Actress Nicki DeLoach (of MTV's Awkward and formerly of The Mickey Mouse Club) rings me on my cell early this week to chat. She's friendly, sincere and understands the word "y'all" and the goodness of a sausage, egg and cheese biscuit. Five minutes into the conversation, I heart this girl.
It's not often you find down-to-earth stars who are willing to give so much of their time and speak with you as if you've known them forever. But, Nicki does. Perhaps it's her southern upbringing that makes her so polite? She grew up in a small town in south Georgia, and by 12 years old, had began work on The Mickey Mouse Club with Justin Timberlake, Christina Aguilera, Britney Spears and Ryan Gosling. I don't know about you, but I was addicted to this show! [Interesting fact about me? I was in the studio audience more than once - my fav time being when Jodie Sweetin was a guest. Nikki and I both laughed about this because she has a signed photo of her from the show!)]
So, at 15, Nikki moved with just her Nana to L.A. for acting, and returned the second time to discover music with whom she now calls her husband. While she calls L.A. her home now, she tells me, " as soon as I can, I love to go back to the south." And reads off a total laundry list of everything she loves about it: family, old-school friends, wide-open spaces (including, the smell of trees and the rain), the slower pace, college football, food (especially, the above-mentioned sausage, egg and cheese biscuit at her hometown jaunt, Jerry J's), 4-wheelers and simply put, everyone knows your name.
And everyone should know Nikki's name by now since after MMC she's been going as strong as ever. She appears on MTV's smart comedy Awkward, which just wrapped the first season, as young, spunky mom Lacey Hamilton. Nikki says, "[The show] gives a strong message on female empowerment...and the humor of teenage life." It's appropriate for most any age as it dives deep into the life extension of high school and the awkwardness to be found in our adult lives.
Which leads me back to the MMC cast - now that everyone is all grown up, I just had to ask a few questions about the cast.
Justin? "It would rain, rain, rain, and he and I would splash in the puddles." Nikki also mentions playing basketball "every afternoon" with JT, who she counts as one of her best buds from the show. "We were pals."
Christina? Nikki recalls "casting camp" when she first met Christina who was "all of 60 pounds with huge, thick glasses and blonde hair." But, after hair and makeup was finished with her, the first time she walked out, Nikki remembers thinking "OH MY GOSH!" "You saw this girl with spunk and spirit come alive, and when she would open her mouth, you would think 'wow.'"
Britney? "The one thing about Britney I love (and to this day) is she was one of the only celebrities completely unaffected by fame. She was just herself both on and off stage. I loved her sweetness and goofiness, and so many people fell in love with her."
So with all this being said, what's Nikki's take on fashion? "I absolutely love and appreciate fabric and fit - and the fact that it's art," she says. "But, I'm known to not pay attention [in everyday life]." Ironically, Nikki tells me she spends most of her days in her fav William Rast jeans (created by none other than pal JT), boots and a James Perse tee. Her love for vintage is apparent, and her fav spot in L.A. is called Shereen Vintage and she says, " we need to be more respectful of our past." Though, she does mention that if she had all the money in the world, she would live in a department store: Barneys, Bergdorfs, Saks or Neimans (it's like a "fashion orgasm.").
A girl after my own heart, she treasures her Christian Louboutin heels like no other and admits that her first pair "literally sat on a display shelf for about six months." Even on the red carpet, "I carried flip-flops with me because I didn't want to ruin them." A recent trip to Paris for filming left Nikki in awe of the label Delphine Manivet, who mostly designs wedding dresses, but worked on the wardrobe set and is launching a new line of everyday dresses. She also lists Les Fees de Bengale as a new favorite, designed by three young girls who make "the most beautiful, all organic pieces."
Recently seen alongside Jake Gyllenhaal in Love and Other Drugs, Nikki has several films coming out this year, including Flying Lessons opposite Maggie Grace and Hal Halbrook, The River Why with William Hurt, Amber Heard and Zach Gilford, and the French comedy Hollywoo.
I have a feeling you're going to start seeing Nikki everywhere. Trust me, this southern girl is going places in her Louboutins, so watch out.
[Photo Credit: Elisabeth Caren]