Retta plays Ruby Hill on the NBC show "Good Girls" and played Donna Meagle on the hit show "Parks and Recreation."
Photo: Josh Stringer/NBC
Photo: Josh Stringer/NBC

Actual Factual Cobb: A hookup from Cobb gave NBC star her stage name

Howdy! This is "Actual Factual Cobb," and thus is much better than the rest of the Internet. In this column series, I — Ben Brasch — will keep rootin' for answers and tootin' news about Cobb County from questions you ask until the esteemed AJC fires me upon realizing how much of the newsroom's coffee budget is expended on me.

It’s OK if you don’t understand the connection between the wife of a U.S. senator who died outside Athens in 1830 and the niece of a Liberian president who won a Nobel Peace Prize.

That’s why I’m here.

So there’s this comedian and comic actor who goes by Retta. She played Donna Meagle on the super-duper popular NBC show “Parks & Recreation.”

She was recently on NPR’s Chicago-based program “Wait Wait ... Don’t Tell Me!” to promote her other NBC show “Good Girls” and her new book.

The show started off talking about how her real name of Marietta Sirleaf became Retta.

READActual Factual Cobb: How did the county's cities get these crazy names?

According to the NPR transcript, it went like this:

When I was in college, I hooked up with this guy from Georgia, and they pronounce Marietta, Ga., May-retta. And he started calling me Retta as if I allowed it and my friends thought it was hilarious and so they insisted on calling me that.

She went to Duke in North Carolina, so I’m not sure why the concept of a southern accent was so funny to them but oh well.

And then so when I first started doing stand-up, I was doing an open mic and the emcee came out and said, who's next? I was like me. He's like what's your name? Marietta Sirleaf. What? I was like just Retta, and that's how I got Retta.”

I tweeted at Retta to get the name of the hookup so I could confirm her story, but she hasn’t responded. YET.


Now as we all know, the city of Marietta is named after Mary Moore — the wife of Thomas Willis Cobb, the namesake of Cobb County who was U.S. Senator and a judge of the Superior Court of Georgia before dying in Greene County in 1830. She died before he did.

Liberia President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, left, appeared in Guinea on Aug. 1, 2014. (Youssouf Bah/AP)

As for the Nobel Peace Prize connection I mentioned what seems like an eternity ago in this article, Retta is the niece of 

Liberia’s first female president Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

Sirleaf’s election in 2006 made her the first female head of state in Africa. She left office in January 2018.

READLiberia’s roots planted in America

In 2011, she and two other women were given the Nobel Peace Prize “for their non-violent struggle for the safety of women and for women’s rights to full participation in peace-building work,” according to the prize’s website.

Her aunt’s prize was also a topic during the NPR interview.

“I got more calls about her being on Oprah than her winning the Nobel Prize,” she said to laughs.

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In other news...

Val Kilmer has officially joined the cast of 'Top Gun: Maverick', opposite Tom Cruise. The highly anticipated sequel to the 1986 movie classic now has its two original leads in place, with sources revealing that Val will reprise his aviator character Tom 'Iceman' Kazansky, in the project.

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