I meditate daily, it reduces stress and helps me focus the rest of the day. It also helps to keep our moral values in check. When we’re able to stop our negative impulses like rage and hatred, we can begin to appreciate and respect the people we interact with. All it takes is one small act of kindness a day to take step in the right direction. If I were to start a movement, I would call it something like “Spread kindness”, it can be as simple as holding the door for someone you don’t know. I once had a very nice experience at a drive through, when I was about to pay, the attendant said that the person in front of me had paid for my meal, they left a little note in a card with a bible quote. It was the kindest thing a stranger had ever done for me and it made me realize that we’re all capable of doing good deeds if we put our minds to it. It doesn’t take much to spread kindness instead of hatred and resentment. Maybe I’m naïve but I can still hope.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Nicky Mondellini. Nicky is an actress and voice over artist with a multicultural background that allows her to work in three languages in Television, Film and Theatre. Her voice can be heard internationally in commercial campaigns for TV, radio and streaming platforms.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
When I was 8 years old, I auditioned for the lead role in the dance recital at the studio where I took ballet, tap and contemporary classes. That year’s recital was called “The Moon’s Dilemma” and to my surprise I was chosen to play the moon, I was delighted! They brought in a drama coach to help us enhance our performance with truthful expressions and I really enjoyed the whole process. We did three shows and from that moment on all I could think about was performing on stage.
A couple of years later, my older sister and I auditioned for Mexico’s production of Gypsy, my mom, who was also my tap teacher, was going to be the assistant choreographer.
My parents had enrolled my sister in a Catholic school in the U.K. a few months before the audition and she was due to travel right around the time when the show was supposed to open, so the director offered me the role of Baby June instead. We did one hundred performances and then we went on tour around Mexico. That was the beginning of my professional career and I’ve loved every minute of it.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I played femme fatale Mistica in a soap opera called “María Mercedes”. The audition was held at the production building in Televisa, in Mexico City, in an office that had windows all around it. The actor that read with me wasn’t the actual male lead, but the producer asked me to kiss him in a very sensual way in front of a fully staffed office. It felt a bit awkward, but I really wanted the part, so I drew on my Method training, and went for it.
When the audition finished Mr. Pimstein (the producer) showed me scenes from “Who Framed Roger Rabbit” where Jessica Rabbit appears and said” I want you to do that character”, and I said” No problem!” They died my hair red and put me in a long black-sequins dress with a split all the way to my hip and gave me extra-long pink satin gloves. My character always wore the same clothes, just like a cartoon. I was the only actor who never wore anything else, except for a bright pink jump suit and pink knee-high boots with stiletto heels, and a pink helmet. Mistica is one of the most interesting and fun characters I’ve played.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
While performing on stage in “La Desconfianza”, an adaptation of the classical Spanish play “El Condenado por Desconfiado , my scene partners got entangled with the steel spikes in their head pieces. We played three dead virgins who in this scene were facing off three demons. The girls looked like young deer locking horns in a clumsy way, it was totally unexpected and hard to ignore by everyone else except for me because my back was turned to them. The actors we were facing off in the scene started giggling, and I got angry at them for not focusing. The fact that I had no idea what was going on behind me made them giggle even more, and then the audience started laughing, at which point I turned around and saw what everybody was laughing at, it took a few seconds for them to break free of each other and when they did we resumed the scene as best we could, but I felt like the odd one out because I was the last person to figure out what was going on, I kept expecting everyone else to stop laughing and continue with the scene.
What I learned from that is that accidents happen, and in theatre you need to be able to improvise and keep going, if you do it well the audience will never know a mistake was made and with obvious mishaps you can turn the problem into a happy accident feed off of the audience’s response.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I recently narrated “The Dark Side of the Moon”, which is a documentary filmed in Houston by Fabrizia Faustinella about the causes of homelessness, there are several interviews with homeless people which highlights their stories and makes everyone see homeless people in a different and more compassionate way.
Voice Over work is fascinating, when I was in Mexico I never would have imagined that one day I would have my own studio where I would be able to record, edit and add music to a wide variety of genres, from commercials, to promotional or corporate videos, museum audio tours and testimonials. I love projects that talk about history, medical discoveries or are advocating for social causes. And I’m blessed to be able to work in the three languages I grew up with, English, Spanish and Italian.
My career has taken an interesting turn ever since I moved to Houston with my husband and three kids in 2006. I wanted to be close to my children while they were growing up and having a recording studio at home allowed me to do just that.
I’ve been able to work in TV shows and theatre as they got older and I plan on continuing with every aspect of my career.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
One of the most interesting people I’ve ever met is Hector Mendoza. He was the director of the drama school I graduated from, he was also my teacher and has an impressive body of work as a playwright and director. He was regarded as Mexico’s best drama teacher and one of the top directors in the country.
