Check out our interview with Los Angeles based actress & comedian Nicole Travolta who just debuted her one-woman show at the legendary Groundlings theater in Los Angeles, “Doing Alright.” Both nights (1/30 and 2/20) sold out in just days.
The show’s director is Groundlings well known main company member Lauren Burns. The show is based on Nicole’s life experiences growing up and adulting. Bad with money, but great with a spray gun, the show is a hilarious story about a compulsive shopper who freed herself from debt and shame with a spray tanning gun (and some interesting clients.) Nicole plans to expand the show to more theaters and cities in the coming months – multiple more shows in LA are being announced very soon!
Nicole is a gifted impressionist, especially notable are her Jennifer Coolidge, Carrie Bradshaw and Samantha Jones (from Sex and the City), Elizabeth Holmes impressions that have tens of thousands and in some cases millions of views.
Nicole has trained at The Groundlings and UCB, and has also appeared in sitcoms, such as Two and a Half Men (CBS), The Middle (ABC) and Anger Management (FX).
Follow Nicole on IG @nicoletravolta and on TikTok @nicoletravolta
Hi Nicole, please tell us a little about you?
Thank you so much for having me! I was born in Los Angeles, and before my parents got divorced we moved to Orlando, FL. Living in Florida was…wild, to say the least. My high school stories are all so “advanced” compared to my friend group now. I tell them some of these stories and they are like, “WHAT?!”. I always knew I wanted to get back to LA because of acting. I moved back when I was 19 years old. I started booking jobs here and there, and eventually found my voice in comedy!
I have two dogs that I treat like my kids. I love music festivals and the thought of aging out of them is one of my biggest fears. I love to travel and want to do more of it. I’m an avid coffee drinker, even though I’m pretty sure it contributes to my millennial anxiety!
Describe yourself in 3 words?
Caring, bold, determined
How did you get started into acting?
I’ve wanted to be an actor since I was a little girl. I started out performing for my family. I’d make them pass out Oscars to me after my performances. The bonus of that is you always win! The entertainment industry has always been a part of my life, so at-home performing quickly turned into me dreaming of becoming an actor full time. My parents very much wanted me to be a kid, despite me begging them to let me be a child actor. I know that they were making sure I really wanted it, since the business is so tough. Now, as an adult, I completely understand and support this decision, lol! As I got older I started doing plays and small parts here and there. I played Miss Hannigan in my school play of “Annie”. Eventually I was able to get an agent and quickly ended up booking a role on the show “One Tree Hill”. I had one line and I still remember it – “Hey Hailey. There’s a tall dark hottie waiting for you in the green room. Says he’s your biggest fan”. Truly after my time on that set, it solidified that I didn’t want to do anything else other than be an actor!
How has this changed your life?
Acting has changed my life in so many ways. It’s taught me to be strong, resilient, and really go for something that can sometimes feel impossible. We are in the business of dreaming. And you really have to believe with your whole entire heart that you are going to make it, without any doubts. Being an actor also makes me feel free. You get to dig deep and embody different characters. It can be so vulnerable, and I think that is a beautiful thing.
What is the best and worst part of being an actress?
The best part is getting to play different characters. Digging from your own life to bring people to life. It’s thrilling to take risks and try different things.
I would say the worst part is the uncertainty of the business. Which is why I always say creating your own content, or writing your own stories that you want to tell, is so important! It makes you more in control of the process and keeps you creative.
How do you prepare for a role?
I like to think about how the character lives each day, down to the little things. How do they walk? What do they eat? Are they coffee drinkers or tea drinkers? What are their friends like? I’ve gone so far as to journal from the character’s perspective. The more you can live in them, the more you start to become them. I think these things help bring a character to life because it makes them human. If they have an accent, I work on that. Their mannerisms; those are probably my favorite things to work on because I love over the top characters.
I work on the dialogue. I say it out loud as much as possible. I also firmly believe in working with an acting coach! It’s so helpful to have someone throw different ideas at you and force you to take risks. I take acting class at John Rosenfeld Studios, and all of the coaches there are top tier!
Now tell us about your standup comedy talent. Where the talents comes from and how do you get inspired for new content?
I would consider myself more of a storyteller and creator of characters/impressions! I look up to so many of my friends that are stand up comedians and what they do is a GIFT.
