Alexa Nisenson: Facing Her Fears, On and Off Screen
No matter what life throws her way, Alexa Nisenson finds the beauty in it and works hard to overcome any obstacle she is faced with. Starring in “Fear The Walking Dead,” the talented actress opened up about her experiences on set, her struggles with anxiety, and her relationship with music. Truly gifted in all areas, Nisenson represents hard work, talent, and dedication. Focusing on bringing her best work to the table, Alexa Nisenson is in for a wild ride, so stay tuned!
On the set of “Fear The Walking Dead,” what is a funny moment you and the cast/crew shared?
I have to say that even though we film such a dark and intense show, we have had some pretty funny moments on set and I love them so much because sometimes you need that moment of laughter and humor to take you out of a really dark place emotionally from filming! First of all, anytime you are filming a scene that Colman Domingo is a part of, expect moments of non-stop laughing. He’s the funniest person you will ever meet and it could be this serious and intense moment and he will just come out with a one-liner that just breaks everyone. Same with Mo Collins. I actually struggle to keep a straight face when she’s delivering her lines. She’s just that brilliant! Most of the funniest moments though are really when its just all of us sitting in the cast tent singing and dancing or listening to each other’s stories! As a cast, we are kind of this big crazy family and we definitely spend a lot of time laughing together!
What is your favorite part of playing on the hit series?
The Walking Dead universe is so special! We are all connected and probably always will be one of my favorite parts of being in this world is the fandom. The fans of The Walking Dead shows are some of the most passionate and dedicated fans in the world. They come to conventions to support the casts, they tune in every week to watch the shows, they are amazing on social media with the love and support they give. Also, some of my favorite parts of being in this series is knowing how lucky I am to be given the chance to do the things they trust me to do. Being on this show, I’ve gotten to do my own stunts, learn how to play instruments, drive cars!! I have been so blessed to be part of amazing episodes and have the showrunners, writers, and producers write material for me that I have always dreamt of doing. I would say though that filming scenes in Austin, TX in 4 layers of clothing in 115 degree weather does not make it onto the list of favorite parts of the job!
How do you prepare for a role before stepping in front of the camera?
I don’t think I have a process that I stick to religiously necessarily! I think it really depends on the project. But any time I start a new project, I always take time and read through scripts a few times and make notes! I think as an actor you just, without even trying, start to put yourself in your character’s shoes and you have these moments without even thinking about it that you tap into the emotions and moods of the character!! Of course, it’s a bonus if you can meet and bond with some or all of the cast before you start to film!! Some projects you can do that and some you literally meet for the first time when you are rehearsing the scene you are about to film. But I think in general, I just get to know the material as much as I can and always make sure I am always prepared! I always go into a project or even a new episode of Fear with a vision of what I hope to accomplish and bring to the role. Sometimes that changes once you get into the process because creating on a set it so truly collaborative so sometimes you go to set one day thinking about your character’s perspective in those moments and through talking with a director or director of photography, it opens your mind to possibilities you didn’t think of and can even alter the choices you make and I love that part of the creative process. But t it always starts with ideas and a vision.
If you weren’t an actress, what career would you have pursued?
I don’t think I would stray too far from the creative world, to be honest! I think some people are just born to be artistic and actually need to be artistic. It’s in my blood. I have a major obsession with all things hair and makeup. I am fascinated with every aspect of it so I think if I wasn’t acting I would be a hair and/or make-up artist. Doing my own hair and makeup is definitely like therapy to me. It relaxes me but also I get really excited to try new looks and products and I love the creative outlet it gives me. Especially over the last six months during quarantine when creating on set wasn’t possible. I met my hairstylist (Ryan Richman) and makeup artist (Anton Khachaturian) when I was ten. They teamed up and created my Fist Fight premiere look and they both inspire me so much! They are two of the most talented people I know! After any photoshoot or event I will spend hours trying to duplicate the looks they create! It never looks quite like theirs of course, but I love trying.
When facing your fears, what are the ways that help you overcome them?
OK, that’s a great question and actually a really important one for me. I definitely struggle with fears and anxiety! I have to believe we all have fears throughout life though, right? And we all deal with them in different ways. I wish I could say I was one of those people that faces their fears head on to overcome them, but I’m not. Facing a specific fear is more of a process for me. I think one of those most important steps for me is talking about them! I have an amazingly loving and supportive family and a group of friends and I can go to them with anything. Talking it through helps me so much! I try to journal and keep track of my feelings and fears. Sometimes just writing them down and seeing it on paper makes me think to myself “oh wait – it doesn’t actually sound that scary now that I look at it”. And of course, I do try to face them when I am ready and there is something incredible about doing something or experiencing something that you were fearful of and proving to yourself how strong you are by getting through it.
What drew you to audition for your role on “Fist Fight”?
