BELLO YOUNG HOLLYWOOD to be featured in September 2020 issue.
Nicole Maines: Breaking Barriers and Promoting Change
Nicole Maines, who plays in DC’s “Supergirl,” spoke with us at BELLO about her career as an actress, as an advocate, and as a transgender. In the series, she brings to television the first transgender superhero to life which represented a monumental moment in her life. Having always advocated for hers and others’ rights, Maines has witnessed and seen many moments of injustice in her life which pushes her to speak up and ensure everyone is heard. Her beautiful spirit beams on and off screen as she struts her way to the top. Talented, fierce, and enchanting, Nicole Maines brings to us a breath of fresh air…Let’s see where she goes next!
By Alexandra Bonnet
Share with us what meant the most to you about playing on DC’s “Supergirl.”
Obviously one of the most valuable parts of getting to play Dreamer is being able to be the one to bring televisions first trans superhero to life. That in itself is monumental. Personally, though, it felt like a confirmation that I’d found what I was meant to do. I had gone so long getting no work at all that when I got the role of Laurel in Bit, and Nia quickly thereafter, it felt like a sign saying, “girl, you are exactly where you need to be.” And now I get to do what I love and portray this fantastic, groundbreaking character, and I get to watch people fall in love with her and become invested in her journey. It has been so endlessly rewarding to receive all of the love for Nia and for Dreamer- from both folks who are and are not members of the LGBTQ community. I was worried that this character wouldn’t have a lot of appeal outside of trans folks, but seeing people who are cisgender and straight talk about what a fan of Dreamer they are has given me so much pride. That has to be the most rewarding thing. Seeing this character, created for the show, rise up and become a fan favorite. That’s a dream come true.
What was your first reaction when you got the call you booked the show?
When I got the call that I had landed the role, I was asleep. Like I mentioned, I was filming my vampire movie “Bit” at the time, and the thing about vampire movies is that you do a lot of night shoots. So I had just gotten home from a long night at probably 6 in the morning, and I was catching up on my z’s. Just as I was about to break into that sweet R.E.M. sleep, my agents called, and they were all on the line, and they told me that I had gotten the part on Supergirl, to which I replied “Oh really? That’s awesome!” and went back to sleep. It didn’t sink in for a while after that. The whole thing was so surreal. I still have moments on set that are like an out of body experience where I will recognize what I’m doing and where I am and freak out for just a second.
In what ways do you believe your role in this show has a positive impact on its audience?
Nia has a positive impact on the audience because she makes people happy. She is showing people that trans is beautiful, and she’s breaking down stereotypes, but she is also more than that. She is simply a great character who has truly blossomed into someone unique and entertaining to watch every week. That alone is a lot. When we watch shows and we find characters that we just vibe with and we love, watching them brightens our day. And Nia is a character that I think a lot of people can get behind and root for because she is so upbeat and she has had so much growth since she was introduced in season 4. You root for her because she is so earnest in everything she does and even though she stumbles, she always manages to get back up. She has had fantastic highs and crushing lows, and they have all helped to flesh out her character and transform her into the sweet, witty, punny, courageous Nia/Dreamer she is now, and so having a character like that who also happens to be trans has a huge impact. It is one thing to see a trans character, it is another to love a trans character. And Nia is someone you just can’t help but love.
How has acting helped you in your personal life?
Acting has made me so much happier. It is something that I absolutely love to do and there is no better feeling than getting paid to do what you love. Before Supergirl, I was going to college where I was not passionate about my studies and was about to go into my senior year thinking that I needed to completely change my major, and I was just uninterested in the whole thing. I was bored to death. I had been auditioning for years without getting anything and I was about to give up. I figured that I needed to get realistic about my career expectations, and just then was when I got the lead in Bit (thanks, Brad) and then the role of Nia. It was fully my Wizard of Oz, sepia-to-technicolor moment. Now I get to do what I love with people that I love. I get to play dress up all day and run around in a super suit and pretend to shoot energy blasts out of my hands. I even get days on set where all I have to do in a scene is fall asleep. It is the stupidest job in the world and I wouldn’t want it any other way. I love it.
Tell us about a time in which you witnessed injustice (against you or someone else). How did you confront it?
