Please introduce yourself, what you do, why you do it, and what you want people to know about you.
My name is Nikki DeLoach. I am an actor, a writer, a producer, and an advocate. Most importantly, though, I am a mom, wife, daughter, sister, granddaughter, and friend.
In terms of my work and why I do what I do, it’s simple. When I was a young girl, storytelling and performing made me feel like I wasn’t so alone in my life. Dancing especially gave me a place to put my pain and any trauma that I had experienced, and what
I learned through storytelling is that we are all connected.
I do what I do because I think the art of telling stories—whether it’s through dance, movies, television, podcasts, or writing—connects us and makes us feel like we are not so alone inside whatever it is that we are going through. It helps us feel seen, known, and heard. It also heals us…whether that comes through laughter or seeing someone else experience the same pain we are going through. I believe deeply in the power of storytelling.
It brings me great joy to know that people have derived healing, joy, and happiness from anything I have created. I have such appreciation and gratitude for people who tune in to watch anything that I have done. With that being said, I think I would want people to know more about the causes that I am a part of: The Alzheimer’s Association, Mind What Matters, and Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. My involvement in each organization is deeply personal, and I will spend the rest of my life educating people about the great work they do.
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It is also very important to me that people understand that we are in this thing called life together. I have learned that on such a deep level with my son and going through multiple and ongoing heart surgeries. I lost both my dad and grandfather to forms of dementia—one to vascular dementia and one to Picks Disease.
One thing that I have learned through these experiences is that there is a lot of healing that can be found in helping others. If we don’t get out there and raise money for these foundations or bring attention and awareness to them, then who’s going to do it? I hope that my work and advocacy will inspire others to get involved in causes that mean something to them.
What qualities make you different and unique from everyone else in the industry?
I don’t know if I have any specific qualities that make me unique. My journey in the entertainment industry began when I was very young, I got my first professional job when I was seven years old. I guess that does make me a little unique, having started so young and continuing to work in entertainment my whole life. But I’m also friends with a lot of people who have also navigated that same path.
I think my faith also makes me different or unique. I know other people that do have a strong faith in this industry, but I don’t know many. If I do, I certainly don’t hear it expressed openly very often. I am very open about my faith; it is my rock and is woven into everything I do. My writing partner and I do devotionals together every morning, and we pray over all that we do.
I think that keeps us in such a great headspace and reminds us that, at the end of the day, it’s not just about us. It helps us stay humble, keeps our egos in check, and continues to remind us why we’re doing what we’re doing.
Another thing that may make me unique is that this industry isn’t my life, it’s just my job. I’m very lucky and extremely blessed to do what I love for a living, but I had to make that shift and pivot many years ago for my own sanity and because it wasn’t really in alignment with who I am as a person.
The industry has a really powerful way of sucking you in and making you believe that it is everything, that it is the end-all and be-all…but it’s not. I always remind people that we’re not doing heart surgery, we are making television and movies, and some things are just not that important. Unfortunately, in our industry, sometimes people have the tendency to believe that everything is an emergency and the most important thing that will ever happen in your life. Over the years I have learned that is simply not true.
Describe THAT moment when you realized you wanted to do what you do now. Who did you tell first? What has it been like since that moment?
I was watching Singin’ in The Rain with my grandmother when I was three years old, and I pointed to the TV and said I wanted to do that. It was my Nana that I told first, she was a singer and had a beautiful voice. Every Friday we would go and rent three movies at the local video store, and I would stay with her all weekend so we could watch them together. I knew from the first moment I saw movies like The Sound of Music and Singing in The Rain that I wanted to be a part of making people feel what I felt on the other side of that television.
What has it been like since that moment? Well, it’s been a hard road to be honest. I have been doing this since I was seven years old, and there has never really been a time where I could just relax and say “alright, I don’t have to hustle today for my dinner because everything is kind of working out.” I’ve never really had that career; I’ve always had a career where I have had to fight hard and work as hard as I possibly can to get any opportunity. It has been really tough.
I would be a series regular on a show and then I wouldn’t work again for two years. There have definitely been more valleys than peaks, but I think that’s just the road of a working actor. I am lucky enough in my life now to also be a writer and a producer, so I don’t feel like I’m constantly worrying about when that next job will come. I get to supplement my acting career with my writing and producing career, which has made things so much more enjoyable but also a lot easier. I would also say that now, at this moment in my life, I am getting such fulfillment from being a writer.
