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Meet Katina Nikou

Today we’d like to introduce you to Katina Nikou.

Katina, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I fell in love with storytelling at a production of Annie at The Detroit Opera House thanks to my grandma. I think I was about five years old. From then on, I absorbed every movie and spent hours reciting every word around our house until I eventually got a video camera for Christmas and could start making my own. The very first movie I ever wrote and starred in was a hilarious piece starring my sister, cousin and neighbor called “StepMom”. She was an evil woman who was constantly in our faces forcing us to do things we didn’t want to do. Now that I think about it, it was definitely a nod to my favorite movie “The Parent Trap” (The Hayley Mills Version). I had never put that together till now…Interesting. From there, I used my performance skills as a ballet dancer and eventually switched gears in the spirited sense as a member of the Dance Team in high-school. Once High-School ended and I could be let out of my cage, there was no turning back. I knew what I wanted to do since that day in my big seat in the Detroit Theater and now that I was eighteen, there was no stopping me now. I fell in love with Improv at Second City Detroit believe it or not, while I worked on my official Michigan escape.

During that time, I also tried out for the Real World Chicago and slept with many other hopefuls on the streets of Detroit waiting for our screen time and the opportunity to show how crazy we could be. I never stopped recording everything around me and ended up with an incredible video of all these people waiting their turn to change their fate. At three in the morning there we were freezing our butts off singing “Living on a Prayer” by Bon Jovi. Needless to say, I didn’t make it on the Real World and it was definitely for the best. That was not meant to be my destiny. I was just looking for a way out. I then decided to apply to an Art School in Chicago as a more thought-out escape approach. Once I was accepted to Columbia on the famous Michigan Avenue, I was out and never looked back. It was there I started to meet other like-minded individuals and feel like I had a place in this world. I had my first auditions there and even scored a roll in a feature film that had a big budget and everything. I got on the train every night to go film these long night shoots at a part of town way outside the city. They had a premiere and everything once it was all over. My best friend and boyfriend at the time (now husband) took a limo with me to the screening. The night was great, the film…not so much.

However, the experience fed my soul and I knew I needed more. Making people laugh has and always will be my favorite past time. That being said, Second City is where I found my calling. There’s nothing like the live audience feeling. Nothing beats the immediate validation. After doing some more short films and sketch shows, I desperately wanting to go bigger with my career so my boyfriend (now husband) and I packed up a moving truck and took our story to L.A. This is definitely where I am meant to be, My heart feels so full every time I come back here from having been gone. I thrive on the creative energy that moves through the air and the pressure of someone being on my heels. I like the challenge of this industry. And I know that sounds crazy, even saying it I kind of hate myself a little bit for it, but the struggle has made me a better artist. I learn so much about myself every time I lose and it makes me focus on how I can be better. Sometimes the lack of wins can be soooo discouraging and I give myself never more than a night for a pitty party. I can cry and be mad or angry then the next day it’s about getting up and regrouping. Finding a new form of inspiration to keep going. I have two goals I am still pursuing hard. I would like to one day finally book a role in a comedy series (Specifically Curb Your Enthusiasm) or a film alongside any of my favorite funny females and I would love to sell one of my screenplays. I am still gunning for those things hard, however in the meantime it’s so important to always focus on what we have and what we’ve done vs what we don’t.

Since living in L.A., I have shot numerous sketches that were featured on websites like Comedy Cake and on streaming platforms like Funny or Die. I have created a web series that won best comedy at Hollyshorts. I finally lived out my dream of performing stand-up and took my storytelling abilities to the stages of popular venues such as Flappers, Laugh Factory and The Comedy Store. I was on a sketch team in North Hollywood for a while which I loved writing and performing for. One of my pride and joy moments was when George Wendt came up to me after the show to tell me how funny I was. I about died! I grew up watching Cheers and felt like my life had come full circle. Then, two years ago, I created a series with my Best Friend and Actress Pilar Holland. Never in a million years was this idea on my radar and it is one of my greatest successes to date. We knew we wanted to work with one another in some capacity, however we couldn’t think of anything unique. We sat at Jones on Santa Monica one day with a notebook and some wine and came up with a show that was like a Live Yelp review. We love going out and trying new places but anytime we looked up reviews for somewhere they were so biased we never knew what we were walking into. So we thought it would be fun to give people a live version of the experience so they could decide if they wanted to go and spend their time and hard-earned money. We decided the most cost-effective way to feature tons of restaurants around Los Angeles was through Happy Hour and it was then that L.A. happy was born.

