Nikki Renée Daniels is no stranger to the Broadway stage, first starring in Aida, Nine, and The Look of Love in the early 2000s to later stints as Fantine in Les Misérables, Clara in The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess, and Nabulungi in The Book of Mormon.
Now in her 10th Broadway show, Daniels stars in the Tony Award-winning revival of Company. Not only does she play the role of Jenny in the show every night, Daniels also understudies the lead role and made history this past spring as the first Black performer to take on the role of Bobby/Bobbie in any Broadway production of Company.
Ahead of Company‘s final Broadway performance at the Bernard B. Jacobs Theatre on Sunday, July 31, Daniels answered 5 questions with Broadway Direct, telling us how seeing The Wizard of Oz made her want to become an actor, why Audra McDonald is her biggest inspiration, and what her “calming oasis” in the Big Apple is.
1. What inspired you to become an actor?
I started playing piano at a young age, so I always loved music, but it was seeing the school musical, The Wizard of Oz, that truly inspired me to become an actor. It looked like so much fun, getting up on stage and telling a story, and taking the audience on that ride, in real-time. I knew then that I wanted to be a part of something like that. I auditioned for the school musical the next year, and I haven’t stopped performing since!
2. Who in your field inspires you?
I am most inspired by Audra McDonald. I looked up to her so much when I was in high school and college. You have to see it to be it, and she was one of the few Black actresses that I saw performing at that time, being given the opportunity to play legit soprano roles. When I got to work with her in The Gershwin’s Porgy and Bess I was blown away by her work ethic, and also her dedication to her family. She showed me that you can follow your dream, while also maintaining a healthy work/family life balance.
3. What will audiences be most excited about seeing in Company?
We’ve got a little bit of everything in Company! It is so funny, the cast is just amazing – who would pass up an opportunity to see Patti LuPone?! Knowing that it was the last show that Mr. Sondheim got to see, of his, on Broadway, and how much he loved it, is also really special.
4. If you didn’t need to sleep at night, what would you spend your time doing?
If I didn’t need sleep, I would probably spend my time on Youtube watching classic Broadway performances.
5. What is your favorite NYC spot?
My favorite NYC spot is Central Park. I like spending time there with my family and friends. It’s a calming oasis in the middle of the hustle and bustle of the city.
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