Where is UMKC taking you?
I’m getting my MFA in acting. I had never been to the Midwest before coming to UMKC, but I felt a great connection to the program. I am going back to New York City for the Actor’s Showcase to perform for agents and directors. I’m hoping that UMKC will take me onto my next step in my career.
Why did you choose UMKC?
I did URTAs (a unified audition) and wanted to see what was out there. I met Ted Swetz (UMKC professor of theatre and acting) in New York City and also saw him speak. There was an energy about him and I felt that I had to work with him. I felt very connected, so I left home without even visiting Kansas City.
What led you to UMKC?
Just the connection of knowing that this was a good fit for me. It made me realize that I wanted to gain more technique. This has been huge for me. It is what makes me an artist now and not just an actor.
How has college inspired you?
I am the eternal student – constantly trying to absorb technique and inspiration. Being that this is my second time in school it has been a completely different experience. Getting my MFA was a personal choice and something I was craving after working professionally in my field in New York. I appreciated school more because I had been without it for two years. What truly inspires me is being surrounded by people who have made that choice to improve upon themselves, in whatever capacity.
What are your lifelong goals?
I’d love to make a living off my art. People always ask you if you want to be on Broadway or in movies, but that doesn’t matter to me.
Are you a first generation college student?
I was the first of my immediate family to graduate from college. Both of my parents attended college but never finished. It was a proud moment for us when I finally did. Now that I am receiving my MFA, that is a first for our family as well, and I am glad my family is flying from New York to celebrate it.
What’s the best piece of advice you have ever received from a professor?
My favorite advice has been to take my work seriously and myself lightly. It’s important to stay focused and devote myself to the craft of acting; however, I need to find joy in it. I need to laugh, and be myself, and be willing to fail. It has been great advice in a lot of aspects of my life.
Who do you admire most at UMKC?
I admire quite a few people, but I have a deep appreciation for my period styles movement teacher, Jennifer Martin. She has this incredibly nurturing disposition and has lived and experienced so many things, it is mind blowing. She has inspired me by teaching me about balance. We often started class saying together “first I honor life, and with it, my life in the theater.” I need to remind myself of that more often. What is it to honor life entirely? I need to take care of myself and Jen was always there to guide and influence how we did that.
What motto do you live by?
I got my motto from UMKC. Take your work seriously and take your life lightly. You have to be able to laugh at yourself and you have to be able to fail, otherwise it’s a long road.
What excites you?
Passionate people excite me, people who take ownership of whatever they are doing. They have confidence.
Who inspires you?
Comediennes like Lucille Ball and Carol Burnett are my heroes.
What got you interested in performance?
I started theater in fifth grade. I was Glinda in “Wizard of Oz.” My parents just let me do my thing. I got involved in theater at school and eventually, got a theater arts degree in undergrad.
Do you still get performance anxiety?
Yes, I do. The anxiety comes before you give it to the audience. When I’m on stage, I’m not myself. Also, being prepared takes it away. I tell myself to have fun, that this is storytelling. It’s a combination of self plus imagination. If I can find the balance, I am in the clear.
What is one word that best describes you and why?
Quirky. I am a little unconventional, a little eccentric and a little zany. I think I tend to surprise people when they get to know me — and that’s a good thing!
Nicole graduated in 2015 with an MFA in Theatre.