Cece from ‘New Girl’ Was Never Just a Sidekick

Celebrating over 10 years of one of the first Brown women who got to be hot, smart, funny — and a lead.

Sadaf Ahsan

December 6, 2022

Cece from ‘New Girl’ Was Never Just a Sidekick
Hannah Simone as Cece (New Girl)

“Being Brown, you have the wisdom of 1,000 white women.”

Truer words hath never been spoken by one Schmidt of New Girl to love-of-his-life Cece Parekh. Played by British Canadian actress Hannah Simone, Cece was indeed smart. And — unlike most other South Asian television leads in 2011, when the show premiered — she was also funny and hot. 

Cece started as the main character Jess Day’s childhood best friend-turned-model. She was set up to be a foil for Jess’s cutesiness with down-to-earth advice and an “I’m sexy, and I know it” vibe. As one part of an Emmy-nominated sitcom ensemble, which included Jess (Zooey Deschanel), Schmidt (Max Greenfield), Nick (Jake Johnson), and Winston (Lamorne Morris), Cece may have started as a sidekick, but as the series evolved over its seven seasons, so did she, pivoting from a best friend and love interest into a full-fledged lead as she fell in love, and became an entrepreneur and mom. 

Never once defined by her ethnicity, New Girl’s Cece was, well, something new. Although the sitcom premiered to rave reviews, it remained a largely low-key hit but found new love and popularity on Netflix in March 2020. Amid lockdowns and binge-watches, New Girl became one of the year’s most streamed titles. It seems right, then, to finally give Cece her due. As one Twitter user declared in 2016, “cece from new girl should be every brown girl's inspiration,” and another said recently, “cece best new girl character i dont make the rules.” We call that longevity.