Talented actress Nicki Micheaux sat down to talk with me about her numerous roles in series such as “The Shield” and “Lincoln Heights”. Nicki also took us inside the upcoming film Lowlife and gave us a glimpse into the life of her character, Crystal.
In Lowlife, directed by Ryan Prows, the sordid lives of an addict, an ex-con, and a luchador collide when an organ harvesting caper goes very, very wrong.
Micheaux stars alongside Ricardo Adam Zarate, Jon Oswald, Shaye Ogbonna, Santana Dempsey, and Mark Burnham.
Horror Fuel: “You’ve starred in several impressive series in the past. Do you have a favorite?”
Nicki Micheaux: “There has been a lot of fun stuff. But I’ve always really liked ‘The Shield’ and the role I played, Detective Trish because she’s so dark and twisted, tough and a lot of fun to play. She’s struggling being a woman. The way she handles everything, I really identify with her. I love her.
Horror Fuel: “I’ve seen several seasons of ‘The Shield’. I really enjoyed it.”
Nicki Micheaux: “Oh, thank you. I also really liked playing Jennifer Sutton on ‘Lincoln Heights’ because of the way that character has impacted family audiences. It’s really great how people have gravitated towards those characters. It’s great when you can do something that really resonates with people.”
Horror Fuel: “Speaking of ‘Lincoln Heights’, how does it feel to be nominated for not one but two NAACP Outstanding Actress Awards?”
Nicki Micheaux: “It’s really incredible. I think they pick five nominees. There are so many actresses out there, so it really means a lot. It makes you want to do better work. It keeps you going.”
Horror Fuel: “Can you tell us about your most recent role as Crystal in ‘Lowlife’?”
Nicki Micheaux: “Crystal is a woman who has made a lot of bad choices in her life. When she was on drugs back in her youth she sold her child. Now as an adult she’s trying to rectify all her bad choices. Oh my god, she’s so dark and twisted. She’s a woman on edge trying to pull her life back together.
Horror Fuel: “Crystal sounds like an intense character.”
Nicki Micheaux: “She is.”
Horror Fuel: “You don’t see a lot of films like ‘Lowlife’, about organ harvesting.”
Nicki Micheaux: “[laughter] No, you don’t. You know, organ harvesting is a real thing too.”
Horror Fuel: “I actually watched a documentary about that a few days ago.”
Nicki Micheaux: “What was it? What did you learn?”
Horror Fuel: “It was a documentary series called ‘Trafficked’. Each episode is about a different thing that is trafficked throughout the world. The one about organ trafficking talked about the connection between places like India and America. It was pretty scary.”
Nicki Micheaux: “It’s crazy and it’s really scary, the dark things that go on out there. I recently read an article about how Atlanta is now a hub for sex trafficking. It’s huge. I guess it’s because it has a huge international airport. It’s awful that these things go on right under our noses.”
Horror Fuel: “I’m about two and a half hours from Atlanta. There was a case not long ago where a girl was saved from a trafficking ring while on a plane.”
Nicki Micheaux: “That’s something that I would like to bring more attention to, the trafficking that goes on in the U.S. It should not be happening.”
Horror Fuel: “It really shouldn’t be.”
Nicki Micheaux: “That’s what’s nice about ‘Lowlife’, it talks about these real things in a way that is accessible. It’s a crazy movie, but it talks about it is real stuff that we are talking about. It’s scary, but we give you a little bit of distance to the subject. You can tell yourself that it’s a movie.”
Horror Fuel: “What was your favorite part of filming ‘Lowlife’?”
Nicki Micheaux: “My favorite part was working with Ryan and all of us working together again. This is the second project that we’ve done together. There was just such a comradery on set. It’s fun and we’re doing our best to create something really cool. That’s the best part, just working with everyone. It really is one big, artistic family.”
Horror Fuel: “That sounds great. What was the first project that you did together?”
Nicki Micheaux: “I did Ryan’s AFIP film called ‘Narcocorrido’. That’s how I met him and the whole gang. That film was about a border patrol agent. I played the border patrol agent who is trying to rob these drug runners. It’s a dark movie. It was hard to film because it was so dark and because it was filmed at night. But it was great. That’s where we all bonded.”
Horror Fuel: “It’s awesome that you had that bond on the set.”
Horror Fuel: “You seem to play a lot of roles that have to do with criminal justice or criminals, is that what you naturally gravitate towards?”
