A Goddess Behind the Turntables & the Silver Screen | Ms. Nix
Taking on the arts at an early age, Nicole Lyn aka Ms. Nix was born to be a star. The Canadian native has proven throughout her career that there is no limit to what she can do - from acting to DJ'ing, she has become a standout experience curator for our generation. Her bubbly personality and hard work has landed her opportunities to work with big name clients like HBO, Vanity Fair, H&M, and more. We spoke to Ms. Nix about her life as a DJ, career challenges she's faced, and so much more. Read the full interview below.
You started acting at a young age. Was it difficult for you to adjust to the acting environment because you were so young?
Oh, I came out of the womb a performer! I started acting on television at 7 years old, but I had been dancing basically since I could walk, and I put on shows for my family every chance I had. Even though I was young, I never had to be coaxed or encouraged, it was something that felt natural to me and happened organically. My mom's sister was a working model in Toronto, and happened to be babysitting me on the same day she had a go-see for a Jordache campaign. They needed kids too, and I ended up being cast. That was my first job, which led to commercials and then TV and film. It's an unconventional and often arduous environment for a child, but I loved everything about being on set, and I still do.
You’ve mentioned that DJ’ing sort of fell in your lap. Is there a correlation between that craft and acting? How has DJ’ing changed your life?
DJ'ing was something I always had an appreciation for. My dad was a club DJ when I was very young and I had friends in high school that had sound crews, so I had seen it up close and was curious about it. When I lived in LA, I signed up for a 6-week course at Scratch Academy, just as a fun thing to do. When I realized how much I liked it and that I didn't suck, I took more course levels and started to play at friends' parties here and there. That's kind of when it took on a life of its own. From the time I decided I really wanted to learn about the craft and culture, I took it seriously. I sought out opportunities to expose myself to it, I talked incessantly with teachers and mentors I respected, and I practiced and prepared a lot. Those things didn't fall in to my lap at all.
I absolutely see both acting and DJ'ing as forms of storytelling and ways of exploring our psychology and humanity. The best actors and the best DJs have a lot in common: they take people on a journey, they don't patronize their audience or take shortcuts that compromise the experience, they are always engaged with their environment, and they have a desire to connect with people.
DJ'ing has changed my life in so many ways. Apart from the development of a second career, it has facilitated some profound personal growth for me. Some of the results of that are learning to expect and accept change, knowing how and when to assert myself, being less risk averse, or alternately, being scared AF about something but doing it anyway.
How do you prepare for an acting role?
I think every role calls for a slightly different approach. But what is always necessary is embracing a character's traits, behavior, choices, likes/dislikes, etc. without any judgment. We all have ways of being that serve us, whether we are conscious of the reasons behind them or not. I can't read a script, judge what my character does as something I would never do or have no experience with, and leave it at that. I have to find a way to relate it to something real for me.
What role was the most fun to play for you and why?
Well the thing is, for an actor, fun can sometimes mean a role that stretches you in ways that can be uncomfortable and actually not fun at all, but the challenge is thrilling and deeply fulfilling. So it's fun in that satisfying "whoa, I actually did that" kinda way, which I experienced when did Feast Of All Saints. It's also fun to play the wild child, because, well, that's something I'm not! I got to do that in Love Jacked, the movie I just finished shooting in Canada.
Tell us about your biggest career challenge to date and how you overcame it.
When I first started DJ'ing, I had this fear of being not being taken seriously. I became so focused on validating my place in a culture and industry that was completely new to me, that I kind of shied away from telling people that I am also an actor. It seems crazy now, that I thought being more than one thing would somehow make me appear less competent or legitimate. As time went on, and I hit certain milestones as an artist, found balance, and stopped giving any f*cks I never should have given in the first place - I realized that position was no longer serving my career or my happiness. I knew I missed acting and had even more to offer after discovering and nurturing other parts of myself. I had to figure out how to reconcile all of that and own every aspect of my artistic integrity. Then I had to go after what I wanted, which meant starting over in many ways, not making any excuses, and being more transparent about my goals and desires than I had ever been before. It felt excruciatingly vulnerable at times, but I'm better for it and things are definitely looking up!
“I absolutely see both acting and DJ'ing as forms of storytelling and ways of exploring our psychology and humanity. The best actors and the best DJs have a lot in common: they take people on a journey.”
Playing for a New York crowd can be quite challenging. What do you think is the key to keeping a crowd excited at a party?
There's always a lot going on in New York, so people definitely aren't short on options - and good ones, at that. Music selection is make or break, obviously. I think taking risks with what you play, and creating an atmosphere that feels spontaneous and inclusive, contributes to the party's energy staying up and away from the same old stale patterns.
I love the relationship you have with Jasmine Solano and Martina McFlyy. The three of you seem to have a special bond and it’s a great example for women all over. How important is it for you to keep a good circle of people around you?
Jasmine and Martina are genuine, beautiful women, both inside and out. We have the truest admiration and respect for each other, and our friendship has brought many personal and professional blessings into my life. In that way, our bond is no different than the the ones I have with the other incredible women I ride hard for. Real friendship is something I think most people can relate to, but the interesting thing to me is that it's often considered unusual that Jas, Martina and I are all (women) DJs AND real friends to each other. The implication is that we should feel compelled to compete with each other, an idea we reject wholeheartedly. Proving that isn't the basis or even the best part of our friendship, but if we are an example of how not to be threatened by other dope women doing dope things, I'm down for the cause!
That said, having people I can count on to tell me the truth, show me different perspectives, encourage me on my worst days, celebrate with me on my best and show up for all the mundane/melodramatic moments in between, is not just important - it's everything to me.
In a city like New York, for some, ego can get in the way of opportunity. How have you stayed grounded while still climbing the ladder of success?
Entitlement, rudeness, constant complaining and taking yourself too seriously all the time are just icky to me. Those are things the ego feeds on. For me, staying grounded means being open and receptive, treating everyone (not just the people who can do something for you) with kindness and respect, and most of all, showing gratitude. Those things mean something and leave positive, lasting impressions with people who always have a choice in who they want to work with again.
What do you have in mind for the next year, 5 years?
I just want to keep growing as an artist, creating more of what I want to see and hear in the spaces that I love. Development, producing and directing various scripted, unscripted and music projects are on the agenda. And maybe a boyfriend would be nice.
What advice do you have for women who aspire to be an actress or a DJ?
Embody your individuality and invest your whole self in your craft. Learn the business. Find your tribe. Create your own opportunities. Never play small to make others feel comfortable. Be as gracious as you can. Hype is hollow, what you want is respect, so be willing to earn it. Don't compare your journey to anyone else's. And don't give up.
Name 3 of your role models and how they inspire you.
I'm not sure I have chosen role models, per se. To me, the label doesn't leave much room for nuance, flaws or quirks - all the things that make us complicated and human. But I am inspired everyday by people I love or whose work I admire. And whether they are entertainers, entrepreneurs, writers, activists, parents or athletes; they are clear about who they are and what their purpose is. Some people I am particularly keen on right now are Ava DuVernay, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Jesse Williams, Eartha Kitt, and Michelle and Barack Obama.
What does MISSBISH mean to you?
Becoming the fullest expression of yourself and living an empowered, inspired life.
Check out an exclusive mix provided by Ms. Nix herself below.
Photos by: Paristoribio