Nina Campbell
- Dick and Mary's secretary -

The character of Nina Campbell is played by actress Simbi Khali. She works at Pendleton University in the role of secretary to Mary initially and also to Dick when he arrives and is assigned to the same office. Later Nina comments on this by telling Dick, "when you arrived my workload doubled but my pay didn't."

In this interview, Simbi Khali gives her view on the role of Nina Campbell and her experiences of working on Third Rock from the Sun (aka 3rd Rock)

Interview with Simbi Khali

Given her occupation, it is not surprising that Nina feels quite 'put upon'. Working with someone like Dick could only ever intensify this experience but she responds to it quite strongly, early on revealing herself to be gritty and sharp. She often comes close to recognising Dick's alien origins; like in the first ever episode when she asks him, 'Are you from Mars?' But strong and assertive as she is, it is just not part of her human mental conditioning to be able to take the association to its logical conclusion.

As well as being sexy and beautiful, Nina is of African-American descent. She is conscious and proud of her heritage, a fact which allows the show to explore sensitivities that exist around issues of race. In the process, the show writers and creators prove once again that comedy is the best mechanism for exploring delicate and sensitive issues - especially if you handle it with all the tact of a bull in a china shop. To aliens, all humans look the same, so much so that even skin tones are not noticeably distinguishable. On one occasion, when Nina feels compelled to remind Dick that she is black, Dick responds by writing it on a post-it note and sticking it on her clothing.

As well as being burdened with the role of Dick's secretary, she also finds herself enlisted to be Sally's 'best friend'; since Sally doesn't have any women friends in Rutherford - just a lot of male admirers. She is more favourably disposed to Sally, perhaps believing that her problems stem from being sister to Dick. Nevertheless, even Sally's behaviour creates moments of awkwardness for everyone around her, and that includes Nina. At one stage Sally moves in with her and the two become flatmates. The arrangement lasts less than a day and a couple of hours at most. It turns out that they have very different ideas and tastes. As for example when Nina suggests spending the night watching a chick flick and Sally recommends Full Metal Jacket.

Despite being incredibly attractive, Nina 'never seems to have a boyfriend': something which the aliens constantly remind her of despite her strenuous objections to the contrary. She does have a brief but memorable fling with Harry, which ends all too tragically when a certain misunderstanding arises over a little matter to do with the tooth fairy. There is also an episode where Dick experiences erotic fantasies about her and, in his ever candid and forthright manner, chooses to reveal this to both Mary and Nina.

In line with her strong sense of heritage and identity, she does express a preference for black men. An example of this is when Sally sets her up on a blind date. Nina asks, 'is he black?' to which Sally replies with a 'yes', holding her arm up to Nina's to compare skin tones before settling on her answer. Again this reflects the difficulties which the aliens have in understanding 'racial issues'; a fact that can cause them to come across as insensitive. They are simply unaware of the history of oppression and cruelty which people of African-American background have had to deal with. Thus in an episode where Mary claims that her family actually arrived in America 'on the Mayflower', a fascinated Dick immediately asks Nina if that was how her family arrived too. Nina replies in her smiling, condescending fashion by telling Dick that her family arrived 'on a different boat.'

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