“Fringe” Benefits: A Conversation with Jasika Nicole

 
 

AE: Can you reveal how your character is going to grow?
JN:
She definitely starts to become more involved as the other
members of the team become more involved. Instead of it just being very
textbook, and then trying to figure these things out separately from what’s happening,
they’re all kind of knee-deep in everything that’s going on. So I think you get
to see her be a little bit more vulnerable. You get to see Astrid as being a
more human character with flaws and with emotions that you didn’t really get to
see before. It was slow to build up, but now that it’s happening, it’s really
satisfying for me.  

AE: What is it like working with Anna Torv [who plays Special Agent
Olivia Dunham]?
 
JN: She’s awesome. I really like the way that our characters are
eventually going to connect in the show. I think that she’s really smart and
she’s funny, and I love watching her in this show. I think she is so good. And
this is a lot of pressure. I would imagine that this would be overwhelming for
anybody to do.  

You’re in a new country, and you have to speak without your native accent.
And then you have to know all of this dialogue and work with all of this
scientific lingo. That’s a huge deal and she does it with such grace and such
good energy that it’s absolutely mind-blowing to me.  

I think she’s just absolutely amazing and I’m so excited to get to work with
her.  

Nicole (left) and Torv

Photos credit: George Holz/FOX

AE: Now, would your character and hers be connecting in the way that might
be of most interest to the AfterEllen.com audience?
 
JN: No, no. [Laughs.] That won’t be happening. Not that I know of, but
of course, there is a Season 2, so who knows? But it’s more like she just looks
up to her so much and they actually have a really nice conversation about how
Agent Dunham’s character, she gets scared, and she has anxiety, too.

She just doesn’t show it, but she has a little bit of a heart-to-heart with
Astrid’s character. It comes out really nicely, I think. 

AE: You dance, draw and act. What connects all these activities for you?
JN
: Oh my gosh. I wish I knew. It’s just, these are the things that I
know how to do, you know? And I don’t think I was ever at a place where I was
nervous or anxious about following those paths. I was never good at math. I was
never exceptional at science. I made good grades because that was important to
me, but you know, half the stuff was kind of going over my head. I was just
doing the homework. That’s not where my talent lies. All of what I feel good
at, and I feel confident and satisfied with, happens to be in some kind of
artistic format. And I was really fortunate to have parents who were completely
encouraging and supportive of that. So I guess that’s the main thread. 

AE: Who are your artistic heroes? 
JN: You know, I am always so inspired by musicians. They just blow my
mind because I don’t understand how it all connects together. I love Sufjan
Stevens. I love the Talking Heads. I always feel like if I was able to make
music, that’s the kind of music that I would want to make.  

I like projects that people work on, but there hasn’t ever been any one
person that I can think of that I always followed and said, “Oh, this is what I
want to be.” 

Maybe Tina Fey — because she’s such a Renaissance woman. She has her hand in
so many different things, and I think that is really incredible. I guess I just
admire her. What she does is such a big deal to so many people in that she’s
able to write, and she’s able to perform, and she’s able to produce, and she’s
able to come up with an idea in her head, and then, a short time later, she’s
moving forward with that process. And that is really, really motivating.  

Because I think it’s really easy for people to have immense talent and then
not know what to do with it or where to go from there with it. I feel a lot of
times we are own worst enemy in that we hold ourselves back, or we get lazy or
we procrastinate and nothing moves forward. And here’s a woman who has done
huge things in this business in a relatively short period of time.  

AE: Did you give great consideration to the thought of being out in your
industry?
 
JN: I will be totally honest with you and say that there really wasn’t a
decision that I made. I didn’t feel like there was an alternative. I was
completely unwilling to lie about who I was, or to

try and hide who I was with. That was never something that I would even
consider doing.  

It wasn’t until I started getting bigger parts and being seen for more stuff
when we [she and manager John Essay] had to actually have a conversation about
it, which I totally didn’t want to have. And of course, my manager is looking
at it from a business side of things and saying, “I absolutely support you and
I support who you are, but I would like to have a conversation about what
lengths you’re willing to have your personal life dictate your professional
life if it comes to that point.” 

And I absolutely understood where he was coming from, and in another place
it was really frustrating. But I’ve got to say, we only had to have that
conversation once, about two months ago. And I was pretty straightforward with
him, and I think he absolutely understood where I was coming from and was
supportive of that. But he needed us to have that conversation to make sure we
were on the same page. 

Jasika Nicole and her girlfriend, Claire Savage,
pose for The New York Times


Photo by Jacob Silberberg/The New York Times

AE: Have you ever had any fears or felt any regrets about your
decision?
 
JN: I really haven’t, and I guess it’s because I haven’t felt any
adverse effects come from it. I’ve only been getting more people reading my
blog and more people writing and saying, ”Hey, I see what you’re doing and I
really appreciate this,” or, “I have a cousin who is queer,” or, “I am a
lesbian,” or, “I’ve been with my partner for this many years and it’s nice to
see you being proud of who you are.” 

It’s not that there is a dearth of out people in the world. It’s just that
there aren’t a lot of us in this specific industry. That’s the tricky part,
because this is the entertainment industry. This is what so many people pay
attention to. 

I guess you have to make the decision, “Do I want to be the token person in
this community, or do I want to hide it to keep my personal life private
because everybody deserves to have the right to privacy?” 

It’s just such a weird, complicated little mess in my head, but everything I
always come back to is that I am not ashamed of who I am and who I’m with, so
there is no reason for anybody else to be feeling that way, either.  

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