#BeYourOwnIcon: Nicole Marie Johnson
Nicole Marie Johnson is having her moment in Hollywood.
So who would guess she would have had to overcome many obstacles as a child?
As a young girl, Nicole’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer and coming from a single family household, Nicole was expected to step up and take care of the family.
Not the typical upbringing of a Hollywood actress, right??
NICOLE’S CHILDHOOD CHALLENGES
American Sunglass asked Nicole about her upbringing. “ My parents separated when I was 7-years old and a few years later my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. At a very young age I was expected to step up and help take care of the household, my mother and my sister.”
“I had a lot of pride growing up and hid everything really well. Luckily it was the 90’s so no one noticed that I was running around in my mother’s hand-me-down flannel shirts and baggy jeans.”
She dealt with her struggles in different ways - by hiding her emotions, and by being a mischievous teenager.
“As an adolescent I was ambitious as much as mischievous. I played softball, worked at the local diner on the weekends, and snuck out of my house every chance I had.”
“My mother wasn’t able to work due to the long-term effects of the cancer treatments. Needless to say, it was a struggle. At one point we received food stamps from the State; I’ll never forget those little pink lunch tickets, they haunted me.”
HER CHALLENGES FUELED HER AMBITION
Nicole explains how she began acting in her personal life, as a way of coping.
“Most of my childhood, though not in the traditional sense, was spent acting; both for myself and other people. I would constantly downplay life at home and act as if we were a ‘normal’ family.“
She also learned how to be independent and self sufficient at a young age. This led to her strength and perseverance later on. “At the beginning of my Senior year, my mother decided to move us to Florida so that my sister and I could be closer to our father.”
“The week I turned 18 flew myself back to Northfield so that I could play softball with my team and finish out my high school experience with my friends. I spent the year staying with various friends’ families. This period of my life was crucial in shaping the person I am today. With no one to look after me and guide me into adulthood, I had only myself to rely on.“
This independence was scary and motivating for her. “At that point, the only way for me to move forward was to put my head down and just work; without ever allowing myself to look back or dwell on the fact that I had no safety net, no back-up plan and no one to rely on except myself.”
ACTING CAREER BEGINNINGS
Nicole got started with modeling and acting close to home on the east coast. “While living in Boston, I did some commercial modeling locally and in New York. Filming in Massachusetts started to pick up due to new tax incentives so my agency started to send me out on small film auditions.”
“I got very close to booking a movie, starring Matthew McConaughey in Ghosts of Girlfriends Past and absolutely fell in love with the process, the people, and my passion. That’s when I decided to make the move to Los Angeles and pursue something that was important to me, and only for me. For the first time in my life, not having a back-up plan or a safety net pushed me to make the best decision of my life.“
Nicole is more recently known for her work as an actress in the film, “Lights”, and the TV series, “Suits.”
HER OWN FEATURE FILM PROJECT, QUARRIES
Her biggest accomplishment to date, is a film she created from scratch with some colleagues, called Quarries. She both starred in and produced this movie about women finding strength and stamina within themselves while fighting for their lives.
“Quarries began as a vehicle for me and my close industry-friends to further establish our careers in the entertainment and film industry. Instead of waiting around for the phone to ring, we decided to create our own work and tell our own story.”
“This film gave us the opportunity to work with people who are passionate about film and about the story, and truly motivated to create an outstanding picture, which could ultimately further their careers.”
“The message behind Quarries is that of female strength and empowerment, and being able to prevail in the face of adversity. It wasn’t until after we finished filming that I was able to fully recognize the parallels of Quarries in my own life.“
Nicole took control of her career, by creating this project and being involved in all aspects until the end. “I spearheaded the making of this film and saw it all the way through. I am excited to announce that it is now available on iTunes, which is an amazing personal accomplishment and certainly not something the 15-year old me ever saw for herself when she was taking care of her family back in Northfield. “
Both Nicole’s background and her impressive work ethic are an inspiration. She shows us that no matter who you are and where you’ve come from, you can work hard and attain your dreams.
“Life has handed me a lot of lemons but instead of getting sour I used them in my work. It’s important to always keep an open mind in any situation, somehow there is always something to be learned that will benefit one’s direction.”
Check out Nicole’s feature film, Quarries, on iTunes!
Nicole is looking gorgeous in our Toms Yvette Victorian Black Floral Sunglasses from American Sunglass.