Our awareness defines our perception of being connected or not connected to that broader, wider part of us, which we may call God, Source, the Universe, or the Divine. We only can perceive from the place of self, and as we observe and experience our physical realm, it is always our choice of how and what we let influence us. The connection to the oneness of Everything That Exists is always available for us whenever we decide to sense it.
The artist, Nadine Nicole, who is also the Founder of True Connection, a nonprofit that is part of the SEL (social-emotional learning) movement, forwarding EQ, mindfulness meditation, and leadership skills for youth and adults, says, “I find my purpose in giving back creatively, it’s a whole adventure of its own that I feel deeply connected to. I think everyone is an artist in some way and has many gifts to share with the world when they tap into a higher source of creativity with intuition, trust, and grit. Being an actor is very much like this, deepening your self-awareness and social awareness so that you can reflect humanity back on itself, as a channel of pure creation, an exercise in mind-body connection and empathy.”
Nadine’s mom is a first-generation Filipina, and her father is a fourth or so generation German. She is a lover of visual arts, books, philosophy, nature, travel, and her family. “I guess I’m a student of life,” says Nadine, “I’m the eldest of three with a brother and sister whom I love more than anything. And my new fur baby Bella, a lab mix rescue I adopted during the lockdown; I love her like crazy.”
It wasn’t until her thirties that Nadine Nicole began to fully fall in love with acting, “in large,” she says, “it is due to landing more substantial roles that involved building more interesting and 3-dimensional characters. What I love most about storytelling, though, is the collaborative effort amongst fellow artists and creators.”
It’s fascinating how actors can immerse themselves in someone else’s story and experience a deliberate becoming within an imaginary context. Not only can that bring a sense of fuller understanding and compassion for others, but also the recognition of a greater sensibility within yourself.
“Living in the moment, aware of your senses under the perspective of another person can feel very hard to do, but when you are in the zone, it is extremely rewarding, enlightening, and cathartic. I love that it opens you to new parts of yourself that you never knew existed, that it challenges you to fully utilize your imagination and become more aware of your own habits and blockages. Learning to empathize with and understand another person’s psychology and life experiences is essential,” says Nadine.
The entertainment industry is rapidly changing by bringing a more inclusive, diverse narrative, breaking some of the stereotypes. “The narrative is absolutely shifting,” remarks Nadine. “Diverse representation is being demanded, not only because of the uproar in the racial justice movement around the world, but also because incredibly talented artists, writers, directors, and producers of all colors and backgrounds have more opportunities to flourish in ways that weren’t possible before. Representation is everything, and I am thrilled to see so many African American and minority artists being showcased, honored, and celebrated. During this year’s racial justice movement, I’ve intentionally followed a copious number of minority influencers and learned so much from their stories. It’s so beautiful to see people worldwide seek and bring about more justice and connection. See, acknowledge, and validate one another.”
Nadine portrays Clarissa Mao on the futuristic TV show The Expanse, available on Amazon Prime. In the storyline of the series, where diversity and inclusivity of racial and gender identities issues are long in the past, humanity in a technologically advanced world still faces challenges of acceptance, but in a new interplanetary and galactical context.
“I think the industry will continue to walk down the path of open-mindedness as humans evolve, create, and story-tell. The Expanse is the perfect example of this. Not only did they include manifold heroic female characters, but these women’s stories focus on their individuality, work-passions, values, power, and depth. There are privileged Earthers, impoverished belters, and militant Martians – all multicultural with accents from all over the world. The Belters accent is a modge podge of various worldly dialects and seems really hard to do,” recognizes Nadine.
Throughout the process of becoming and evolving as Clarissa Mao, Nadine sees that, “We can have very different subconscious needs that drive our behavior, but what we all have in common is the desire to feel safe, to belong, and to be loved.” About her character, Nadine continues, “Clarissa has wholeheartedly reminded me of the beauty of second chances and self-compassion. Everyone is capable of evolving and awakening under the right circumstances, no matter how dark your past has been. You don’t have to be perfect to be loved and accepted. We just need those people who chose to see us, guide us, and hold us upright when we can’t do it ourselves.”
