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Nicole Marie Unger

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I want to get to know the person behind the glitz and glamor of being an actress. What do not many people know about you that you think has contributed to your art?


I'm an open book, so I'm always like happy to talk about my story, but growing up, I definitely felt a lot of pressure as a young kid to always do well and sometimes that got the best of me. What ended up saving me from going down a darker, sadder path was music. Music's what started a lot of things. 


I always did little things where I would put on shows for my parents. Me and my younger brother, we'd re-enact scenes, but what really started to shift and change my life for the better was when I started playing the violin. I started playing in 4th grade and that made a positive impact on me throughout my life, until I switched and started singing my sophomore year of high school. We started doing theater and singing and then that added more wonderful things to my life. [Now I’m] still doing music and adding on this thing that I loved my whole life – putting on shows and being funny professionally.

That's awesome. So when you got into the professional world as an actress and singer, what did you find the most challenging?


Definitely being okay with ‘no’ and also being able to say ‘no’ myself. That was kind of a big thing for me because you'd put out all this work, you'd do all these auditions, you do all these things, and you get ‘no’ a lot, and you start to realize it's not because of me as a person. It's because of the vision they're trying to achieve. So once you kind of accept that it's not about me [and] I'm doing the best that I can do. I'm putting forth good work, but they might have a different look in mind or a different sound in mind, you know, and it has nothing to do with me, so kind of letting go of it personally being about me really was a big change and kind of was cool. All right, they're looking for something else, moving on and going on to the next thing and not letting that make me sad because it used to make me really sad, you know.

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When you first start out, you get all these no's and you're, like, what's wrong with me? Something's wrong and it really is not about you. It's about what they're looking for and sometimes you're just not what that is and it's nothing to do with you at all. It's just they want a different vibe or a different look and it's not something you have and that's cool. Move on. Find the thing that is looking for your vibe – they want to cast you. They want to put you in projects. You just might not be the vision and there's nothing wrong with that. So that was a big change for me. 


Also me saying ‘no’ to work and not feeling like I had to say ‘yes’ to everything was another huge moment of my life and not feeling so stuck anymore or I had more of the ability to choose what I wanted to do and not feeling like I had to do stuff. So those 2 things really helped me feel less stuck and helped me feel like I had more control over my career. 

So you felt like you had more control in choosing stuff. What Artcee wants to do is encourage people to make their own projects, collaborate on their own projects, by using Artcee as a networking platform. 


What vision do you have for yourself and what you want to do for your own projects?


I'm definitely trying to tune in more, but also be more open to how I feel as a creative person. I’m very open to collaborating with people and that's why I like the idea of Artcee so much. [I like] the ability to reach out to people that are outside of your normal circles, but still have the same ideas as the people you normally work with – finding more people to work with and expanding that little community that you have. 


I find that I'm opening my mind more to new ideas and new types of stories that we're not telling all the time. I feel like we tell a lot of the same stories. There's nothing wrong with that, but I'm trying to find ways to tell newer stories or ways to tell personal stories, in a different way. That's where my creative process is starting to go.

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Cool! So, is there a dream project or a story that you want to tell in a different way? Is anything percolating right now? Can you share anything or is it still in the works? 


A lot of it is still in the works. I think one of my dreams is finishing things. As a writer, that's one of my newer things. 


I've been writing for a long time, but I get distracted and I start doing other projects and then my personal project sort of falls off the side, so my dream is to finish my scripts because I have 4 that I've started. I'm really trying to set aside time to work on my own stuff and get some of them off the ground. 


There's one that I have finished that I want to do a couple more edits to. I think that it's starting to get to the point where I can start bringing more of a team and I've already talked to a friend of mine [to take over the role of] being a director on it. 

So, that's a dream of mine is to push these things forward and keep that momentum going and stay focused.

Wow, so what are some of your goals that you're studying for yourself for this new year? I mean the new year is coming up. 


I found that there are projects that I've been working on for a long time and I love them and dedicate all my time to them, but I don't have to. I can dedicate enough time, but then separate and try to dedicate stuff to my own projects. 


A goal, moving forward next year, is to create the script that I [already] have done. I want to get it off its feet. That's a goal for next year. It's kind of a spooky script too, so getting it done by Halloween would be cool, to have it launched.


Then I've got these three other scripts that I've started writing and I want to make sure that I set time at least once a week to dedicate to writing that. It's hard when you're a creative person. You're starting to work, you're doing all these things, it's hard to make those schedules, but you can dedicate time to your own projects. You get so excited about all these other projects and you want to do all these things, so trying to balance it is a big challenge, but totally achievable. 


You just have to sit yourself down and [commit to]: Here's what I want to do on Sundays, from this time to this time. I'm going to work on the podcast and, from this time this time, I'll work on my script. Time management is a huge undertaking for anybody on their own, especially if you're doing your own business, like you're your own business when it comes to acting, right? 

