Actress Spotlight — Jasika Nicole
Story by Ashley Dawson
Photography by Claire Savage
Jasika Nicole is not only an outstanding actress and performer, but a multi-talented artist, designer, sculptor, writer, and content creator as well. Her role on ABC’s The Good Doctor has brought her critical acclaim in the world of entertainment, and her online fashion and creative blogging attract thousands of artistic fans eager to try their own at-home DIY projects. Composure took a few minutes to sit down with Jasika and ask her all about her well-rounded artistic lifestyle.
When did you first start acting, and when did you know you wanted to make a career out of it?
I first started performing in community theatre, and school plays when I was in elementary school, but I didn’t think of making a career of it at all. I just loved having the opportunity to outshine my white peers, many of whom grew up pitying me because I was the child of an interracial relationship. I fought against having a career in the arts for a long time because I resented the fact that entertainment and sports seemed like the easiest ways for black people to be successful, but eventually, I got over it. Being on stage was a bright light in my life when I was growing up, and it still is, and I didn’t want to deny myself the happiness it brought me.
Can you tell us more about what it’s like to star on ABC’s The Good Doctor as Dr. Carly Lever? How would you describe your character?
Carly is a pathologist who works at the St. Bonaventure hospital. She’s bright, opinionated, and compassionate.
What is it like working with Freddie Highmore, and how do your characters play off of one another in the show?
Freddie is an amazing scene partner and one of my favorite people I have worked with in television and film. He is professional and respectful and pretty quiet on set, but we always manage to have fun together, even when we film particularly emotional or difficult scenes.
You talk about your adventures in fashion and making clothing on your blog, “Try-Curious.” Can you tell us more about the blog and what you write about?
I have exclusively been making my own clothes for about five years now and have a blog on my website, jasikanicole.com, where I write reviews of sewing patterns I’ve tried, in addition to talking about other projects I have worked on like making quilts, knitting sweaters, woodworking, reupholstering furniture, throwing and hand-building pottery, designing and making shoes, and much more. My website originally began as a place to house all my illustration work, comics, and writing, but now it’s become an extension of my Instagram account, @JasikaIsTryCurious, where I share a lot of the projects I am working on or am trying out for the first time. I hope to inspire people to learn new things, to push themselves out of their comfort zone and challenge themselves and their creativity. I know it’s cliché and it’s an easy thing for me to say as someone who has been confidently making things for a long time, but I really do think there is so much more joy in the process of making than with the finished product; the product isn’t always a marker of one’s skill or talent, it’s an indicator of how much you value the experience of achieving that product. In today’s tech-savvy/instant-gratification culture, we don’t have many opportunities to simply make things for fun, to flex those creative muscles we were always taught to use as kids. I am a big proponent of adults making room in their lives for hobbies, no matter how small, and thankfully, I think a lot more people these days are feeling motivated to do just that.
You’re an outspoken activist online for the Black Lives Matter movement and for all people of color. Can you tell us more about what this movement means to you and how people can get involved?
The movement means equality, compassion, care, and safety for a community of people disproportionately affected by a brutal and murderous justice system. On the whole, Black Lives Matter is about valuing the lives of black people, but on a micro-level, it’s also about supporting black culture, black thought, black artists, black business owners, black history, and working to dismantle the systems of oppression and unconscious racist behaviors that have kept black people the world over from being able to flourish to our maximum potential. The best way to get involved is to start unpacking one’s own internal prejudices and understanding one’s complicity in anti-blackness. This is the hardest part for people who have never stopped to do the work on themselves. The information is literally at our fingertips, everywhere online, all over libraries, pouring through social media. Start following black leaders on social media like Janaya the Future, read the works of prolific educators like Angela Davis and Ijeoma Oluo, get educated on why the community is demanding a dismantling of our current law enforcement system, understand where the concept of “policing” comes from and reckon with the ways that abuse of power has been used to oppress black Americans for centuries. Then commit to being an anti-racist.
You’re also a strong supporter of the LGBTQ+ community—what does the community mean to you?
I am proudly queer, and I cherish being part of a vast, varied, and resilient community.