He was a very generous teacher, during rehearsals for ‘La Desconfianza” he set up a workshop with the cast where we would do improvisations with the Stanislavsky Method, it kept us on our toes and enhanced our performance tremendously.
He would always rehearse for a longer period of time than any other director I’ve worked with, meticulously bringing out the best in each actor.
Another interesting person I worked with was TV producer Valentín Pimstein, he cast me in my first starring role in a soap opera. He was an intriguing man who would sometimes ride in public transportation around Mexico City and talk to people to find out what they thought about the soap operas he produced and which characters they liked. Then he used that information to tweak the stories and give people more of what they wanted to see on TV. His shows and soap operas always had the highest ratings.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Networking is one of the most important things a creative person can do. Specially as a young actor. When you join a class, you are networking with your classmates and your coach, and you find out how to find a good agent and what casting directors are looking for. Competition is tough, so it helps to meet the right people and create good opportunities for ourselves, as Seneca said “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity”.
We also need to have clear picture of what we want to accomplish and be very focused on our goals so we can stay away from things that will keep us from achieving those goals and take us in the wrong direction
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I meditate daily, it reduces stress and helps me focus the rest of the day. It also helps to keep our moral values in check. When we’re able to stop our negative impulses like rage and hatred, we can begin to appreciate and respect the people we interact with. All it takes is one small act of kindness a day to take step in the right direction.
If I were to start a movement, I would call it something like “Spread kindness”, it can be as simple as holding the door for someone you don’t know. I once had a very nice experience at a drive through, when I was about to pay, the attendant said that the person in front of me had paid for my meal, they left a little note in a card with a bible quote. It was the kindest thing a stranger had ever done for me and it made me realize that we’re all capable of doing good deeds if we put our minds to it. It doesn’t take much to spread kindness instead of hatred and resentment. Maybe I’m naïve but I can still hope.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1-Take a business class- Learning how to manage your income is one of the most important things you can do. There will be very profitable months and then there will be long periods of time without work, as we all know. So, spending all of your paycheck from the first big project you get cast in, will leave you in a tough situation if you don’t handle your money wisely.
2-Learn about Marketing — I had been taught that there was a difference between a star and a true actor, that stars were fame-crazy and not necessarily great actors. And I’ve always been a shy person, so I never considered hiring a publicist. I realized later that publicity is a very important part of being a working actor, emphasis on working. Now that I have a voice over business, I understand the need for publicity and good marketing. Social media is something all creative people must rely on to build up their personal brand.
3- Be nice to everyone- It’s amazing how much you can learn about every aspect of the entertainment business when you take the time to talk to everyone around you, from the PA and the make-up artist, to the crew members. I’ve picked up many tips that help me look better on camera from cameramen and lighting technicians. And I’ve also been able to recommend people for other projects. This is also part of building our network.
4- Don’t let fame go to your head- No one is indispensable, I’ve seen producers replace leading actors because their “prima donna” behavior was starting to cause problems and make them waist a lot of valuable time and money.
5- Always clarify the blocking- It’s better to ask questions during rehearsal than have the director yelling “CUT” because of your mistakes. I played a nurse in a scene, this was one of my first roles, and I was asked to place the nasal canula on the patient but the director wasn’t very thorough in her demonstration, so when the cameras were rolling I just placed the canula around his face but didn’t insert the small tubes in his nose, the director of course had to cut and she was angry because she had to come out and show me exactly what I had to do. That incident made me look bad but I also learned the importance of asking questions when things aren’t clear.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
Wayne Dyer said : ” When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change”.
I’ve found this to be great advice for those moments in life when I think there is no way out of a tough situation.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I don’t think I would have achieved success in my career without my mom. She has been a true example of success and perseverance. She is an amazing dancer and choreographer and she’s passionate about her work.
My mom was widowed at 38 and was left to raise three young daughters by herself. She had a tough decision to make, either go back to England and find work or stay in Mexico City where she was teaching at a dance studio and choreographing musicals and TV shows. So, she decided to stay even though all her family was in the UK and her extended family was in Italy.
My grandparents moved from the UK to Mexico to help, they stayed for about three years but the altitude in Mexico City was affecting their health too much, so they had to move back to England.
My mom also nursed me back to health from post-partum depression after my first son was born, her patience and wise words made all the difference in my recovery and I was able to continue working with renewed energy after several months of treatment.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)
I would love to have lunch with Alfonso Cuarón, I’ve admired his films since” Sólo con tu Pareja” he’s an amazing storyteller and director. I’ve seen several interviews of him talking about the making of Roma, and I think it’s fascinating the way he only gave every actor the scenes for each day instead of the whole script and he blacked out the other person’s lines to achieve more natural reactions. It’s a beautiful film and it brought back memories from growing up in Mexico in the 70’s.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can find me on Instagram as @nickymondellini