I was an acting teacher for 12 years and I still coach. The one thing I tell my students from day one is to find other things that bring you joy. Because if the only thing that you’re focused on that’s going to bring you joy is working as an actor, you’re never going to be happy because you’ll spend more time at home trying to get a job than doing the things that you love to do.
It’s just the way the numbers work out. I think there’s only 2% of actors who actually earn enough money that they don’t have to have a secondary job. That’s just the road that comes with this profession. If you want to be happy and find fulfillment in this industry, work hard at your craft and go after each opportunity with everything you’ve got, but also find other things that bring you joy that you can supplement your income with. Because those were the toughest years of my life in this industry and now that I’ve diversified, I am having a blast doing so many different things creatively other than just acting.
You started in the entertainment industry at a young age. What was it like to basically grow up in front of the camera?
I was just in Connecticut at 90s Con with a lot of my Mickey Mouse Club pals and peers, and we actually talked about this. I think in a lot of ways it just kind of seemed normal to me, I don’t know if that’s a bad thing. I still haven’t sat back to really process if that’s a bad thing or not, but we didn’t live in the time that we do now. It was very different when I was growing up, we didn’t have social media and until much later we didn’t even have paparazzi chasing people around.
I was also never famous to the point where I had that problem. It just felt like I was doing the thing that I loved to do from the time that I was three years old and living very much in my purpose. None of it felt like a job at all, it was just fun. It wasn’t until I was in my 20’s that it started to really feel like a job because it became extremely hard for me to get work for a period of time. That was very hard, especially after having such a blessed experience growing up in this industry where I worked pretty consistently.
Overall, we just had a very different experience, there wasn’t a 24-hour news cycle, and we didn’t have people following our every move. We were allowed to do what we loved to do and also be kids the majority of the time. I will say, the only thing that I did really feel growing up in this industry was something that was put on me, not something that I ever believed was true. Later in life I did believe its truth because this business really likes you to think that “you are not worthy if you’re not working.
I’m sure everyone has heard the phrase you’re only as important as your last job,” well that really does a number to you emotionally, mentally, and spiritually when the luck doesn’t roll in your favor. It deeply affects your self-worth because if you exist in a business that tells you self-worth is based on being successful, you’re going to feel awful about yourself when you’re not successful.
I had to really learn to not base my self-worth on any type of externals, and that’s where my faith really saved me. If I can put my self-worth in something way bigger than me like God, or something that is internal instead of external, then the tides can change. It doesn’t really change who I am or how I love myself. I think that is really something a lot of kids who grow up in this industry have to reckon with at some point in their lives.
Tell us about your upcoming movie Curious Caterer: Dying for Chocolate. When you read the script, what attracted you to the role of Goldy?
The thing about Goldy that I loved is actually in the title, she’s curious. I have said for years that caterers would make great detectives because of their attention to detail, but the thing I love about her is her curiosity. I think that it is a characteristic that is lacking in society today. In fact, I was reading an article where a bunch of professors were saying that the hardest thing they deal with in college kids right now is their lack of curiosity. They just want to be told what the answer is, they don’t want to have to investigate it on their own.
I think that is because we live in a society where we’re used to being told what moisturizer to use, what clothes to wear, how to behave, how to pose in front of the camera—oh no, you do the selfie this way not that way. I think we’re so used to be being told what to think, what to do, and how to do it that we’ve lost the art of being curious about things. My curiosity is one of my favorite characteristics about myself. It used to get me in trouble a lot in Sunday school because I was constantly asking why, but it has really served me in life, especially as a person that is a creative. It has also been helpful in my advocacy work.
I often talk other families through heart surgeries or speak with people who are dealing with an Alzheimer’s diagnosis, and I tell them that one of the main keys to being an advocate for someone you love is asking why, digging deeper, and not being afraid to say you don’t understand why something needs to be done. We have this idea, especially when we’re in a crisis situation, that the doctors, nurses, or surgeons have all the answers. The truth of the matter is, sometimes they don’t…sometimes they’re also trying to figure it out.
It’s really important for you as an advocate to really understand what is happening, either with your child or with your loved one. Curiosity makes you a stronger advocate, not just for yourself but for others, because you don’t have to accept something if you don’t believe it to be true. You can go for a second opinion, or you can ask more questions because your curiosity has taught you to not just take things at face value.
