Renee Elise Goldsberry
Renee Elise Goldsberry

Renée Elise Goldsberry is Living Out Her Pop Star Fantasy in Girls5Eva

Tony Award-winner Renée Elise Goldsberry is living out her pop-star fantasy in the new Tina Fey–Meredith Scardino musical comedy series, Girls5Eva. On the show, which is now available for streaming on Peacock, Goldsberry plays Wickie, a member of a ’90s one-hit-wonder group who reunites with her bandmates 20 years later. Rounding out the principal cast are Sara Bareilles, Busy Philipps, and Paula Pell. Entertainment journalist Frank DiLella recently caught up with Goldsberry to talk about bringing her musical and comedy chops to the small screen.

Congratulations on this new project! Is it a total dream project, getting to take part in this series?

It’s a dream! Even if it hadn’t been in the middle of a global pandemic, where I couldn’t leave my house unless somebody paid to COVID-test me, I would have been ecstatic to do this job.

What I love about the series is, yes, it’s all good fun, but you know what? At the end of the day, there is a message: this idea of reinventing oneself.

Absolutely. It’s never too late to start, Frank. That’s something I need to remember. It’s healing to me, as I still have really big dreams and I’m getting older and I need to rekindle some of that hope and enthusiasm that I had when I was 20 about, you know, what I could do with my life.

What was it like filming this series during a global pandemic?

It was a gift. It was scary in that we never knew if the next day we would be able to keep going. It was mostly scary because they did allow us to go home and come back every day, which made me always feel like, Please Lord, don’t let me be the one who shuts this production down. Like, when we finished and I didn’t get COVID through the whole thing, I was like, Thank you, God! Because there’s just a tremendous amount of personal responsibility that we were all being asked to have.

There are a lot of New York theater favorites involved in this project. It was nice to see some familiar faces on the screen.

Well, that was a dream come true. And also, when Tina Fey, who is now one of us, calls you to tell you she’s going to cast so many of your friends in the show — I mean, every time I turned around, there was a Broadway person. Daniel Breaker and Andrew Rannells. I don’t know if this is a spoiler, but one day somebody told me, “Oh, Will Chase is going to be in the show.” And I was like, “Will Chase?!” Like, these are all people I know and love so much. They’re so talented. They’re so wonderful. We all needed a job. We all had time on our hands.

You play opposite Sara Bareilles on the show. Were you friendly with Sara prior to this project? You both were in the Tony class of 2016 — Sara with Waitress, and you with Hamilton.

I met Sara backstage at The Public Theater when she came to see Hamilton, and she admitted very quietly, “I’m also writing a show.” And the next thing I knew, it was Waitress, and that just rocked my world! We were part of the same Tony class. She was at the Tonys with me. I can’t believe I get to say that! That sounds so braggadocious and amazing. I was a huge fan of hers before then. I remember some kids brought me her CD when I was doing Williamstown one summer, and I was like, Oh my God! I just remember sitting on the beautiful grounds of Williamstown, like, trying to sing every lick that she sang in her music. So I am a huge fan, and she’s even better in person.

In the spirit of pop music and icons, who would provide the soundtrack for your life story?

It would probably start with Michael Jackson and some Prince. And I would bring in some Chaka Khan, and I would bring in a group called the Mary Jane Girls. And I would bring in Teena Marie, and then I would get into pop music and I would also do the Go-Go’s and I would also add The Bangles and then I would bring in TLC and I would bring in The Supremes. And I would go even further back and get Sarah Vaughan and then I’d come back to the present day and I would bring in everything Beyoncé ever did. I love great songwriting. I love great singing. I love great clothes. I love great dancers. I’m so grateful that this imaginary world has allowed me a moment to pretend that I’m one of them.