From the stage to the computer screen, Anyone But Me star Nicole Pacent is flexing her acting muscle. The out star of the breakout lesbian-themed web series found time amid shooting the show's second season to star in Eric Overmyer's noir-ish play Dark Rapture, produced by The Attic Theater Company, which she helped to found during her days at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts.
The young actress, who plays the adorable, occasionally a handful of a lesbian teen, opposite Rachael Hip Flores' Vivian, grew up in the theater, starring in everything from homegrown performances in her backyard to Chekhov at NYU, and she's happy to be home playing a beret-sporting Cuban American, if only for the play's short run.
SheWired had the honor of chatting with Pacent last May and inadvertently became the first media outlet to report her real-life Sapphic leanings. Now that the whole 'being out' thing has full disclosure, we sat down with Nicole to chat about Pacent's return to theater, winning first runner up in SheWired's Gay Woman of the Year contest, her status as a Dinah Virgin (and as a single girl) and her pick to win an Oscar.
SheWired: First, I have to say congratulations for giving Cathy (DeBuono) and Jill (Bennett) a run for their money in our SheWired Gay Woman of the Year contest.
Nicole Pacent: Thank you so much. It was incredible. The last couple of weeks of voting were pretty insane. The people that came out and voted were insane.
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I know. You did really well! While we believe that Cathy and Jill are wholly worthy of their crown it wasn't exactly a fair fight since they have videos on our site. Their fans knew where to find them.
Oh whatever, its okay. Honestly, it was great because I knew of them, but I didn't know as much before the whole thing and I started really following them more. I thought it was such a wonderful way for everybody to connect to who's out there and doing stuff right now. I feel like my awareness of who's out there doing wonderful things for the community was heightened because of it. So I was really grateful just to be able to witness it. It was cool.
Yeah? Well that was kind of our overarching purpose. I'm glad it worked! Now we just have to come up with some way where we can actually crown you guys...
[laughs] I'm around whenever you figure it out.
Well I wanted to talk to you about the play you're in -- Dark Rapture. I'm a big supporter of theater and excited to know that you're doing this. You went to school for theater correct?
I went to NYU Tisch so I studied drama all through out school. And really, Tisch is SO theater centric. From my understanding, places like UCLA and USC are way more into film, which makes sense, being that they're out there. But with NYU, we got such little on-camera experience. What's funny is, Anyone But Me was kind of where I got on camera professionally for sure. And I watch the first couple episodes and I cringe because I can see how uncomfortable I was on film. Where as I've just been raised in theaters. I've been acting in plays since I was three. It really just feels like home to me is and its very natural. Because of the work I've been doing, this is actually the first play I've done in like a year. So this is a lot of fun, and actually I was a founding member of this theater company, The Attic Theater Company.
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For some reason I thought that company had been around forever. I don't know why but it sounds like a real kind of stalwart theater company. How did you come to help found a company?
Yeah, it's a great name right? It actually was born out of our company class at the Atlantic at NYU. Eventually I was put in The Atlantic, which is maybe what you were thinking of. The Atlantic was started by Bill Macy and David Mamet.
Macy and Mamet? Is that all?
Yeah. You can go onto your third year if you want and you can go onto a company class. It's all about building a company and you build from the ground up. They give you the funding obviously, which in the real world, we know doesn't happen. For the purposes of this, they give you a budget and you have to figure o
ut the rest. We put on a show at the end of that, our third year, and the company continued on. This is their fifth production. It's a play by Eric Overmyer that we actually studied while we were in school. It's a modern day film noir but on the stage. It's really very unique in that sense but a lot of fun. There are femme fatales and money has been stolen and no one knows where it is and people died but are they really dead?
So I Imagine lots of shadows and light and hats.
Oh yeah lots. In my first scene I have a beret on. I get to wear red lipstick the whole time. I'm very excited.
Well that's a change from your Anyone But Me character Aster. Is your hair blonde like a femme fatale?
No I'm actually Cuban American. That's part of why I was cast. Nobody knows what ethnicity I am, which is kind of cool. So I went in there with my Cuban accent and had an audition. It's like a return home for me, this play.
How long was the rehearsal process?
It was a month and five weeks maybe and we had a break in the middle for Christmas and New Years. We opened on Friday and technically the four shows we had over the weekend were previews and I feel like the show grew enormously in that time. It's exciting to be going to tonight's show and be feeling great about it.