Going back to Goldy, sometimes her curiosity can get her into pickles, but most of the time it serves not just a greater purpose for others but also for her. I just really appreciate that trait about her. The other thing I love about her is that she cares so much about the people around her and about her community. This is just a small thing, but it really matters to me. She doesn’t get caught up in gossip, and I think that’s very important in friendships or relationships because it helps you to really be loyal to the people that you love.
What do you enjoy most about the writing projects you work on? What is most challenging for you about the writing process?
The most challenging about the writing process is, if I’m not the producer on the project or acting in one of the roles, it is very difficult just handing your script over to other people for them to execute. Oftentimes things don’t translate, jokes don’t translate, or scenes that you thought were pivotal and critical when you wrote it are edited out of the movie. It’s really hard to just give up something that you have spent countless hours on crafting every single word, something that you have cried tears over. You’ve thought so deeply about every single moment, and then you just have to give up all control. I find that the most challenging part of the writing process.
I find 1,001 things completely enjoyable about the projects I work on, starting with my writing and producing partner, Megan McNulty. She is such a gift in my life, the perfect partner, and one of my very best friends, I don’t know how I would do life without her. She makes every single moment of it enjoyable, even the tough moments when you are up against a really tough deadline while you’re also dealing with children and life. Night after night when we have to stay up into the wee hours in the morning to get it done, even that’s enjoyable.
I’m still in that place where even notes are enjoyable, to be honest. I like the challenge of getting a note and doing my job as a hired writer to make sure that I fulfill it, while at the same time using it as an opportunity to make the story even better. I just love taking the seed of an idea, something that I’ve been pondering in my own brain, a fun character trait that I saw in someone, or a story and building out arcs and characters. The next thing you know you have this beautiful story that you put together. The whole process of that from beginning to end is just so fulfilling to me and I really love being a writer.
You have also produced some projects for Hallmark. What do you enjoy most about producing?
I love producing because you get to be involved in almost every decision that is made. That’s why I said writing was so hard because if you’re not also the producer on the project, you have to give up complete control and hand it over. If you get to produce, you are also involved in making so many of those creative decisions including the actors that are going to be cast. Film is such a director’s medium, and I think the director can make or break a movie. So, if you know you’re producing, you get to bring in a director that you can fully trust is going to execute your vision.
Not just how you would like to see it but even better than how you see it, and there’s so much joy to be had in that process of making all of those creative decisions. You sometimes get to bring in friends who are super talented and have them be a part of the process with you. As a producer, you truly get to be a part of the story from the very beginning to the very end, all the way through editing. You’re a part of the development, of the story, casting, and getting your crew.
You’re a part of the day-to-day on set with the set decorations and the scenes, then you also get to be a part of editing and that is also such a fulfilling job. I would also say that producing is also one of the hardest jobs in Hollywood, if not the hardest, just because of all that is involved.
You are passionate supporter of the Alzheimer’s Association. What are some things you have learned about brain health during your time working with end that readers should know?
The importance of sleep and diet are two of the very biggest things I have learned about brain health. When my dad got diagnosed with Picks Disease five years ago, I started doing a deep dive into any and all information that I could find out on the prevention of dementia and Alzheimer’s. We’ve thought for such a long time that it was caused by genetics, and genetics actually plays a very small role in receiving a diagnosis of Alzheimer’s or dementia. So much of it is environmental and how we take care of our bodies and our brain. Most of us are not getting enough sleep and sleep is critical to preserving our brain health, along with your diet and what you’re putting in your body.
The other thing that I would say to people is go to therapy. I would advise everyone to read the Body Keeps the Score, which is an encyclopedia, it’s like the Bible on trauma and what it does to your body and to your brain. I think what so many of us don’t know is the effects trauma has on our bodies and our brains. Instead, we just think that we are supposed to endure trauma, pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, then keep going as if nothing ever happened.
That mindset is actually killing us. I am such a big believer in therapy that I went to school for Psychology, it was one of my majors. I am such a big proponent of it because if we don’t work through these emotional things that happen to us, these traumas that happen to us in our lives, they will cause cancers and create brain trauma that will literally shrink your hippocampus.
