Nikki SooHoo began her acting career at the age of 15. She created an amazing team who have provided her the opportunity to work on projects such as:
– “The Lovely Bones,” directed by Peter Jackson, where she played the role of “Holly.”
– “Stick It,” directed by Jessica Bendinger, where she became known for her balance beam hip hop routine with her role as “Wei Wei.”
– “Bring It On: Fight to the Finish,” directed by Billy Woodruff, where she played the role of “Christina”.
Nikki has also appeared on shows such as: No Ordinary Family, Private Practice, Suite Life of Zack and Cody, Phil of the Future, Drake and Josh, and The War at Home.
I am back in school. I decided to get my MBA at Chapman University. I figured that getting my business degree would help me be a better businesswoman and that in turn would help me understand the other side of the entertainment business.
Asiance: Nikki, I understand dancing is, and continues to be, something you love. How did you get started?
Nikki: I started dancing at the age of 2, in Mommy-and-Me ballet classes. Since then, I went to OCHSA, a performing arts school, and majored in Commercial dance. Then in college, I attended UCLA in the World Arts and Cultures department with an emphasis in dance. Dance is like the engine that keeps me running. It allows me to express my thoughts, feelings, and emotions through my body.
Asiance: One of the roles you are best known for is Wei Wei in “Stick It” where you do a balance beam routine. Was that something you trained for or already had experience doing?
Nikki: We trained for 3 months prior to shooting “Stick It” in order to train our bodies to look and walk like real gymnasts. When I first auditioned for the movie, I could barely walk across the 4-inch wide beam without falling off. It took a lot of hard work and great trainers!
Watch the balance beam routine
Asiance: Now many of your roles involve both dancing and acting. How did you get first get involved in acting?
Nikki: I was very lucky to be in the right place at the right time. I took an acting class and met the man who became my manager for the first 7-yrs of my career. He helped train me for the business, got me an agent, and we went from there! I continue to constantly train and get better at my craft to assure a long lived career.
Asiance: I have read that very frequently you are asked by a producer to help them define the roles you play. This is not common. For example, you were asked to make Christina in “Bring It On” more like yourself, and you helped Holly in Peter Jackson’s “The Lovely Bones.” I think it is because people love your personality. Why do you think that is?
Nikki: Growing up with parents who always told me that I was perfect the way I was and instilled a great sense of self-confidence in me, allowed me to really be myself and not try to be something I wasn’t. I tried to bring a part of me to each of my characters because I believe that it is each individual actor’s own personality that distinguishes and differentiates one character from another.
Nikki as Holly in “The Lovely Bones”
Asiance: On the set of “The Lovely Bones” Peter Jackson said about you, “She was fantastic. … She was full of fun.” “Having those sorts of people around (made) the film set really great because they’re always making jokes. … She’s a great spirit to have around.” That is a great compliment. How did hearing that make you feel?
Nikki: Relieved! That means I didn’t blow it! haha. I feel honored to have gotten the opportunity to work with such an amazing director like Peter. We did have a great time on set. Everyone was a pleasure to be around.
Asiance: We hear frequently that Asian actors are pigeonholed in the types of roles they are offered. Do you find this to be true and have you experienced it yourself?
Nikki: I think the industry is changing and writers are starting to write different kinds of roles for Asian actors. I think there are still quite a few stereotypical roles, but I see a lot of changes happening. Changes for the better.
Asiance: You studied world arts and cultures at UCLA and wanted to continue your schooling studying nutrition. Are you back in school now?
Nikki: I am back in school. I decided to get my MBA at Chapman University. I figured that getting my business degree would help me be a better businesswoman and that in turn would help me understand the other side of the entertainment business. As I grow my career in a direction of producing my own shows and films, I feel it’d be helpful to understand how business works. I have my whole life to learn about nutrition! I promise I will, someday!
Asiance: While you were in school and after you were well known for your role, you continued to work despite your fame in places like Yogurtland, American Apparel, Apple, and Chin Chin restaurant. How did fans react seeing you there?
Nikki: Sometimes they’d say, “Don’t you make lots of money, why do you need to work here?” My usual response is that I don’t work to earn money, I work because I enjoy learning about different industries of work and I love the place I am working. I think that the more experiences you have experienced, the better actress you will be. My goal is to try and learn about everything I possibly can, because that will only make me a better actress.
Asiance: Can you tell us a little about one of your newest projects, Music High?
Nikki: Music High is a fun teenage movie that focuses around a new music teacher and his students learning to work together and learning new things makes you better at what you do. I’m playing a character much different than my past characters. I play the outcast, rebellious, goth-like student who doesn’t care to participate or listen to the teacher and spends most of my time just doing exactly what everyone doesn’t want me to do.
Asiance: Do you have any advice for someone who may want to follow in your footsteps?
Nikki: Listen to your heart, and do what you want to do. Don’t settle for what you think you are “supposed” to be doing. Do what you would love to do, and don’t limit yourself to thinking you can only do one thing. Growing up, I always figured I had to go to college, get my Masters, and then get a “grown up” job that provided stable income, worked 9-5, blah blah blah. You are only on this earth for so many years and you never know when you’ll be gone, so don’t plan on happiness in the future. Make yourself happy now and do what you want to do. You can do it.
Asiance: Who are your inspirations and what drives you?
Nikki: I love Will Smith’s video “Will’s Wisdom” it is so inspiring and reminds me that I’m the only one who can determine my success. If I work hard, I will succeed. I am driven by my own expectations of myself. I expect myself to be good at everything I want to do, and if I am not good, I will make myself good at it.
Asiance: Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
Nikki: In five years I see myself married, a series regular on a prime time tv show, and the producer on multiple artistic ventures. I am really interested in creating a project that focuses on out-reach to kids in need of nutritional guidance. Volunteer work has always been really important to me, so until I am able to get my own projects together, I will continue working with the various out-reach groups such as: Showbiz Kidz Foundation, 24 Foundation, Awakening Young Minds (AYM), Center for the Pacific Asian Family, Asian Pacific Family Center Prevention Program, and MAPS 4 College.