Alberta is getting the limelight in this Thursday’s Ghosts, which explores the Prohibition-era singer’s past and a surprising secret that may be connected to her untimely death.
In the episode (airing at 8:30/7:30c on CBS), Sam teams up with Alberta’s creepy super fan Todd to start a podcast about the diva’s life and death. But when they uncover Alberta’s diary (and a shocking revelation within its pages), the past comes back to haunt the ghost.
“I was really excited and honored that they wanted to give me a flashback this season,” Danielle Pinnock, who plays Alberta, tells TVLine. “And that not only did we get a flashback this season, we got to find out a little bit more about Pete’s crush on Alberta, and we really do get to peel back the layers of this incredible diva. She lives for the applause. She loves to perform. She’s very braggadocious. She is the mama bear of the house. But now we get to find out that she’s had a secret that she’s been hiding for the last 100 years, and it’s just really exciting for the ghosts to find out in the way that they do.”
The half-hour also kicks off a murder mystery surrounding Alberta’s death that will thread throughout the season. “I think it’s the second biggest whodunit [after] Trevor’s pants,” Pinnock says. “We now know what happened to the pants. Now we got to figure out how did this girl get murdered. What happened?”
Below, Pinnock talks about conquering her fear of singing for the episode, getting to explore a new side of her character and whether Alberta has romantic feelings for Pete.
TVLINE | There are so many interesting things happening with Alberta in this episode: You have the flashback, you have the start of this murder mystery, and you get to see a more vulnerable side of Alberta, to really get to know her in a new way. What was the most rewarding aspect of this episode for you?
The most rewarding part of the episode was being able to conquer my fear of singing. [Laughs] I’m not a trained singer at all, and I had to get vocal lessons because I was just so nervous about it. A few people have told me it turned out well, which is great. But conquering that fear was the biggest thing for me in the episode. And also being able to play the moments that weren’t as funny, because in this A-storyline, yes, Alberta has some funny things going on, but we really, really do get to dive into her embarrassment about [her secret], and also how hard it was for her as a performer and a woman of size during the 1920s and competing with women who were smaller than her. That’s something that I can totally, totally understand as a plus-size performer that’s been in the industry for over 17 years. I’m excited that we do get to see these new layers of her and these new notes.
TVLINE | You also get to wear some really cool costumes. What was that like?
Oh, that was just such a joy! Shoutout to the entire wardrobe and costuming department for Ghosts because they’re just so meticulous and precise and incredible. And that was made for my body. That was a brand new thing that they made by hand, and I just loved it. I felt like just back in the time, you know what I mean? I felt so glamorous and beautiful. Being able to throw those tassels around while I sang was just such a joy. The director was like, “Remember, you can touch stuff now, because you’re not a ghost, you’re not dead,” and I was like, “Oh, my gosh! I could just totally be hanging on this handlebar. Like, touching the wall and things like that.” So that was a little thing to get over. Being able to touch the mic and work it was just so fun.
TVLINE | Was it nice to finally get to put on something different? Because you’re always wearing that same burgundy-colored dress.
Absolutely! It was so great to be in a different costume and to see what Alberta was like when she was younger, auditioning. I loved those wigs they had me in and those little hats. It was such a ball. It gave me even more context into this character and what she had to go through and the adversities that she faced. A lot of them, even though I’m not a singer, were similar to mine as an actor. So I feel for this character so much, and I have so much love for her.
TVLINE | What can you tease about the murder mystery that’s set off in this episode?
People have been asking to find out if Alberta was murdered or not, and we’ll definitely get some context clues as to what happened. The ghosts, I feel, in Season 1 were gaslighting Alberta, and they were like, “Girl, you just died of a heart attack.” But it’s a little bit more complex than that, and you’ll get to see on Thursday what really happened.
TVLINE | How does Alberta feel about Todd coming back in this episode?
Oh, absolutely terrified! It’s like, “Please, don’t come back with no more toenails! I can’t handle it!” I think Alberta is shooketh, shaken and stirred. She is just terrified that this man is coming back. But also, as we get later into the episode, Todd really is her biggest fan. So even though he is kind of creepy, she does not want to lose him. So we’ll get to see a really interesting dynamic between the two of them, and I hope that Todd comes back because getting to play with Rodrigo Fernandez-Stoll has just been such a dream. He’s incredible to work with and so funny and just amazing.
TVLINE | There’s also all these little mentions from Pete about his feelings for Alberta in this episode, but she never really addresses them. Does she like him back?
I think Alberta likes him back. I think the thing is she’s just worried and scared to love. I think that’s just another layer that we’ll peel back with Alberta later in the season. I think she’s so used to being with these dangerous bootlegger boyfriends that the nice guy might have scared her even more. [Laughs] So we’ll get to definitely see what happens to that love connection between them. I can’t wait!
TVLINE | I also love that in this week’s episode, all the storylines were really female-centric, because you also have the Hetty and the Flower B-story, which is hilarious.
Yes! We call ourselves The Lady Ghost Society. I feel like we’re Destiny’s Child, literally, the three of us. But it just feels really good that we’re able to have a female-centered ghost storyline, and I think people are going to love it. That B-storyline between Hetty and Flower is just so funny and hilarious, but also very powerful in its own way and enlightening, as well, too.