Fast forward to the present and we have partnered with two online streaming services, one here and one in Ireland. We have over 6.5 million views and have been in numerous publications and on several TV News channels promoting the show and receiving a lot of love. I am married to a chef so the world of food really speaks to me. I just never thought I would get to combine my two passions into a career. But that’s just it, never having expectations about how this is all going to go is the best way to approach this career. I also most recently completed a short film I co-wrote and produced titled “Like Nothing Happened”. I am so proud of the story and specifically the delicate dialogue surrounding the topic of early pregnancy loss. So many women never have the opportunity to actually hold their baby and are shamed into feeling as though they have no reason to grieve. Then we add in the partner aspect and what their feeling and it adds a whole other layer worth displaying in art form. Prior to Covid we were on our way to the film festival circuit. We had screened our film at L.A. Indie Festival and were headed to the Minneapolis International Film Festival in April. We hope opportunity is not lost to share this important film with the world.

In the meantime, I am still seeking opportunities to get two of my screenplays optioned. Both female-driven (of course). One is a Romantic Comedy and the other is a Thriller. However, as weird as it’s been to slow down and not be going at the speed of one hundred everyday, it’s been nice to breathe. I have had doing a puzzle and playing monopoly (a FULL game) on my bucket list for two years and never made the time. I always feel guilty when I’m not working. I finally did both of those things and it was glorious. Now onto finishing the Robin Williams biography, I have started at least six times and never finished. In short, there are no rules. I say when it comes to this industry, we should seek out the work that really makes us happy and surround ourselves with only people we trust, and who makes us want to be our best selves. Our work and ourselves will be better for it.

Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
It has and it hasn’t. Sometimes I wish I had started way earlier and got the chance to begin as a kid. But then the journey wouldn’t have been the same and I love all the things I have created thus far and the people I have met and partnered with. And sometimes gathering the funds throughout the years to make stuff happen has its own challenges. Every step of the way there is a cost or fee for something and it’s hard to decide where to put your money and what’s going to get you the most bang for your buck. However, seeking guidance from people surrounding me has helped me maintain a clear vision.

We’d love to hear more about your work and what you are currently focused on. What else should we know?
I am a storyteller. I am not just one thing in this industry and funny enough that’s what I set out to be. When I came to L.A. I thought I had to pick one category to market myself in and so I decided to choose ACTRESS even though the writer in me was aching to get out. It wasn’t until I was waiting for things to happen on the acting front and I started to create my own material that I realized I had a lot more to offer this world. I was trained in so many things and hurting myself by not utilizing those talents. When I finally started being honest about who I was as a person (a dorky, redheaded, girl next door comedian with some serious trauma in her past, born and raised in Detroit) things started to shift for me in a big way as an artist. When I stopped comparing myself to my colleagues and stopped focusing on what I didn’t have, I was free. My confidence level changed and people around me responded. So now I am an actress, writer, host, producer, content creator….storyteller.

Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
Honesty and vulnerability. I like emotions and feelings. I don’t mind exposing myself emotionally or showing vulnerability. It’s relatable and safe and trustworthy. People can smell you out when you’re being fake and putting on a persona. (I.E. Social Media). There is beauty in seeing yourself in others. It makes people feel not as alone. I love that I eat on my food show and demonstrate that I am not always “L.A. perfect” and that I like food. I like that in interviews, I cry and wear my heart on my sleeve. I cry when I am happy and so overcome with feeling grateful and blessed. I cry at small gestures. I cry when I am sad. I like to feel all the feels. It reminds me I am alive and present in the moment. So I think those qualities have gotten me to the place I am today and the relationships I have and the long term friendships. I am also honest. You will always know where you stand with me because I am not one who is capable of carrying around the weight of a grudge. It eats at me and messes with my creativity. It’s a world I can’t live in so I just get it all out there and move on. Hopefully with you, but if not then it wasn’t meant to be.

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