Do you have any words for emerging artists that are starting out? 


What's so great about Artcee is that it's a way to find your community. I think that that is a huge thing. I wouldn't be where I am now, if it wasn't for my friends and the people that I work with. The people that I create with, we all, when one of us is down, we pick each other up. 


Finding that community, even though sometimes you separate and do your own things for a long time, you still [will] always have that community to come back to and I think that is the biggest thing as an artist – finding your community. We all need help sometimes and having those people that are always there for you, that's a beautiful thing. 


I think it's important as an artist because if you're all by yourself, it's a lot harder. It's nice to have that family and that community. Artcee is a great way to find that. I think that's so valuable and important. 

That's beautiful. Thoughts on your experience when you saw Artcee for the first time and at the launch?  


It brought so much joy to me, seeing the launch. First of all, it was an amazing thing because Rachel's wonderful and the whole family is wonderful, so seeing it all come to life was the coolest thing. 


The way the platform is outlined is so easy to look at. It's easy to organize and get your stuff on there. It's a relief [that] it's very well-organized [because] it makes it easy to connect to people and find what you're actually looking for. It's a really, really exciting thing and I'm hopeful for the future of different artists coming together, making beautiful things, and Artcee is going to be behind that.

In addition to the arts, what moves you in the community or inspires you to give back that you may want to share on this platform?


Different charities. One of the ones that I admire and love is called the Innocence Project and a lot of those people inspire me. It's an organization that's dedicated to helping people that are incarcerated and wrongfully convicted or possibly on death row and shouldn't be. They work so hard to get these people out and in a better position. 


Their stories – the people that they save, essentially – are very inspiring. That one person that went on to be a big singer and was on – I think it was America's Got Talent? He's on one of them and he sang. Seeing him go through such horrible things [and then] finally be in a place where he can rep who he wants to be and sing is inspiring. I find a lot of their stories incredibly inspiring. The people that they help, it changes their lives and it's beautiful and important work. I admire that. 

Was there ever a turning point for you, where it was a dark moment, and then you decided, ‘I'm gonna turn this into light for myself’? 


Oh, yeah, for sure. I feel like that happens a lot, especially as artists, because we constantly get to these points where things feel like it's gonna go anywhere. Nothing's happening and COVID especially did that for a lot of us because we were stuck and not able to do anything. There was a time during COVID, when I was all by myself, and I was in the house with my animals, and I hit a dark point where I was like, nothing's gonna change. My show's on hiatus. We're not able to do anything and it's really hard to talk to people. 


That's when I started writing again. I hadn't written in a long time and I said, you know what? I'm just gonna start writing. I don't know what's gonna come out of me, but I'm gonna write. So I sat at my computer and that's what I started to do with these hours where I had nothing. [It became] the same routine over and over again. I've been writing this feature and that's one of the projects that I want to finish – this one that started when I was doing nothing and I was sad and said ‘I'm gonna write’. 


So writing helped me there, when I didn't know what else to do because I couldn't do anything. I would write at my computer and then I would put on random musicals and I would sing in my house as loudly as I could and make up dance routines. My animals would be like, what are you doing? And I'd be like, you guys like this? 

I love it. Art just comes out of you.


It's hard. I mean, it's definitely not easy and there are definitely moments where you have to push yourself more and you have to have that talk with yourself. You have to be, like – all right, we're here. It's okay that we're here. Your feelings are totally valid. It's okay to be in these places, but you can't be here forever, so we're gonna have to start pulling yourself up because it's okay to feel defeated, it's okay to feel sad if you need to feel all those things – that's where a lot of great work can come from is getting to those places, right? 


I feel like a lot of people try to push it aside – no, everything's fine. I got it (and yes there is value in that), but it's okay to sit in those sad moments sometimes, allow yourself to be there and then go: ‘Okay, why am I here? What can I do to help myself? What can I do to help pull myself up? Is there a song? Is there some silly little mantra that I can keep saying? Is there a book I want to read?’ 


‘How can I pull myself up from this?’


And then, when you can pull yourself out, you can re-evaluate: ‘Okay, how did I get there? Why did I get there? What can I do to help myself to not get there again or when I get there again, how can I pull myself out better, you know?’ 


And maybe it's a silly dance move that you start doing to help yourself feel better, but it's all valid and I think that's a big, important thing to realize – especially as artists – that every feeling you go through is valid and has a purpose and it is okay to sit there and be there and thank that feeling for being there and then move on. 


I love that: That mentality of moving on. 


You know – am I right for this? Great. Move on. I'm not part of that Vision, but at least they've seen me and we're going to continue. We're gonna build that relationship.

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