A publication of
Talent Development Resources
interview by Douglas Eby
Nicki's film roles include "The Dogwalker" and "Double Tap," the TV movie "Cruel Justice" plus several TV series including "Boy Meets World," "USA High," and "The X Files."
Referring to her role of the teen "Lily" on the TV series "Providence," Nicki explains "I was "basically brought on to play a character who was going to be very troubled, and not have a lot in her life, and only thinking of herself. Then as she began to get from the family, she became more likable, learned a lot of things, learned how wonderful life can be, then she gets killed and it breaks everyone's heart."
Lily was in a number of episodes, and Nicki says as an actor she liked having a regular gig: "It's nice whenever you know you're getting up and going to work for the day, and working with people you really like. When you lose that, it's always an upset, but then it's also a door for other things. You have to be optimistic and look forward."
Working on an episode of "3rd Rock from the Sun" was "a lot of fun" Nicki remembers. "You pretty much walk onto this comedic set every day. John Lithgow is just funny, and loves to make everyone laugh."
Nicki played a high school friend of Tommy. "I'd ask him if he wanted to go to the dance," Nicki recalls, "and he'd say 'yes' and then I'd go 'Oh, good. With my friend Beth?' It was never me that wanted to go out, it was always me asking for a friend. It was just a small role."
Nicki is from midwest, and notes she had "always done theater in high school, and then in college, at the University of Oklahoma. I was enrolled in the film program, putting together my own student films. But I was in Oklahoma, so the thought of actually being in this wasn't a reality, so in a sense I was also trying to find some degree that I might be interested in.
"I took a lot of different classes, but never quite hit that interesting thing that I wanted. Finally one day I decided acting was what I wanted to do, and go see if it's a reality. I packed my stuff up in my car, and drove out here [Los Angeles] and everything kind of worked out. I'm very fortunate."
She admits that at first she was very naive and "thought nothing bad could ever happen. And because of that, I was never very scared, but when it started to hit me that bad things do happen, it was just learning how to deal with things, with the business, and not take it personally.
"And not be hurt every time something didn't work out in my favor, and take it as 'Well, that's just as life unfolds' and where there's a loss, there's going to be a gain somewhere else. My agent and manager and family have all been very supportive. It's been hard to meet a lot of friends, just because I'm from a different part of the world, and it's hard being that busy."
Her previous life is "a world I'll never go back to" Nicki says. "Simply because there's nothing there for me, but it's also been very fascinating to discover that, because I didn't realize until recently that the world is divided up into separate pieces and parts, and everyone has their own little part of the world.
"Being an actor, you're put all over the map, you're meeting people from all over, you're doing movies in other areas, so you're moving around a lot, and you kind of feel you're on the outside of everything, which is a really strange feeling to have sometimes.
"You kind of feel out of touch, as an actor, because when everyone else is going to work at eight o'clock in the morning, sometimes I'm here studying a script. I don't have an office to go to every day," she adds with a laugh.
Nicki appreciates "Boy Meets World" as an example of a show for that dealt with everyday subjects, "and there was always an answer or a conclusion in the end," she says.
"I think if you're going to base your show on a learning experience for high school students or the younger generation, then you share the responsibility of making sure that you're getting the right message across, to be giving the best answer. And to make sure you're not sending mixed signals that are going confusion and problems that don't need to be there."
One of her favorite films was the NBC movie "Cruel Justice" last year. "My character Amy Metcalf was a seventeen year girl who's raped, and the guy that does it is caught, and is found not guilty," she notes.
"They make it look like it was her fault. This guy keeps taunting her, and what ends up happening is the dad gets so angry that he kind of goes crazy and hunts him down and shoots him in the middle of this carnival, so there are all these witnesses.
"Then I have to get on the stand at his trial, and say my father was in the right, because I felt threatened by this person. And that's the only small chance for him getting off for shooting this kid.
"But the problem is, my character didn't believe it was right for her dad to shoot him. So, I want to get my dad out of jail, but didn't really want to make the statement.
"There were a lot of dimensions to the part, which always makes it more fun to do. There was a lot to consider, her relationship with her father, and how she felt about the family being broken up and things like that."
