“Fringe” Benefits: A Conversation with Jasika Nicole

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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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