Oh man, how much time do you have. The short answer would be to pick up a copy of Becoming Nicole: The Transformation of an American Family. When I transitioned in elementary school, things were going really well (aside from the bullying that led me to not being able to ride the school bus but, hey) and we were working with the school and it was great. When I was in fifth grade, a student in my class’s grandfather, who was a member of a right-wing religious group, caught wind that I was using the girls’ bathroom and decided to make a political statement against me. He had his grandson follow me into the girls’ bathroom, and threatened the school with a lawsuit when he got in trouble saying “well if this boy can use the girls’ bathroom, why can’t my grandson.” In fifth grade, I learned what real hate looked like. This boy had been going around saying “My grandpa says that we don’t have to have any faggots in our school.” The school pulled me out of the girl’s restroom and sent me to a private bathroom, isolating me from the rest of my peers and sending a message to the community that I was too different to be allowed to exist in the same public spaces as my classmates. This extended to field trips, where the school would call ahead and tell the museum or wherever we went that I was not to be allowed to use the women’s bathroom at their facility. I even had a bodyguard who would follow me around school to make sure that I wasn’t using the girl’s bathroom. Kids picked up on that and started to police me too. We went to a play at the high school and some of my classmates stopped me at the door and told me that I wasn’t allowed to use the girl’s bathroom. Side note: the highschool didn’t have a gender neutral bathroom. This all led to my mom, my brother, Jonas, and I have to leave the school and move to another city two and a half hours south where we could start over. My dad had to stay behind so he could keep his job at the university. We didn’t live together for another six years.
When you hear the word “Beauty,” what does it mean to you?
I think beauty is something that is both internal and external. Pretty is surface level, but “Beauty” goes deeper. I think that beautiful people are those who bring love with them wherever they go, and they share that with those around them. I also think of “-and the Beast”. I love that one.
What was the hardest obstacle you faced during the Doe v. Clenchy Supreme Court Case and how did you overcome it?
The hardest part of the whole process was when my mom, brother, and I moved to Portland and had to live apart from my dad. We would only see him on weekends, and that meant that he would miss sports games, school plays, birthdays, and some holidays. It got to the point where it just felt normal, and I think that is the saddest part. It was weird when he was home for more than a day and a half. Fortunately he was eventually able to move back in with us, and he and I have since been able to travel together speaking about our experiences and that’s become a kind of father-daughter activity that I’ve felt has helped make up for some of that time apart.
Tell us more about your relationship with art. How do you incorporate it on a day to day basis?
Art for me has always been something that I love. My mother is an extremely talented artist, so I grew up surrounded by her paintings and illustrations. Drawing has always been something that I love to do, and I even considered it as a career path before acting took over. I studied studio art in college and while I did, and still do love to make art, there is something about when it becomes work or I have to create on a deadline that takes the magic out of it for me. I realized that art is the thing that I do for me, and I don’t like to have to create on a deadline or for somebody else. I still draw all the time and I’ve gotten pretty good at digital art (if I do say so myself) but it’s not really something that I share on social media that often. If I know that something I’m working on is going to be posted, then it creates a whole other level of added pressure for it to be completely perfect, and that perfectionist side completely takes over and it stops being fun for me.
When life gets you down, who/what do you turn to ?
Sleep. And my mom. I call my mom then I go to sleep. One of those will make me feel better. If all else fails, ice cream. But then I feel bad about how much ice cream I ate, so I go back to sleep.
“That’s the problem with most people: they dream about what they want to do instead of really doing it.” -Whitney Houston as the Fairy Godmother, Rodger and Hammerstein’s Cinderella (1997)
Can you tell us a bit more about future projects/plans?
There isn’t a lot that I’m working on right now that I can talk about at present. BUT! I can say that there are more than a couple really exciting things in the works and I am so excited to share them with everyone, so please absolutely stay tuned because it’s going to be wild! What I can say is that we are about to start filming Supergirl season 6 and I’ve gotten the first couple of scripts and it is going to be off the hook. It starts at 100 and I think people are going to love it! I know I do.
Talent NICOLE MAINES @nicolemaines
Photographer FRANZ MAHR @franzmars
Creative Direction ALEKSANDAR TOMOVIC @alekandsteph
Styling SKY JT NAVAL @sky_is_dlimit
Hair ALEX THAO @alexthaohair
Makeup FRANCIE TOMALONIS @francieluxe
Interview by ALEXANDRA BONNET @alexbonnetwrites
Production @BELLOmediagroup x @maisonpriveepr_la x @alexbonnetwrites