Nicki Micheaux: “Well, I’ve been trying to get them to cast me as America’s Sweetheart [laughter]. They just don’t have those roles. The only one that I have played kind of straight is Jenna on ‘Lincoln Heights’. Most of the time it is all about the material. A lot of the time, for me as a woman, you don’t really get a chance to play the normal, girl with a guy. There wasn’t a lot of normal stuff for me. But on the flip side, I do get to play these roles of women with problems. I think that humanity has problems. I like to be a part of shining a light on it. A lot of us are dark and twisty inside. Humans are flawed. I guess I’m drawn to playing those real human parts.
Horror Fuel: “I love to see women play those types of parts.”
Nicki Micheaux: “It’s fun. I love roles that have a depth to them. Women are brilliant. Women are dangerous. Women are so many fantastic things. I have been really fortunate to play some really bad ass, dangerous, and sweet women. Trish was definitely dangerous and Jen was fearless and loving and has a heart of gold. Crystal is so determined to make her life better and the life of her child better.”
Horror Fuel: “If you could go back to before you had your big break, what advice would you give your younger self?”
Nicki Micheaux: “I would tell my younger self to, ‘follow your gut and that you are stronger than you know.’ The big one is to trust your gut. One of my teachers used to tell me, ‘You know what you know, what you know.’
Horror Fuel: “If you had to describe ‘Lowlife’ in three words, what would they be?”
Nicki Micheaux: ” Oh my god! I’m going to give you three words: crazy, wild, and bloody.”
Horror Fuel: “It sounds like my kind of movie.”
Nicki Micheaux: ” I know, right? Get you some popcorn. I can’t wait to see people’s reactions to this movie. It comes out in April.”
Horror Fuel: “Do you see any of yourself in your character Crystal?”
Nicki Micheaux: “I identify with how powerless she felt. There have been a lot of times where I felt powerless in my life, even if I wasn’t actually powerless. I understood that. For her, it has to get pretty bad before she realizes that she can take power over her own life. That was a big thing for me because I’ve been there.”
Horror Fuel: “I think as women, we’ve all been at that place in our lives at some point.”
Nicki Micheaux: “I don’t mean to overthink it, but as women, I feel like we’re born into it. The setup is you need a man to take care of you. No one walks up to a fifty-year-old man and says ‘I’m sorry you’re single.’ If women are fifty and single people act like you are supposed to have fifty cats or something. They act like you need a man to buy a house, you need a man to have babies. You know what I mean? You come into this world like you are the dependent, which couldn’t be further from the truth. You can either buy into that or you can break out of it. You can’t say there is someone to blame. It’s just something in our culture. It’s been around for so long, you don’t even think about it. Of course, I was going to go to college and get married, that’s just what you did. You don’t even think, ‘what is my choice in all of this?’ In other cultures, like India, you’re born into another set of cultural norms. Somewhere along the line, you have to define yourself, for yourself. That’s not easy at all. It’s tricky.”
Horror Fuel: “It is sad that women and girls are under so much pressure to be who society thinks they should be.”
Horror Fuel: “Lately, there has been a lot of attention on women in the film and TV industry, with all of the reports of sexual harassment coming to light. Has that had an effect on sets and behind-the-scenes?”
Nicki Micheaux: “A lot of stuff didn’t happen on set. On set for us is pretty much the same. In terms of that stuff, they passed out memos. You know what’s really changed? It’s been made really clear that if you feel like have a problem that there are avenues where you can speak up. Before, if I had felt like I had been harassed I would not have known where to go. Now, you have so many avenues where you can feel safe. That’s a big difference and now people are talking about it. That’s one thing about the generation coming up, so much is in the air. The #MeToo movement is more than Hollywood. Women are looking at themselves differently and asking, ‘Who am I?'” It is as it should be, wide open. Free will my friend, free will. What I love about where we live, the US, is the ability to be anything, do anything. There are many women all over the world who do not have that option.”
Horror Fuel: “It’s good to hear that there are ways to safely speak up. Women should be able to feel safe.”
Horror Fuel: “What projects do you have coming up?”
Nicki Micheaux: “I’m in season three of ‘Colony’. Speaking of bad ass women, I’m working with Sarah Wayne Callies, she did ‘The Walking Dead’. I come onto the show, well I can’t say, I’m not supposed to talk about that. That was really something. It comes on USA. That’s coming up. It was really fun because one, she’s taller than me and two, it was crazy because our characters are really strong and you don’t usually see that together. It was fun to play off of her.”
Nicki Micheaux is not only a gifted actress but a wise woman who understands what it means to be a woman, a wife, a mother. She also happens to have a great laugh.
Be sure to check out Lowlife this spring from IFC Midnight. “Colony” returns for its third season on USA later this year. Follow Nicki on Twitter for regular updates about her films, roles and more.