Nikki SooHoo is what every great role model should be. In addition to doing various charity work, graduating Summa Cum Laude, and mentoring the youth…she is a wonderful actress! She believes that each opportunity is a different experience for her to learn from and the more experiences she has, the better actress she will be. Her body of work casts a wide net, from films like Peter Jackson’s The Lovely Bones, Music High, Stick It; to television shows such as No Ordinary Family, Private Practice, Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Phil of the Future, Drake and Josh, and The War at Home. I had a chance to catch up with Miss SooHoo to discuss everything under the sun. Read below for the full interview…
It’s been a little over a year since you graduated. Has ‘life after school’ gone the route you expected? Or have you had some unforeseen challenges arise?
Nikki: I didn’t really have many expectations coming out of college because my plan was to give myself a year to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. I was hoping I’d run into many challenges so that I could really test myself and see what path I’d choose to take. It’s been a great journey for me. I’ve learned a lot about myself and I feel it’s been one of my biggest personal growth moments I’ve ever experienced.
How were you able to balance your television work and your formal studies? Is there a certain discipline you had to develop in order to do both?
Nikki: I was raised to highly value my studies since my mom is a Professor at Chapman University. Once I grasped the concept that my abilities didn’t have to be limited to doing one thing at a time and that it was possible to be an actress and go to school, it was simple to balance the two. I just took every conflicting situation one by one and evaluated which was more important to me at that time. Actually, I realized that I’m the type of person that does better when I have a lot of different activities going on so they both contributed to the success of the other.
You participate in a lot of community outreach dealing with students who are on the cusp of figuring out what they want to do in life. What is the most important message you try to instill in the kids that listen to you?
Nikki: BE you and DO you. You are great just how you are. Everyone is unique in his/her own way so walk proudly in your own skin and you will attract greatness. Dream big and don’t let anyone or anything stop you from doing what you really want to do. If you believe you can do it, and put the positive energy out in the Universe that that’s what you want, you will achieve it.
You worked with Peter Jackson on ”The Lovely Bones’. I was curious to see how you prepared for your role. Did you read Alice Sebold’s original novel prior to shooting? Did reading the book change the way you viewed the film?
Nikki: I did read the novel prior to filming. I actually read it prior to auditioning for the film so it definitely informed the way I developed the character. One reasons I believe Peter is such an amazing director is because of the way he worked with me on creating my character; from coming up with a back-story of where Holly came from and what her life was like, to finding the perfect costume, to adding the simple touch of an Asian accent. Throughout the whole process he took into consideration my feelings and thoughts on the character and together we created “Holly.”
How do you feel the current state of Chinese-American actresses are portrayed in Hollywood? Do you feel actors such as Bai Ling and Jackie Chan have opened doors, or do you experience any cultural roadblocks in terms of getting roles or opportunities?
Nikki: I really think that the business is moving forward and becoming more and more diverse and open minded. I definitely believe that without Jackie Chan or Bai Ling, we would not have the opportunities that we currently have. I think the industry needed to move through a process to gain trust in Asian actors. As viewers continue to be accepting of diversity, the networks will feel more and more comfortable hiring Asians actors. Asians are starting to take on some leading roles in mainstream TV and films and it’s very exciting.
You have an extensive list of work in television. As you make the transition more into film, what is the biggest difference between being on a movie set and working on television?
Nikki: TV tends to move much quicker than film. A hour-long TV episode might take a week to film but an hour and a half long movie will take at least a month. I feel like in TV, you will experience many different situations as your character, because each episode can take your character into a totally different place. When you shoot a film, the story has a beginning middle and end already set and only so many different events can happen to your character, but you get so much time to really live out those moments in your characters life.
What are some of your favorite Asian films or Anime?
Nikki: If we are talking strictly Asian films, not Asian American films, then some of my favorites are “Fearless” and “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.” If we include all films that have a predominately Asian cast, I’d say some of my favorites are “Joy Luck Club,” because it’s a classic, and “Memoirs of a Geisha.”
Could you tell us a bit about ‘Music High’? What can we expect to see this summer?
Nikki: “Music High” was a fun project to work on. We shot in San Diego. I played the role of “Natasha” who was the outcast, bad girl, dark and introverted student of the group. I wore a fake lip ring and painted my nails black. It was really fun to play a character that I don’t normally get to play. We had a great cast and crew, which made the project really fun to work on. Each character basically got to shoot his/her own music video, which was fun as well. I learned how to sing a song in German!
Aside from the projects we mentioned above, what else can you spill the beans on? Can we look forward to more movie roles from you?
Nikki: Acting will always be apart of my life, so you can definitely expect to see more movie roles in the future. I’m about to start production on a film that’s currently titled “Run.” This time, I get to play a manipulative sidekick to the bad guy. I may look sweet, but deep down inside I am bad girl (in the film).
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