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How was the response for the previews?
The response was great actually. It's a show that keeps you on your toes because it's noir. If you're familiar with it at all the whole time you're guessing is this person lying. What's their back-story again? I had a lot of people tell me personally that they had a lot of fun just watching it and watching the parts I was in, and I enjoyed that. I think that's the best barometer for if it's going well. If you're having fun then it's probably going well. If you're not and you feel like it's pushing something its probably not going well.
You said you've been acting since you were three. What was your first role?
The earliest memory I have of acting was that I used to organize on the playground, plays of The Little Mermaid and Star Wars, which I love to this day. I cast myself as Ariel and Leia. But my first memory of acting and being in a show is in Jonah and the Whale at church and I was a little sea urchin. My mom got the coolest shell bathing suit and she put glitter on my face. I absolutely loved it.
When you were at Tisch what was your favorite role you played or production you were in?
The first thing that comes to mind is Nina in The Seagull.
Oh, only a Chekhov play... Do you have a dream role?
It's funny. My dream role is Hamlet. It's hard; you picture the playwright and think 'should you really do that?' If there could have been an all-male Hamlet at some point, which there obviously were, then there should be all female versions. I feel like why not?
Agreed. Now, from classical to very contemporary, have you completed shooting the second season of Anyone But Me?
We are not. We're in the thick of it right now.
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Now that you're into the second season, have you been overwhelmed by fan response?
Only in the best of ways have I been overwhelmed. I have felt so accepted and embraced by people. It's been extremely humbling and the best part about it is I get messages every day on Facebook from fans all over the world talking about how the show and my role on the show and how my relationship on the show has given them hope in their lives and courage to just make them figure out they were gay, or maybe to come out to their families.
That's amazing to me. What a gift to be able to have a personal passion for something that affects others that way. I feel so completely blessed. Doing theater you have an immediate response from everyone and that's great but its not nearly as far reaching as something on camera. That's kind of a whole new world. I'm like 'wow' you can really affect people by the work you do and that's really important.
You are definitely out in the world now. And speaking of which, are you going to be at Dinah this year?
Oh God. This has been on the brain. It's been on my mind because I really want to go because I've never gone.
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So you're a Dinah virgin.
Yes, I am a Dinah virgin. On a personal level I really want to go. Any excuse would be fantastic. At this point were not at a point where the production can pay for us to go. It's just not at that point yet. Now we may be shooting over that weekend.
We'll put that out in the world. A fundraiser -- maybe a bikini carwash -- to send Nicole to the Dinah!
Please do. But it will require me to go to the gym heavily between now and then but I'll do it.
When we met you at Pride last June you were single. Are you still a single lady?
I am still single. There was a bunch of confusion over that because of the whole launch party. There was a picture of me and my date. People started talking after that. We are no longer dating. One of my friends Googled me and was telling me some stuff. Apparently there's like a discussion board...
Ah yes. Those anonymous sites -- populated with miserable computer nerds.
They were ripping me apart.
They rip everyone apart.
How horrible do you have to be do that? No one deserves that. It was so strange...
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Ignore them. They're like Fred Phelps and Ann Coulter. If no one listens to the vitriol then they have no power.
They're just people with too much time and a little jealousy.
Exactly. So moving on to stuff that really matters! Are you excited that it's award season?
Oh my gosh yes! I had to miss the Golden Globes. I forgot what I was doing but it was a night I had a rehearsal or something. I called my best friend to say can you DVR this? And she wasn't home and I figured it would rerun somewhere I thought I could find it online, but no. It sucks! I missed the Golden Globes but I obviously did all my research. I watched the prize speeches afterward. The Oscars...I cry every year.
Do you have someone you'd like to see win the Oscar this year?
This year, I would love to see Mo'Nique win. That movie really got to me because I actually tutor and teach in Harlem. It was a real eye opener in terms of what happens behind closed doors. I hope she wins.
Dark Rapture runs through Feb. 6th at the Connelly Theater, 220 E. 4th Street. Get details here.
Anyone But Me will air all-new episodes beginning Feb. 23rd with a special guest star.
But watch for news from now until then to whet your appetite and keep you from withdrawal pangs.
Get more great interviews and entertainment from Tracy here!