. She can thank me later.

I cannot believe you’re still out and about doing stand up comedy. How do you bring out your wickedness onto the stage? Do you ever channel a Sasha Fierce side to you who can say anything…uh, someone like my wicked grandmother?
I think we all have a wild side, some more than others. I don’t need to channel a Sasha Fierce, I need to work more to keep the wild side inside. I’ve always been told that I didn’t have much of a filter, performing has always been an acceptable way of my acting out. I bet your grandmother has a book, or movie or something trying to get out that we all need to hear.

You have great skin for your age. Do you do anything special, or is it about you taking care of yourself?
As my grandfather use to say, “If I had known I was going to live this long I would have taken better care of myself.” I thankfully gave up all of my really bad habits in my thirties. I try to take care of myself, eat well, facials and massages.

How do you pick out clothes and makeup for your red carpet appearances? You’re competing with girls like Kristen Stewart! My new goal, and I mean it seriously, is for you to get in “People Style Watch” within a year. It’s never too late to outdo the Young Hollywood crowd. At minimum, you should get in for wearing pretty jewelry!
I love red carpets! When I did my first red carpet I asked an actress friend what should I wear. She said something stylish and age appropriate. When I looked in my closet I realized I didn’t own anything age appropriate. I was just coming out of my mid-life crisis, which was the re-birth of my acting career, and everything I owned looked like an older woman trying to look young, it wasn’t pretty. I went out and started shopping at the stores where my grandmother used to shop. Designers make beautiful clothes for older women that lift and firm the parts that the young girls expose. I’d love to be a spokesmodel for a line of clothes for mature woman, after all we’re the ones with the money.

The same with make-up, as I look at the photos on the red carpet, the more natural look seems to look best. A good line of makeup helps preserve the skin while making you look your best.

Nowadays, you’re doing guest spots on popular shows. “How I Met Your Mother.” “The Newsroom.” Lifetime. For anyone who feels frustrated with not having made it yet in their careers, what can you tell them?
Unless you’re 80 years old and want to be something like a brain surgeon, which takes years of school, start now, no matter what your age. If your dream is something that you trained for but gave up, get back in the game, if you need to go back to school, go. If you think no one will hire you to do that, start your own company. If you have a million dollar idea, this is the right time to put it out there. We live in a wonderful time when literally anything is possible. it’s never too late, you’re never too old.

What’s up for you next on “Off Their Rockers?”
Betty White’s Off Their Rockers is up for Best New Show 2012 and Most Unique Concept for the Reality Wanted Awards – http://www.realitywantedawards.com. We haven’t heard if the show has been picked up for a third season yet, but we all hope so! I can’t wait to get back on the streets pranking those youngsters and hangin’ out with Betty and the gang.

Nicole Russin aka. Richárde

Nicole Russin, also known as her alter ego Richárde, is a bestselling chef, experienced print journalist and beauty/editorial model. You may visit her official website at NicoleRussin.com.

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