We are honored to interview “The Good Doctor” Star, Jasika Nicole, for the Code of Style Magazine. Jasika Nicole grew up in Birmingham, Alabama and she studied musical theatre, dance and studio art at Catawba College in Salisbury, North Carolina before moving to NYC to work in theatre.
When she moved to New York she performed in Broadway musicals and plays before starting her career in TV and film.
She is no stranger to the small screen. She first made her mark on the wildly popular FOX series “Fringe” alongside Joshua Jackson. She also had large roles in hit drama series such as “Scandal” and “Underground”. Other notable TV credits include guest-starring roles on “Station 19” and “Major Crimes” just to name a few.
In addition to being an actress, Jasika practices self-care by spending time creating her own wardrobe. She takes great pride in the fact that almost everything in her closet is an item she made, even her shoes and purses. She is very eco-friendly and prefers to use sustainable products in her designs such as cotton, linen, bamboo and silk. To find inspiration for new designs she looks to the massive collection of sewists who share their work in the online sewing community. She even started her own blog called Try Curious , where she shares her creative process and pattern reviews.
Nicole identifies as biracial and has said that while growing up as biracial, there were very few TV characters with whom she could identify.
Take a read and find out more about what she is fighting for!
1. What first inspired you to consider an acting career and how did you first get your start?
I’ve been involved in theatre since I was in grade school, so a career in entertainment always seemed like a natural choice for me, though I briefly considered majoring in English. I moved to NYC a year after I graduated from college where I studied musical theatre, and I hit the audition circuit like everyone else. I was lucky that I got cast in an Off-Broadway show within a month of moving to the city, which was enough to keep me motivated and dedicated to the craft. Once I knew for sure I could actually make a living as an actor, I didn’t mind weathering the ups and downs that I knew would inevitably come with a career in the arts.
2. Can you tell us a little more about the Good Doctor show and your role as pathologist, Dr Carly Lever?
Dr. Lever is a pathologist on the medical team at St. Bonaventure. Although they start off slightly at odds, Carly and Shaun (Dr. Shaun Murphy) become friends by the end of season 2 and he ends up asking her out on a date, which is a big surprise to her- he is a little difficult to read so I don’t think she recognized that he might be attracted to her. They end up experiencing a lot of “firsts” together as they embark on his first romantic relationship and her first intimate relationship with someone who is neurodivergent.
3. What was it that attracted you to this role?
There wasn’t really anything to be attracted to with this role originally, other than it was attached to a popular TV show. Guest star roles don’t often have that much meat to them, as the writers are often building up a world of possibilities for relationships and storylines with the main characters…they introduce new characters and some of them stick, some of them don’t. Initially Carly’s character description was just “cute, works in pathology.” It’s up to the writers and the actors to breathe as much life into these smaller guest star/recurring roles as possible, and I was very lucky that they saw a lot of potential in Carly’s character after my first couple of episodes, enough to eventually invite her on as a series regular.
4. I understand that your character Carly’s love interest, Dr. Shaun Murphy, has autism. How much did you know about autism prior to taking the role? And is this a cause that you are especially committed to?
My sister is autistic, and yes, I am and have always been interested in helping support the community by raising awareness and, when I have the opportunity, giving space for #actuallyautistic people to tell their own stories and talk about their own experiences. Neurotypical people tend to infantilize and steam roll members of the autistic community as if they are incapable of communicating their own needs and wants, so there is a movement now to remind people who might be ignorant of this fact that just because someone is on the spectrum of autism doesn’t mean they can’t convey their own feelings, advocate for themselves, and fight against ableism.
5. You also seem to be dispelling possible preconceived notions about the LGBTQ+ community. How/why important is this to you and how do you go about incorporating it in day-to-day life?
I am queer, and I live my life openly and proudly. I don’t have to think about incorporating positive representations of queerness into my life, because it IS my life…it’s how I live. I always feel like questions like these are better served when asked of straight, cis people. Of course positive representation is important to LGBTQIA folks- we are a marginalized community whose livelihood depends on the compassion of people outside of our community who have more systemic privilege and power. I am more interested in what non-queer people are doing to dispel negative ideas about our community, and how important positive queer and trans representation is to THEM. It’s the same as asking people of color why positive representation in the media is important to us. That answer is pretty obvious, and I always wonder why people aren’t asking white folks that question, too.
6. Is there an achievement or contribution that you are most proud of in the fight for awareness of cultural diversity?
I’ve been out since the beginning of my career. I understand why some entertainers/public figures might not want to come out, because the backlash, the homophobia and transphobia, it’s all real, and will no doubt have an effect on a person’s career; I don’t judge anyone for staying in the closet. But I also know that we won’t see positive changes happen in our community if we don’t face the fear head on. I am very fortunate that I have always had a strong support system in my life which made coming out feel far less scary. It’s a privilege to be buoyed by love, and I hope that I have used mine to help uplift others.
7. The Code of Style is all about representing and empowering dynamic women everywhere; can you recall a particular moment this year that influenced your growth and evolution as a woman?
I am sure that I will look back on this time and see some big, powerful changes that happened in my life, but for now everything is shaded by the shadow of the pandemic and it’s hard to notice much of anything growing.
8. How do you rise above the pressures of the industry when it comes to the acceptance of certain jobs and staying true to your image?
I try to remind myself that nothing is more important than how I feel about myself. Like, on the most micro level, all I want is to feel satisfied with myself, happy with the decisions I’ve made, proud of what I am doing. How I feel and what I want can sometimes be at direct odds with what the industry wants, or what the audience wants, or what the public wants. But they are not the people I have to please at the end of the day. They don’t nourish me or take care of me when I am feeling sad or celebrate with me when I have a big, personal win. The industry can turn on you at the drop of a dime, so I don’t put my self worth into its hands. I have to know and feel my own value, whether I am on a set being broadcast to millions of people or standing alone in front of my bathroom mirror. I just want to feel good about myself, on my own terms.
9. What do you want to be known for in your life and career?
I want to inspire people to hold tight to all the creative juices that flow through their veins, to create and relish in making art no matter how old they are, and no matter what their background is.
10. What has been the biggest challenge/ hurdle you have faced so far?
Facing racism, misogyny and homophobia in my career.
11. What has been your biggest milestone / achievement so far ?
I’m 40 years old and I am happier and more proud of myself than any age I’ve been at so far. I have a sneaking suspicion that we really do get better with age, which is a massive relief to me, because the culture tells us that life for women just goes downhill after the age of 35. Turns out, it’s all a lie!
12. What are your aspirations for the future? Where would you like to see yourself 5 years from now?
I want to be working, and healthy, and creative. I guess I want what I have now, but more of it. Oh, and celebrating the end of mass incarceration would be pretty amazing, too, but that might take more than five years. Here’s to working towards a future that’s better for us all!
Thank you, Jasika, for sharing this with us today.
I hope you enjoyed this interview with Jasika Nicole. I’m Julia Rees and I’m a French-based Style Coach and the founder and owner of the ‘Style with Julia’ Styling Agency. I offer a Style Mentoring Service to help women develop their confidence and their style, and you can also find Style and Travel inspiration on my blog and follow along on Instagram.
Featured Image Credit : Claire J. Savage