When Las Vegas took a beating and storms blacked out Chicago in part one of Category 6: Day of Destruction, Nancy McKeon thought of it as "a fun ride." Of course, it helps that she's only making believe in the CBS disaster miniseries, part two of which airs tonight at 8 pm/ET. Here, the 38-year-old actress tells TV Guide Online about stormy weather, the sapphic appeal of The Facts of Life's Jo Polniaczek, and her butt-kickin' role on Lifetime's The Division.TV Guide Online: What's the worst storm you've ever been in?
Nancy McKeon: Oh man, when I was very young and it was our first cruise. Two ships left New York for Bermuda and there was a huge storm. The other ship actually turned back but ours just kept goin'. And I was very ill — it was rough and scary, and heightened by being young and not knowing what's going on. The ocean and weather can be very humbling. TVGO: In Category 6, you're a reporter who criticizes the "dumbing down of local TV news." Do you have similar opinions?
McKeon: Yes. I think, unfortunately, in today's world, we're kind of about sound bites. There's two minutes between weather and sports to actually discuss what's going on. It's a bit of a shame. TVGO: Was this role a change for you?
McKeon: Well, I tend to be drawn to movies that are more character-driven and probably more reality-based. This is just a fictionalized storm and power crisis. And the [special] effects! They brought 747 jet engines on the street and rain machines. Those kinds of things were very different for me to participate in. TVGO: We've gotta ask. Did you know Jo from Facts of Life is a lesbian icon?
McKeon: (Laughs) I haven't heard that, but I think that's a wonderful thing. I think that was helpful to girls our age to have that kind of a role model, to see a girl who was strong and standing up for what she believed in, living her life on her own terms and not bowing to peer pressure and becoming a cookie-cutter person. And it was great to go to work and speak your mind all day long. I got the greatest lines and comebacks! TVGO: Are you able to speak your mind like Jo did?
McKeon: I'm a big believer in you can pretty much say anything — it's how you say it. TVGO: Ever been to Peekskill, N.Y., where Jo, Blair, Tootie and Natalie attended the Eastland School for Girls?
McKeon: I have never been to Peekskill. But, fun fact: Mel Gibson is from Peekskill. Most people don't know that. TVGO: Have you seen El DeBarge since he sung and danced on Facts?
McKeon: Oh gosh, no, that was just such a different lifetime ago. TVGO: Bummer. Lastly, in your role as Inspector Jinny Exstead on The Division, did you ever really get to do stunts and kick butt?
McKeon: Oh, yeah. It was fun. I looked forward to those days. I called it "playing cops and robbers." You get to go and really just be a kid and go tackle somebody or draw your weapon and [say] "Police!"