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  Niki Nielsen, 30, Salt Lake City UT
Biography: IN HER OWN WORDS . . .

The Blessing and the Curse of Acting from Niki Nielsen's Perspective

I was born in Salt Lake City, Utah and have lived in the general area my entire life. I am a fanatic of the outdoors and while in college worked as a ski instructor, snowboard instructor, and river guide. I love camping, hiking, rock climbing, rollerblading, wake boarding, snow skiing, snowboarding, river rafting, kayaking, dancing, traveling, watercolor painting, unicycling, and of course acting!

As a child, I had many ambitions. I wanted to be an artist like my Dad, a lawyer, a doctor, an inventor, a writer, and even an actress. My first try as an actress was in an elementary school play where I played the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland. I forgot my lines and was teased by many of the kids in my class. I didn't have the guts to try it again until I was in junior high school and auditioned for Tom Sawyer. I had to sing for the audition. I do not sing. I didn't get into the musical. After that, I guess I figured that if I couldn't sing, I couldn't be an actress.

When I decided to go to the University of Utah for college, I thought that engineering might be something I was good at. I have always done well in math and science so it made sense to pursue something that would require and utilize those abilities. I never really looked back until my fourth year of college when I needed to fulfill an art requirement before graduating. "Intro to Acting 1" was on the list of classes I could take and I thought, "Why not?” I took the class and loved it. I couldn't help but think "Why didn't I take this class earlier?” I don't regret having gotten my degree in engineering - I only regret that I didn't pursue acting earlier.

I finished out my last year of college and began the search to find a job as an engineer. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be and the best offer I received was to go back to school to pursue a Master's degree in Mechanical Engineering with a fellowship from the National Science Foundation. Huffing it back to school to study micro-sensors, I couldn't get acting out of my head. I took a few classes here and there, got into a couple of small plays, but nothing too serious. I still felt that in order to make it as an actor, to have acting as a career, you had to be born into it or somehow magically discovered. It seemed like a foolish dream that seemed even more foolish as I began my Master's degree program. Ultimately, I finished out that degree too and actually got a job this time!

I currently work full time as a Mechanical Engineer on the NASA space shuttle program as well as other rocket motor programs. It's a great job, very interesting and the pay is great too! But I guess I could never really get over that darned acting thing. About a year into the new job I started wondering if this was really what I should be doing with my life. I was in my mid-twenties and having what some might call a "quarter-life crisis". I decided that if I was going to try acting that now was the time. It's not easy pursuing your dream and spending many nights and weekends striving to make it happen . . . especially while working full time . . . but so far my crazy busy life has been completely worth it.

I've always been a very imaginative, creative person. I've enjoyed my artistic hobbies, but never thought I could make a decent living as a painter, dancer or actor. I thought that a career as an engineer would be a well-respected job that could take me far in life. I was also breaking a stereotype which is something I always strive to do. There are far fewer women in engineering than there are men. And I believe that I have many qualities that make a great engineer and an even greater actress. I am outgoing, a risk-taker, passionate, motivated, and determined. I take nothing for granted and strive to live my life to the fullest. I feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that I was able to become a "rocket scientist". No matter how hard the road was, I persisted and succeeded in my goal. And I feel great about that. BUT, and there always has to be a "but", my true passion lies in acting.

I have worked on and am working on several independent films and am not planning to slow down anytime soon. I am constantly training and I strive to learn more about the art of acting everyday. My ultimate goal is to live and work doing what I love. You can visit my website at www.nikinielsen.com and my blog at www.nikinielsen.blogspot.com for updates and more information about me and my journey.

Age: 30
Height: 5' 7
Weight: 130
Eye Colour: Blue
Hair Colour: Blond
Web Site: www.nikinielsen.com