1. Share with us a bit about your background, what was your upbringing like?
I'm fortunate to say I loved my upbringing. I was born in Chicago to two amazing parents - my mom, a Irish Scottish white woman from Chicago, and my dad, a Caribbean man from the island of Nevis. I loved being bi-racial growing up; the town of Oak Park, IL that I grew up in was very diverse and I had friends of all backgrounds. Hence it was always a supportive environment for me and I developed a great appreciation for different races ethnicities and cultures.
I was always active growing up. I enrolled in dance classes at age 5, played soccer from age 7 and up, ran track, played volleyball, and was constantly on the go from statewide dance competitions to overseas soccer tournaments or summer camps to family vacations. My upbringing was abundant to say the least. Thus, it comes as no surprise to me that I lead a very bustling lifestyle as an adult, for me, the more multifaceted my life, the better.
2. Where are you currently living now and what excites you about it?
I am currently a resident of Harlem, NY, however, I have recently been become bi-costal between NY and LA. Bi-coastal life is exciting in itself. I get to pursue my dreams in two different cities, expanding my network on two coasts and broadening both my experiences and opportunities. I love NY, there is no place that can quite compare. The abundance of culture in the city is what got and kept me hooked. I've spent nearly 9 years here feel like a true New Yorker. Being a New Yorker definitely made it a challenge for me to fully embrace Los Angeles, however, I am firm believer that you must give what you want to receive, so I pour positive energy and good vibes into LA as I slowly but surely grow to love it and hope it loves me back.
3. Based off our conversation, and just observing you, I can tell you live a healthy lifestyle. What does a typical routine day look like for you?
Haha on a good day... I naturally wake up early with an immediate appetite. A large glass of water is absolutely necessary, flush away those toxins, and then I eat a pretty simple breakfast of greek yogurt and granola. I switch up my exercise routine daily. I try to at least do one of the following each day: hot yoga, SoulCycle, a dance class, a Hudson River run, a track workout, or even simply Abs in my room. As long as I break a sweat and release some endorphins I feel physically accomplished for the day. At the very least, I do a lot of walking in the city, ie: to and from castings, dance auditions, my agencies, running errands, or meeting friends, and I'm an perpetual subway rider so I definitely get my steps in around the city daily.
4. How did your affair with dance begin and what have you learned from it that easily applies to life?
My affair with dance began from watching old movies with my mom, like my all time favorite Singing in the Rain. I was obsessed with watching musicals and reenacting the song and dance numbers, memorizing not only the dance steps but each actors dialogue as well. I would perform for family members constantly and begged to be put in a dance class. From there, I was able to hone my talents and feed my passion. My father was also dancer growing up, but of a much different nature. He toured the Caribbean islands as a Masquerade folk dancer -- a native dance that requires great rhythm and finesse, so to him I owe some of my innate rhythmic abilities. He would often show off his dance moves, challenging me to mimic his steps and style. The pairing of his West Indian grooves, with the classic techniques seen in the musicals gave me a diverse outlook on dance and a wide appreciation at a very young age. I'm grateful to have had artistic influence from both of my parents and their differing cultural backgrounds.
5. As a model and dancer, you obviously get exposed to a lot of people and experiences. Is there anything from each that you were initially surprised to discover that you weren’t expecting but have now accepted in view that it’s part of the business?
I wouldn't say there was much that totally surprised me about the industry on either either side. If anything, the harshest reality to face was that there is no straight road to success and more doors will be shut than open on the journey to the top. I once thought I could accomplish all that I wanted as a professional dancer in about three years after graduating college, as I planned to attend law school at the age of 25. How very unrealistic of me.
With each year my career kept evolving, with both failures and triumphs leading me down unexplored paths. I also learned that I had to stop comparing my successes to the next dancer or model beside me. Each persons journey is different, especially in this industry where so much is out of our control. As opposed to other careers, dancers and models lead very subjective career path so it takes all kinds of twists and turns that you yourself can only do so much to control. However, it breeds strong individuals that are confident in who they are and what they bring to the table. It takes a strong backbone to be turned down left and right for having the wrong body type, skin complexion, height, or hair texture for a specific job.
These criteria are a matter of opinion to the client and one may hate your natural style groove and vibe while the next client may make you client muse. We learn quickly in a profession geared towards esthetically pleasing the public eye that you must take the good with the bad, not everyone will love you and that's okay.
6. You’ve traveled quite a bit but if you were to pick just one place to visit for the rest of your life where would it be and why?
Thus far in my travels, my favorite region to visit has been the Caribbean islands. I'm obsessed with the culture; the food, weather, scenery, music, dialect, and way of life are a pleasure to be a part of on my many visits. I definitely want to spend a good chunk of time living on a West Indian island at some point in life, but it's hard to chose which one! However, I am also fascinated with South America and am dying to get to Brazil.
I love Brazilian cuisine, movies, dance and music, and I am very intrigued by the country as whole. So I must answer this questions in two parts: 1) if I had to visit one place I've already been to regularly for the rest of my life - it would be the Caribbean, hands down! One disclaimer is that I could island hop since I can't just chose one ;) However, 2) if I had to chose one place I haven't been to visit for the rest of my life I would chose Brazil because of the South American/Latin American/Caribbean similarities and based what I already know and love about the place. Plus with Brazil being such a large and diverse country, there would be many places within to explore!
Being able to combine my creativity, body awareness, stage presence, and comfortability in front of a camera with the power of voice, character and role playing has proved to be an exhilarating challenge!
7. What’s next for Nikeva Marie?
Just as I didn't see the bridge between dancer to model, there was also fog hiding the bridge between dancer/model to actor, but I can see clearly now! It has all been a process of growth, discovery, and rediscovery. I allowed myself to fully explore my passion for dance, which as a tall dancer in NY led to modeling opportunities. I openly began to dabble and before long, I created a dual career for myself as both a dancer and model. As a dancer and model, I was readily exposed to other actors while booked on various commercial, television, and film jobs. I was increasingly approached about acting from other actors as well as casting directors and agents.
I started enrolling in classes, and quickly developed an enthusiasm for acting. Being able to combine my creativity, body awareness, stage presence, and comfortability in front of a camera with the power of voice, character and role playing has proved to be an exhilarating challenge! I'm eager to improve as an actor and to see where my capabilities as a now dancer model and actor will take me.
Never have I ever been so excited about the unknown. It feels like a breakthrough to be so comfortable with the uncertainty of my life due to my chosen career path that is inevitably ever-changing. I have grown confident in my talent and abilities to achieve things I never imagined I would as a child. With each year, my network and opportunities have expanded in both intentional and unintentional directions. And with an open mind, I gratefully accept the twists and turns, ups and downs, ebbs and flows of this rollercoaster of a career I have chosen. I'm the main character of a movie I don't yet know the ending to and it's a thrill to watch it play out!