"And people don't realize today that parents put a lot of pressure on their kids. They wonder why their kids are acting up, or they wonder 'What's wrong? Why is she drinking? Why is she going out and never spending time at home?'
"Well, look at home. Is what you have at home presenting a good environment for this person to want to be in? If parents are screaming and fighting all the time, do they really expect the child is going to want to stay there? Of course there are going to be problems, and you're going to have a high school student turning to drugs and alcohol, and hanging with friends, because they're trying to get out of the anxiety of staying in the house.
"And that's what this character was about, and Lily on "Providence" as well, is trying to run somewhere that's safe. Where is that safe place? When you're a kid, it doesn't exist, because you're running out with a bunch of other kids who don't know any better as well. So, I really like those characters that you can kind of sink into."
Nicki thinks a lot more could be done in films and TV to portray issues like rape.
"I don't know how easy it is for people to approach the topic," she says. "I think it's just one of those things that people have a hard time facing, whether it's happened to them or not.
"I work with a lot of teenagers. Acting roles of teens, I stay around them, and I like to try to be of help when I can. The problem I see now, especially with girls, is that there's such a fine line with rape.
"And the lines are not always there, because now you have the factor of drugs, and alcohol, so a lot of girls aren't even sure if it happened, and a lot of girls aren't even talking about it. A lot of younger boys, and older boys for that matter, are getting away with it, or are not even sure they've crossed the line.
"Because when you get all those other factors in there, they don't remember their nights, and no one quite knows for sure. So I think it would be a good idea to do some film about teen or college date rape.
"And I think the actual circumstances should be portrayed, because the problem really lies in the party and substance abuse life that that kind of contains.
"That's really why it's happening, not necessarily the fact of guys or girls not being able to control themselves. If there is anything we can do better to portray the real situation, it would be to show the lines really are smudged when it comes to rape, and that we need to start looking at those."
A topic she would really like to deal with is date rape in high school, "because so many girls are coming forward, and their lives are being ruined. You find out years later that they feel maybe they were date-raped, but they've been blaming themselves for three years because they were drunk. And that shouldn't be the case. Everyone should be talking about it now."
Working fifteen and sixteen hours a day, she notes, makes it hard for her to find time, but she would like to get more involved with some organizations.
"There's a program I've been trying to find called W.A.R., Women Against Rape. It started in a high school, with a couple of girls that came forward and wanted to talk about, and by the end of the year, the room filled up with other girls.
"There are all sorts of programs like this you can get involved in. I've also worked with some orphanages, gone in and talked with kids or spent the day."
"As I progress in my career, I want to use whatever that gives me, money or status, which it can and will give both, to use that. I've thought, what can I do for other people with this career. Maybe one day when my career is bigger and I'm in more control, then I'll have more money to help out programs as well. That's what I'm aiming for, is to financially help out, because that's really what it takes."
Nicki received fan mail when she was playing 'Lily' and says she would "love to encourage younger people to write me letters about what's going on.
"I don't even have a television, I hardly ever watch it, but I am familiar with the new shows about teens, because I have to be up on them.
"What I think is really important, and I'd like to urge anyone who does a teenage show, who represents teenage life to teenagers, to understand they have a responsibility to make the right decisions, and put across a message that's going to be helpful.
"Some of the shows are very sexual, and I've heard comments like, 'Well, if parents don't think their kids are talking about sex, they're wrong, they're just in denial.'
"But we also need to ask ourselves, are the kids very interested in sex because they're seeing it all the time, and they look up to these people? I'm not saying that's why, I'm just saying that question needs to be asked. Is our younger generation seeing too much sex on these shows, and that's why they've become more sexual?
"But where I think you have to take responsibility is that you're not just selling sex, but you're also dealing with sex, and in a respectful way. Again, I'm not saying there should not be sex on the shows, but is it being talked about correctly?"
Nicki emphasizes that young people do pay attention to shows and actors such as herself: "It's amazing the amount of response that we get from high school people around the world. We have such a power in our hands to help, and to provide a certain amount of self esteem. I think it lies with us to take control of things that are going wrong."
~ ~ ~Originally published on teen site CulturalCool.com
A publication of Talent Development Resources
Development Resources pages:
~ ~ ~