I was only 9 when I auditioned for Fight Fight. I was just starting out my acting journey. So you get the audition information from your agent each time and it gives you information about the character and the project and they send you the audition sides which is your script for the audition. From a really young age and even just starting out I was always pretty involved in that process. My parents always talked each audition through with me and asked me if it was something I wanted to do. When they told me about Fist Fight, I think right away I knew it was a once in a lifetime kind of audition for a kid my age. In one audition I got to do a crying scene (and I love me a good crying scene) and I got to curse and rap which is pretty cool if you’re nine! It’s amazing as an actor when you get to show so many different emotions and sides of yourself in one audition. The Big Sean song wasn’t the song they used for the audition but the one they did use was definitely similar. I just remember looking at my mom when I went to go practice it like…wait, can I really say this? You’re ok with it? But my parents were super supportive — they just made sure I knew that it was ok for the audition but that I couldn’t at 9 walk around the house dropping f-bombs. I loved every part of that project. The audition. The filming. Truly one of the best experiences of my life!
Tell us more about your relationship with music.
It started as kind of a love-hate relationship if I am being totally honest. There’s no short answer to this question actually. My relationship with music has changed so much in the last couple of years! Music is such a passion of mine. From the time I can remember I have loved music and loved to sing. I have always had a raspy voice though. It’s gotten a little less raspy as I have gotten older but I am still pretty limited when it comes to range and notes I can hit so it can be frustrating when all I want to do is sing a certain song, but I literally can’t because the notes are unreachable for my voice! I was always really self-conscious of my raspy voice but this year I have come to embrace it so much more! Singing brings me so much joy and recently I just celebrate the fact that my voice unique! I am learning to play the piano so I have been spending a lot of time writing music as well. It’s been an amazing outlet for me and I absolutely love it. I haven’t gotten to the point where I have shared any of my original music yet with anyone except my family, but I feel like it will definitely be sometime soon.
Do you see yourself adding “singer,” to your resume?
OMG, I’d love to!! I haven’t yet. There’s still this little part of me that is holding me back from doing it yet, but it’s definitely a goal of mine! To confidently add that to my resume and never look back.
Growing up, what was your go-to outfit?
Even at a young age it was changing!! I think when I was around 6-7 I was obsessed with anything from the store, Justice! The more it matched and the more glitter it had, the better. Then I grew out of that phase and and moved to a legging phase ages 8-10. I would not wear denim! So it was leggings every day. If it was warm weather, it was leggings and a tank top! If it was cold it was leggings and a sweater and boots. When I was about 10 I started attending movie premieres and really getting into fashion and started to figure out what my style vibe was. I met my stylist Lo VonRumpf when I was 11 and he has pushed me so much to get out of my comfort zone! One of my first fittings, I remember telling him I only wanted to wear pants and no skirts or dresses. He kind of looked at me for a minute and then literally pulled out these unbelievable dresses for me to try on and now I am obsessed. He has introduced me to the world of fashion and I love letting my style reflect who I am now and evolve as I get older. One of my dreams is to one day get invited to a fashion week show.
You are sent to space for a year. Who goes with you and what are your top 5 things you bring with?
So I literally just finished watching the show Away on Netflix, so it’s so funny you ask! There’s a scene where Hillary Swank is choosing what she is bringing with her on her upcoming mission and I literally did take a minute and think about what I would bring if I ever went. Who goes with me? Definitely my mom and dad. They are the best! I’d also want to bring a couple of my closest friends too but I feel like it would be really hard choosing which ones. Can I just bring everyone I know and love? Also, can you bring pets – are they able to go because I would want my dog with me if he could travel safely! I feel like I would just want a good variety of people that bring different qualities and skills to the table so all the bases are covered! My top five things…that’s so hard but here it goes 1) my keyboard 2) a photo album of my favorite pictures of my whole family and friends 3) a journal 4) either my AirPods or a portable speaker to listen to music 5) and lip gloss of course!
What projects are you working on now? If not, what’s next for you?
Headed back to Austin to finish the sixth season of Fear The Walking Dead! We had to shut down production mid-way through filming due to COVID. We are all really excited to safely get back to work so we can finish this season for the fans. So right now, my focus and schedule for the next several months will be dedicated to our amazing show. I have a blast voicing a character on a Cartoon Network show called Summer Camp Island and throughout quarantine, we were able to record episodes form the safety of our own homes. New episodes of that will be coming out and that’s just so fun for me and I am always excited to be part of that world. In general, I would love to get back into working on films soon if my schedule allows. I absolutely love doing television. It’s so incredibly special to play a role for multiple seasons and grow with a character over the course of a few years. Doing a film is such a different experience and it would be an amazing blessing if could continue to do both along the way.
Talent ALEXA NISENSON @alexanisenson
Photography BEN COPE @ben_cope
Stylist LO VONRUMPF @stylelvr
Hair RYAN RICHMAN @ryanrichman
Makeup ANTON KHACHATURIAN @antonmakeup
Interview by ALEXANDRA BONNET @alexbonnetwrites
Production @BELLOmediagroup x @maisonpriveepr_la x @alexbonnetwrites x @platformprteam