Besides The Expanse, Nadine is also having fun doing voiceover for a Netflix anime series called Exception, a sci-fi thriller for adults where she plays a botanist named Patty. And she is also working on a custom fine jewelry line with her mother, who has been in the jewelry business for forty years. “Our new company ‘Ce Soeur’ will benefit women’s microfinance organizations and focus on empowering women in business. We’re launching the first designs this fall,” Nadine shares excitedly.
Nadine is, of course, most passionate about True Connection. Concerning the inspiration behind the project and how it has evolved, Nadine says, “It all started when I moved from New York to LA and met a director who told me that to become a good actor, I should volunteer with persons with disabilities and study their behaviors, movements, tone of voice, personalities, and do good for the community while I was at it. I mean, what a great idea. So I volunteered, teaching theater to developmentally disabled adults in West LA for over two years. They became dear friends, my absolute favorite part of the week, and brought so much joy to my life.”
Then the artist continues, “I rallied a best friend from Michigan, who has been a social worker her entire life. We made a healing arts program for youth and took it to an orphanage in Sierra Leone, Africa, in 2009 and 2011. That was one of the most profound experiences of my life: so much deep healing, love, creativity, and empowerment. So, we took that mindfulness, creativity, and trauma awareness curricula, moved it stateside, and added character development, leadership, and then SEL. SEL embodies all these topics and aspects combined. Plus, it’s applicable to education standards and can be integrated into many professional development settings. We can educate, heal and empower more lives with the SEL movement and especially now -going online.”
Seeing students, parents and teachers make an effort to talk, heal, bond, set goals, and dream big; hearing a mother talk about how it changed her daughter’s life; hearing a kid say they don’t talk down to themselves nearly as much anymore; having a teacher reach out because they need support in really being there for their students; watching police officers meditate for the first time and maintain the practice – is just some of the impact that True Connection brings to peoples’ lives.
“Making a small difference in each of their lives is something worthwhile to me. I wish we taught more about self-awareness and social awareness in schools, but unfortunately, we need a lot of transformation in many of our societal systems,” says Nadine – about receiving satisfaction through the organization’s contribution to herself and others.
It is not only easy to participate and become part of the changes and impact that True Connection does, but also equally beneficial to the contributor and the community and causes they support. At the end of February 2021, True Connection will launch an ‘SEL Foundations’ Online Course for professional development in partnership with Brandman University.
“You can take the course or share it, raise your EQ, and campaign with us to move this vital programming throughout the LAPD. We also have ‘HiEQ Facilitator Training’ and ‘HiEQ for Youth’ Online Courses coming out on our own educational platform this Spring. Guest speakers can join our weekly ETP (Embodying the Practice) Sessions to inform and inspire the LAPD Youth Cadets. Racial justice advocates can join us in our Building Bridges Dialogue Series coming out very soon! Learn more, reach out, and join the conversation at www-true-connection.org,” says Nadine.
Despite what happened in 2020 worldwide, it also brought a lot of expansion as it gave us the opportunity to discover more clarity about what we truly appreciate and the changes we want to experience within ourselves and our world.
“Honestly, I really appreciate the slowing down aspect,” Nadine shares, “So does our planet. There are a ton of silver linings, including being able to self-care, stay healthier, more balanced, and less stressed. Also, I don’t think the racial justice movement would have fired up so much if people were still busy at work dealing with daily life. There are all-new challenges and anxieties to deal with during a pandemic, but leaning on your loved ones, checking-in with each other more, taking care of your tribe, all of that is meaningful and important. Coming back to the core family and doing the work there, an opportunity to connect with our roots revisit our intentions and focus on what’s truly important – what makes us happy.”
Also, self-reflecting on empowerment and the topic of self-development that has expanded Nadine’s awareness, she adds, “One thing I do love about myself is my perseverance and young spirit. The name ‘Nadine’ means ‘hope,” and I think hope is a beautiful driving force to keep close to your heart. I wouldn’t say it’s my favorite aspect of myself, but I do appreciate my tendency to enjoy being alone. This past year has taught me that I am more comfortable with myself and can thrive even in isolation. Keeping the core group filled solely with friends and family who support each other without judgment and trust each other fully feels beautiful and healthy. That feeling is liberating and keeps me balanced in a way that creates more time, energy, and space to tune into a higher creativity mode that fuels my personal confidence of being on the right path.”
Like Nadine, we hope that you, a beautiful being reading this, will experience a fuller true connection by following the path you consider is right for you.