For creating original characters, it can come from being in a grocery store and spotting someone with interesting behavior! Suddenly you’re in the canned food aisle searching for olives, and you can’t wait to get home to write your new idea based on someone you just spotted in the store. A character can also come from what’s going on in the world. That can strike up an idea of how a specific person would deal with a specific situation. I recently was on the treadmill and the woman next to me was talking at volume 100 while she was walking. It was so over the top – I instantly thought of a new character.
For impressions, it really comes from my fascination and love for the public figure. I really try to turn them into a heightened version of themselves. Make their vocal range and behaviors more extreme. I like to have them do normal things, but make it a very over the top experience. I love watching the impressions grow and get better and better!
Tell us about the experience doing a one-woman show at the legendary Groundlings theater in Los Angeles with “Doing Alright” and to have sold out both shows. That’s amazing! Big congrats!
Thank you so much! I can’t say enough about this experience! It’s hard to find the right words. I am so grateful to The Groundlings for having me at their theatre. Everyone that works there is BEYOND amazing. And it’s just such an iconic place! So many people I look up to have performed there. Every time I step foot on that stage I have to pinch myself. My director, Lauren Burns, is a member of the company and directs many of the shows there. I was in her class and we had such a connection. I told her my story and she immediately said she wanted me to help me write it and direct it. We spent a year building the show together. She is a mega talent and I am so so lucky to have her on this journey with me. The first show sold out in less than 3 days, and the second show sold out a month out from the performance date. I was blown away!
What is the show about?
“Doing Alright” is about how I was a compulsive shopper that hit rock bottom. The spending led to a mountain of debt, a divorce, and a whole lot of shame. I was a working actor, but the depression was so bad I really just stopped getting jobs. I took a job as a spray tanner, and it became the very thing that saved my life. I take you on a journey through my life, really starting with my parents. I start with specifically my mom’s upbringing and her marriage to my dad. It’s really a story of how life imitates life and what you have to go through to break the cycle. Since I do impressions and characters, I take you on a ride of some of the…shall we say eccentric, tanning clients I’ve met along the way.
With two shows under my belt, the wildest part of this whole experience has been the outpour of love that comes after. Not only are people getting a laugh, but the story is hitting the audience in ways I couldn’t have imagined. I got a message from someone I didn’t know the other day telling me how my story made her feel less alone. The tears wouldn’t stop spewing out of my eyes for a solid 10 minutes.
Do you have future show dates and if so, where people can get tickets?
Yes! I am so excited we are coming back in May!
May 1st at Dynasty Typewriter. Tickets aren’t up yet, but they will be soon here!
May 8th, 9th, and 23rd we are back at The Groundlings! You can purchase tickets via this link
Now tell us about your experience on working in popular sitcoms like CBS’s “Two and a Half Men,” ABC’s “The Middle,” and “Anger Management?”
Each one of these jobs was such a dream! Everyone that worked on each set was so nice. I spent a lot of time on “Anger Management”. Charlie Sheen was a force at his job. I’ve never seen someone memorize material so quickly. And he is SO funny and great to work with. I learned a lot from watching him work and how he would try different things. He was always very gracious and would ask “does this work for you?”. I was supposed to be on that show as a one time guest star, but they ended up writing my character in for multiple episodes. I’m forever grateful to those writers!
“Two and a Half Men” was in front of a live audience and a dream come true! The show ran like a well oiled machine. “The Middle” felt the exact same. I’ve been super lucky that each and every set I’ve been on has been fantastic and such a learning experience. And the fact that on these sets you’re getting to laugh and call it work? Nothing better.
What other projects have you been part of?
I also worked on “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, and “Hawaii Five-0”. I got to go to Hawaii to do a guest star on “Five-0”, which was a pinch me moment! Me and a group of very talented friends of mine put up the Leslye Headland play “The Bachelorette”. I played the role of Katie. I loved every minute of doing that show. I was in the thick of going through my divorce, so getting to be on stage felt like a form of therapy.
What kind of roles do you like or would like to play and why?
I love over the top characters, but also grounded, funny, strong women. The balance of being able to go completely absurd, and also being able to play with grounded comedy is exhilarating to me.
Any advice to up and coming actors?
Keep going. Don’t worry about what other people are doing. Stay in your lane. Pave your own way. Bring your creativity to life by writing your own content, or creating your own characters. Lean on your peers. They are going through the same journey you are and it’s so helpful to have people in your corner that will support you!
What do you think makes someone great comparing to other comedians?