We have the research to back this up, so I would say go get yourself a great therapist and start healing yourself from whatever traumas, heartaches, or pains that you’ve experienced in life. The beautiful thing about the brain is its neuroplasticity, we can heal our bodies and our brains, but they won’t heal themselves. There’s work to be done in order to do that.
You are also involved with Mind What Matters. For people who are not familiar with the organization, what is their mission?
Our mission for Mind What Matters is to raise money in order to give grants to caregivers who are taking care of someone with Alzheimer’s or dementia. It’s either a wife or a husband but it’s also daughters and sons. People, having to quit jobs to stay home and take care of their loved ones, or work full-time jobs and then also take care of them.
Caregiving is just one of the most exhausting things physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually that somebody can ever do. I have witnessed this time and time again, including with my mother. So many times, the disease will take down the caregiver before it ever takes down the person who’s been diagnosed with it. We were even seeing this with my mother, she was going down and she was not well.
We had to step in and really protect her because we didn’t want to lose our mother and our father. That is the point of Mind What Matters and why I believe so much in the work that we are doing with that organization. Yes, it is critical to put money into research and development, prevention, and finding cures. But we also have to start really helping those caregivers out there because they are drowning.
You are on the Board of Trustees for Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. What is the most rewarding part of working with the hospital and the kids?
Personally, I don’t think that there’s anything more important than saving the life of a child. I have seen firsthand the incredible, lifesaving that is done at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles (CHLA). It is the number three hospital in the country and number five in the world in specialized care. To put it simply, I have seen that hospital perform miracles. My son Bennett is a miracle. He had a very small percentage of surviving his first heart surgery, but he survived because we had a world-renowned heart surgeon, an incredible surgical team, and amazing nurses and doctors there that brought him back to life. Every single person in that department is just the best at what they do.
Bennett has had three heart surgeries total and he will have to have more, and I cannot even begin to tell you the relief it gives me as a mother to know that he is literally in the very best hands. Also, the thing that makes CHLA special is that it’s not just serving 1 out of 20 children in the Los Angeles area, it is one of the top five specialized hospitals in the world, so kids come from all over to be treated there. It’s one of the only remaining hospitals that will not turn a child away if their family doesn’t have insurance or is unable to pay.
That means a lot because I don’t think a parent should ever have to choose between a procedure that could save the life of their child or going bankrupt. A lot of people in this country work paycheck to paycheck, I can’t imagine the stress on a family if their child becomes ill and they have no way to pay for it. One of my favorite things about working with this hospital is that it doesn’t matter how much money you have or if you have insurance, we will not turn your child away. We will not just take care of your child; we will give them the same incredible care as someone who does have health insurance or the money to pay for it.
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve had to face and how did you overcome it?
The biggest challenge I’ve had to ever face was the possibility of losing my child and my dad. I’m still overcoming it. My dad was diagnosed with Picks Disease around the same time that I was pregnant with Bennett and found out that he had four congenital heart defects. I knew I was going to lose my dad and that there was a very big chance my son wouldn’t live very far past birth.
I am not the same person I was then, facing that situation changed me forever in ways I will forever be grateful for. I used to care so much about the entertainment industry and about getting certain jobs that if I didn’t get a role that I really wanted, I would be sad about it for weeks. I remember how much importance I put on all of that. While I would say that maybe for some people that is extremely important, after going through what I did with Bennett, I understand what truly matters. There is nothing more important than the health and wellbeing of your child, of yourself, or someone you love.
I like to tell friends once you’ve been to the show, and by show I mean the life or death show, you can’t unknown or unsee what you now know. You’ve seen that life is fragile and precious and it can be taken from any of us at any moment. I’m still trying to heal from the trauma of all of that. I don’t know that the fear or the trauma will never fully go away, but I’m learning to live with it.
I’m learning to let the really good days be really good and live without fear of the other shoe dropping, We’ve had so many medical emergencies we’ve had to deal with, and I’m learning how to do that but it’s really hard.
List the direct links/URL to your social media profiles so people can follow you:
Follow me on social media to stay up to date on my latest projects and please check out the organizations I mentioned to learn about the life-changing work they are doing:
The Alzheimer’s Association: https://www.alz.org/
Mind What Matters: https://www.wearemindwhatmatters.org/
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles: https://www.chla.org/