Lydia Nicole is the type of person you can’t quite categorize. She goes far beyond the traditional labels of writer, filmmaker, or actress. Expression seems to be the driving force behind her life, whether it’s in front of the camera, behind the scenes, or bringing a one woman show to life.
She began her career in the music industry; first as a teenager in her hometown of New York working at radio station WBLS, then eventually finding herself in Los Angeles working for the cutting edge Casablanca Records, whose founder, Neil Bogart, signed such diverse acts as Donna Summer, Parliament, and Kiss.
Nicole branched out into acting, and she has many credits in both TV and film, including “The Jeffersons” and “Hill Street Blues” on the small screen, and films such as “Indecent Proposal,” “Hollywood Shuffle,” and “Stand and Deliver.” Nicole’s ethnic background (African-American and Puerto Rican) also gave her the basis for her comedy act, which she honed and toured with nationally, landing her in several TV specials.
While she has enjoyed success across multiple platforms, it may be her one woman show entitled “A Rose in Harlem” that has been most satisfying to her. Based on her experiences growing up in a volatile environment, “Rose” shows how you can overcome adversity with dignity, hope, and humor. Her abilities as a writer and actor are quite present, as Nicole transforms herself into 25 characters in a riveting look at Latino culture from a unique viewpoint.
Nicole’s recent work includes working on Robert Townsend’s documentary “Why We Laugh,” which explores the role of African-American humor and comedians throughout history and which garnered acclaim when it played Sundance in 2009.
Nicole also reaches out to troubled and incarcerated youths, trying to teach them self-respect and skills that she hopes will go beyond prison walls. Some of these workshops include A Garden Party and Boys to Kings. The former teaches female inmates life lessons through caring for gardens that they themselves planted; the latter is a workshop aimed at young men and the rites of adulthood. She sat down with Reel Talk for an interesting look at her life and career.