The risk takers. The comedians that take big swings and don’t hold back. Especially women! I love a strong, bold woman that’s not afraid to speak her mind and tell her story.
What is the most rewarding part of your work?
Getting to embody different people! Seeing the work come to life. For me right now, doing my show, it’s connecting with the audience. What a ride it is to tell your story to a room of people and feed off their energy and take them on a wild ride!
How would your best friend describe you?
I decided to ask one of my best friends, Saff. It’s hilarious and I’m copying and pasting the direct quote:
“A kind soul made up of equal parts hilarious, sweet and salty – the ultimate ride-or-die with flawless skin who never says no to a good time and lets the real ones put her on a time out when things don’t go her way.”
What’s next for Nicole Travolta in 2023?
I’m doing some serious manifesting here, but taking my show to other cities. Specifically New York. Getting a run of it. I have so many big dreams for “Doing Alright”. I believe in it, and can’t wait to see where it goes.
More TV roles! Getting “Doing Alright” into a series! You gotta speak it into existence!
What is your favorite healthy food?
Salmon, rice and veggies. I love a bowl of this so I can mix it all together and make it more fun.
And your favorite cheat food?
Pizza!!! And if I’m really going for it, with a side of ranch.
How would you explain your fashion style?
Effortless. I love a crop top and jeans and Nike Low Dunks. I live in white crop tops. I specifically love this brand Éterne. The best basics!!
What is your own definition of happiness?
I feel like I’ve really found myself in the last few years. I’ve found my voice and I feel comfortable in my own skin. That to me is the true definition of happiness.
On a completely different note, I have the best friend group you could ever ask for. We go to music festivals together and there is absolutely nothing like all of us being in the middle of a field and having the time of our lives, acting like kids! Those moments are my favorite memories and always bring a big smile to my face.
If you could meet someone living or dead, who would it be and why?
Jennifer Coolidge. I am such a fan of hers. I think she is beyond brilliant and I admire that she says whatever is on her mind!
Best advice ever given?
Keep going. Even when it feels impossible, you have to put one foot in front of the other. There have been so many times in my life that I’ve just wanted to give up, but I found the strength to stay the course. If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be that even though everything feels impossible, you’re going to get through this…and it’s because you kept going.
Do you support any charity?
I am an ongoing supporter of EveryTown for Gun Safety. Our country has to have a better plan around gun safety. I hope our lawmakers take action and pass common-sense laws and implement policies so we can turn this crisis around. everytown.org
Where do you see yourself and your career in 5 years from now?
When I think about where I am now, versus where I was 5 years ago, I feel so proud of how far I’ve come. I’ve not really stopped to think about that! I never imagined that I would be doing a one woman show to a sold out crowd at The Groundlings! So when I think about what the next 5 years will bring, I feel like the sky is truly the limit. I absolutely love what I’m doing now. More comedy. More live shows. I’m repeating myself, but “Doing Alright” inside of a TV screen. I feel happier than I’ve ever been in my life, and with every year that passes I become even more fearless. So most importantly, I see the next 5 years bringing me more happiness and more strength.
Favorite song? Why?
I am a big electronic music fan. And I love Zedd. I used to blast his song “Clarity” whenever I felt sad during my divorce. I think I probably listened to it 1000 times.
What do you think of Social Media?
I love it because it’s given so many artists a place to showcase their work. I also love the ability to connect with people you’ve never met before! I do think it can be a bit much on the brain at times since people have no filter, and you are in a constant fight with the algorithm, but I ultimately try to focus on the positive of it since it’s allowed me to be creatively free.
Where we can follow you?
You can follow me on Instagram: @nicoletravolta and on TikTok @nicoletravolta
Book: The Untethered Soul by Michael Alan Singer. Also a huge fan of the Hunger Games books!
Quote: Two that I love right now:
“Sometimes the only way to truly be happy is to just let go of whatever is holding you back and see what comes next. Be brave and have a little faith in yourself. You’ve got this”
“The old me is not my enemy, they’re an important friend who helped me develop the person I am today”
Movie: Father of the Bride
Tv Series: Favorite series ever is Sex and the City, but currently The White Lotus
Favorite Food: Pizza!
Travel Destination: There are so many that I love, but if I had to choose I would say Hawaii. I love it there so much! I love a beach vacation.
Sports Team: Cincinnati Bengals (my dad’s favorite)
Photo Credit: Dana Patrick @danapatrickphoto