TV & Movies

From Love, Simon To The White Lotus, Natasha Rothwell’s Movie & TV Roles Impress

Rothwell knows comedy, and she recently signed a major TV deal.

Natasha Rothwell has both acting and writing credits to her name. Here are some of her best TV shows...
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Natasha Rothwell knows comedy. If she’s not writing it, she’s delivering it. In HBO’s miniseries The White Lotus, a satirical dramedy created by Mike White, Rothwell plays Belinda, a spa manager and massage therapist at the Hawaiian resort where some questionable and entitled guests stay. (Look out for her scenes with Jennifer Coolidge’s Tanya McQuoid, they’re great.) Though the six-episode series will soon evolve with a new cast for the just-announced Season 2, fans who still need a Rothwell fix are in luck.

Rothwell’s portfolio includes some exceptional projects worth watching, from a major DC franchise superhero film to a coming-of-age romance. Oh, and a lot of comedy, of course, from off-screen writing credits for Saturday Night Live to both off- and on-screen roles in Insecure. She also boasts several voice credits for animated shows, including multi-episode arcs in Disney’s DuckTales revival and in Nickelodeon’s Baby Shark’s Big Show as the infamous Mommy Shark. You know, from that song. According to Deadline, Rothwell signed a deal with ABC Signature in April 2021 to develop new projects (yes, plural) under her company, Big Hattie Products, so there’s more of Rothwell to look forward to. Meanwhile, to tide us all over, here are the nine best Natasha Rothwell TV and movie roles to watch after The White Lotus.

Insecure

On Insecure, the Issa Rae-created HBO show based on her web series Awkward Black Girl, Rothwell was initially hired as a writer but eventually went on to play the unapologetic and independent Kelli Prenny. The Emmy-nominated show, lauded for its portrayal of twenty-something Black women, mostly centers on the friendship between Issa (Rae) and Molly (Yvonne Orji), but Rothwell’s accountant-by-day-kimono-donning-spitfire-by-night Kelli has some iconic scenes. Who can forget her under-the-dinner-table hanky panky, her Coachella incident, and her friend fight with Tiffany (Amanda Seales)? Kelli is Rothwell’s breakout role, so watch all seasons, stat.

Love, Simon

Rothwell, who previously worked as a drama teacher in the Bronx, slipped into something familiar as the hilarious Ms. Albright, the vice principal and drama teacher in the Greg Berlanti-directed queer romance Love, Simon (2018). With her zingers, Ms. Albright is both funny and endearing, especially when she comes to Simon’s rescue in a pivotal cafeteria scene. Though the character’s role was not as big as in the Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda novel it's based on, Rothwell loved the project. “It’s just exceptional storytelling of love at its purest,” Rothwell told Entertainment Weekly. “It was a story that is close to my heart, and I was just thrilled to be a part of it.” She reprises her role in a guest appearance on Love, Victor, the 2020 Hulu series inspired by the film.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Rothwell also has a brief appearance in one episode of the Golden Globe-winning Brooklyn Nine-Nine as police officer Della Alvarado, who Melissa Fumero’s Amy mistakes for Avocado. The Fox-turned-NBC sitcom starring Andy Samberg, Stephanie Beatriz, Andre Braugher, and Terry Crews is a police procedural-style comedy about Brooklyn’s (fictional) 99th precinct. While any of the critically-acclaimed show’s eight seasons would be a fun watch, Rothwell appears on Season 5, Episode 20, so maybe start with that.

The Characters

Rothwell shines in The Characters, an eight-episode Netflix Original sketch show where eight comedy writers, including Tim Robinson, Lauren Lapkus, and Kate Berlant, each write and star in their own episode. In the “Natasha Rothwell” episode, she takes on multiple sketch characters, and you have to see her as a middle-schooler and a homeless Game of Thrones fan. But her main narrative arc, if a sketch show ever has one, centers on her experience doing jury duty. Don’t miss her powerful rap performance and ode to being a leggings-wearing, Diet Coke-drinking, Nicholas Sparks-reading basic b*tch.

A Black Lady Sketch Show

HBO’s A Black Lady Sketch Show is both a tribute and playground for Black women in comedy. Its main cast includes Robin Thede (also the show’s creator), Ashley Nicole Black, and Laci Mosley and features industry heavyweights, including Angela Bassett, Laverne Cox, and series producer Rae. Rothwell appears in two episodes and even a sketch with her Insecure co-star.

Like A Boss

In Like a Boss, Tiffany Haddish and Rose Byrne star as entrepreneurs Mia and Mel of the Mia&Mel beauty label. But when they run into financial trouble and enlist the help of beauty mogul Claire Luna (Salma Hayek), they realize her guidance comes at a price. Rothwell appears in the film as Mia and Mel’s friend, and her White Lotus co-star Coolidge also appears as the beauty duo’s employee. Oh, if you need another draw to watch the movie, Billy Porter and Lisa Kudrow are also in it.

Wonder Woman 1984

In Wonder Woman 1984, the DC sequel to Gal Gadot’s first box office-topping Wonder Woman, Rothwell plays Carol Thomas, the director of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History, where Diana Prince also works. Though her appearances are brief, it’s Carol who hires Kristen Wiig’s Barbara Minerva, aka the supervillain Cheetah, Diana’s nemesis-to-be. She’s also the one who ultimately grants oil tycoon (and spoiler alert: mega bad guy) Max Lord access to the powerful Dreamstone, so her role is pivotal.

Saturday Night Live

Aside from her on-screen contributions, Rothwell also has impressive writing credits to her name, like a Saturday Night Live season from 2014 to 2015. Her 21-episode writing run included sketches for guest stars Reese Witherspoon, Chris Hemsworth, and Dakota Johnson. Unfortunately, the SNL stint didn’t feel right for her, as she told NPR. “I was like working alongside amazing, smart, funny people in an environment that wasn't for me,” she said, adding, “I don't think it's meant to be easy. I also think that being in a 40-year-old institution that is predominantly white, as a woman of color, it's a different journey.”

Sonic The Hedgehog

In the live-action Sonic The Hedgehog film released in 2020, the furry anthropomorphic hedgehog (voiced by Ben Schwartz) tries to escape the villain Robotnik (Jim Carrey), a mad scientist who wants to steal Sonic’s powers for himself. The speedy, Earth-based blue alien is aided by Tom (James Marsen), a police-in-training married to Tika Sumpter’s Maddie. Rothwell plays Maddie’s sister Rachel, who opens her house to Sonic when he is hurt. Rothwell will reprise her role in the sequel set for a 2022 release.