CM: You play a character named Holly Herkimer in “Shameless”. Can you tell us a little more about your role?
DY: Holly is kind of this confident, independent, brazen teenager. She’s living and growing up in the south edge of Chicago so it’s a bit of a struggle. She has an interesting relationship with Debbie. In Season 4 she acts as a mentor and she guides Debbie and help her grow up in the, you know, grown-up world of girls and boys. But in Season 5, they have a different dynamic. They go down different paths – kind of butt heads a little bit.
CM: Was Holly trying to be a positive influence?
DY: Oh no! She’s definitely not a great influence. She’s a little too mature for her age and she’s a bit of a troublemaker, you know. She’s guiding Debbie in the wrong direction in every aspect (laughs).
CM: Do you like to play characters who are troubled and who brings different elements to your acting?
DY: Oh yeah absolutely. I always like playing characters with depth. I mean, ya it’s a bit more of a challenge, but that’s one reason why I like doing it. I love going through the process of getting to know that person and their life and how things work in their world, so I do like playing the complex characters. People who are more troubled than others.
CM: When you prepare for a character like that, what are certain things that you do for your preparation?
DY: Yeah, when I get into character, I like observing other people. I take little aspects of things that they do, like the way they stride, talk, or just little gestures that they do. I’ll go walk around and look at people, watch films, or things like that. I also like getting playlists of music and that helps me to be in the mental state of my character.
CM: How do you balance your school and acting?
DY: Time management, mostly. Stress-baking of cookies, haha! But no…I try to get my school work done as quick as I can so that way I don’t have to worry about it later on if something comes up in the schedule.
CM: So looks like you have a few nicknames floating around, do you have one in particular that you really identify with?
DY: My family calls me Neaks. I love that, it’s probably going to be my name forever. Neaks or Deaks, but Deaks comes from Neaks which is the last part of my name. And Nika, you know, things like that
CM: What are some of your hobbies, things that you like to do outside of acting?
DY: I love hiking, I love boxing. I’m really big into sports like lacrosse and field hockey. I really want to play ice hockey but my parents won’t let me do that. They’re too worried I’m going to get into a fight and break my face. I also do archery. I’m really big into that right now. It’s a lot of fun. I’m also big into dancing as well.
CM: When you were doing competitive dancing, was there a particular style you loved?
DY: Tap. I love tap! Because I love the rhythm and I loved how it sounded you know? I’m also a drummer and so I loved how it went hand in hand…the beats and the dancing.
CM: What is the most interesting thing that you’ve ever Googled?
DY: Dogs with belly buttons. So me and my friend Emma were talking about how weird it would be if dogs had belly buttons, like we have belly buttons. So then we were thinking, oh, someone has probably photoshopped that because there are photoshops of everything! So we’re just Googling that and (shakes her head)… no, no, no, but it was very interesting what we did find!
PHOTOGRAPHY BY JOHN HONG
STYLING BY FRANZY STAEDTER
MAKE UP BY CHELSEA YUSUF USING ILLAMASQUA
HAIR STYLING BY CARLOS ZELAYA
INTERVIEW BY JANE HONG