Lacretta as Donna Gurganous in Night Court
Melissa Rauch as Abby Stone and Lacretta as Donna Gurganous in Night Court
Lacretta as Donna Gurganous and Kapil Talwalkar as Neil in Night Court
Lacretta's Second Act
The singer-turned-actress puts a new spin on a familiar role in NBC's Night Court.
If you're invited over to Lacretta's new home and see a Christmas tree still up, there's good reason. The breakout star of NBC's Night Court spent nearly seventeen years toiling away in New York City, juggling theater gigs and television auditions before she accepted a truth she'd been avoiding. "I moved there in 2006, and never really put roots down. I never put any decorations on the wall. I didn't buy a dining room set. I didn't get Christmas trees," she remembers. That's all changed now that Lacretta calls Hollywood home — there are paintings, furniture and a planted pine tree decorated with hearts and firecrackers until the holidays return. "I just felt good here."
Night Court, which was recently renewed for a second season, follows judge Abby Stone (Melissa Rauch), the daughter of Harry T. Stone (played in the original 1984–1992 series by the late Harry Anderson), as she presides over the night shift of a Manhattan arraignment court. (John Larroquette reprises his Emmy-winning role as attorney Dan Fielding.)
Booking Donna "Gurgs" Gurganous, the comedic bailiff with a heart of gold, on the reboot (which Lacretta prefers to call "a second chance") came right on time. "I never expected this to happen. I remember when I did Second Act with Jennifer Lopez and Leah Remini, and a friend of mine posted, 'Everything that you prayed for, you have it now,'" she says. "I'm overwhelmed and completely grateful."
Part of Lacretta's gratitude stems from the six months in undergrad she spent studying opera in Germany. The Kansas City native left behind her gospel group roots and found she could command the stage as a soloist. "Singing was a way for me to cope with being so far away from home and immersed in a country whose language is not my first," she says. "As much as I love my group members, I didn't realize that I had my own voice."
After her spell in Germany and graduation from the University of Missouri, she moved to New York and brought her fine-tuned vocals to regional theater and Broadway, including the first national tour of The Book of Mormon. On screen, she made appearances on Law & Order, 30 Rock, Broad City and Gotham. When the pilot audition for Night Court came her way, Lacretta kept a level head because it was her third chance at becoming a regular on a show. "What was it about the universe and the stars that aligned? Listen, three is a very powerful number," she says.
There's also pride in the legacy she's continuing. "I'm following in the footsteps of Marsha Warfield [who played the bailiff in the original Night Court]. But it's different in that Gurgs is not your typical big, Black woman character. that's what I love so much about her. That's why I'm fiercely protective of her, because I didn't expect to have that kind of opportunity in my career," Lacretta says. "We're going to just go ahead and claim a second season, third, fourth, fifth and seventeenth."
With her new roots firmly planted — she has a monstera split leaf plant named Harry T. Stone — the verdict is in on Lacretta's future, and it looks bright.
Night Court is executive produced by Dan Rubin, Melissa Rauch and Winston Rauch. John Larroquette is a producer. The series is produced by Warner Bros. Television in association with After January Productions and Universal Television, a division of Universal Studio Group.