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Meet Nina Concepción

Today we’d like to introduce you to Nina Concepción.

Nina, before we jump into specific questions about your work, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I knew I wanted to be an actor since I was five-years-old. Born in South Philly and raised in a suburb outside the city, my mom used to drive me to acting classes every weekend. I wrote in my diary when I was 12, “I NEED to join SAG by the time I’m 14!!!!” (It didn’t happen quite that quickly, but I knew what I wanted!) I also forced my mother to take a “headshot” of me on our lawn and told her to send it to J.K. Rowling to cast me as Hermione in the Harry Potter movies. Big dreams! I’m still wondering to this day where exactly my mom sent that picture…

When I was a senior in high school, I auditioned for New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts to study acting and I got accepted. My training at NYU was incredibly valuable and just further cemented that there was nothing else I wanted to do with my life other than performing.

After I graduated in May 2011, I moved back to Philly and worked at a deli to save money. A few months later, my best friend/old NYU roommate and I bought a one-way ticket to Los Angeles. That was back in August 2011. We’ve been here ever since!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Not at all. I’ve been in Los Angeles for eight years, and I didn’t even have an agent or manager until two years ago! I always say the entertainment industry is a marathon and not a sprint. I have to remind myself of that daily.

As for struggles – when we first moved here, my best friend and I had nowhere to live, no jobs, no money, and no cars. We were very naive and thought we’d “make it” in just months! It was insane and I’m truly shocked we managed to survive. But we powered through, shared a studio apartment for way too long, worked really hard, and things fell into place…again, eight years later! It’s not easy! There have been so many times where I have felt defeated, scared, exhausted, anxious – but what has saved me is the community I have here in LA.

Please tell us more about your work, what you are currently focused on and most proud of.
I’m an actor and writer. I’m also a performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, where I’ve been part of Harold night as well as various comedy shows at the theatre. UCB feels very much like my home-base when it comes to my comedy, and it’s where I really honed my comedic voice.

The thing I’m most proud of is the independent comedy series I am part of called “Schmotts.” It’s about a young woman who has to move back home with her mother and obnoxious step-dad. We just released the first season on YouTube, and each episode is 22-24 minutes. I wrote the pilot and star in it!

“Schmotts” began because my friend Matt Stauter wrote a weird little sketch about this character Gary Schmotts. At the time, Matt, myself, Kyle Kenyon and AJ Salas were part of an improv group but really wanted to film more stuff. We decided to film the sketch, and it just snowballed from there. Matt’s friend/extraordinary cinematographer Mark LaFleur saw the sketch we made and said, “Hey, we should shoot this for real.” Mark deciding to take a chance on this bizarre thing we made really changed the trajectory of our show because now we weren’t shooting on our iPhones. We were shooting on a real camera with a real Director of Photography. We kept filming in the world of “Schmotts” until finally, we were like, “Let’s just make a full-length TV show on our own!”

Three years later, we’re finally able to share it with the world. “Schmotts” has been hands-down the most creatively fulfilling/rewarding artistic journey of my life.

The thing that is so special about “Schmotts” is the collaboration. It’s helped me realize that all I want to do is make things with people I love, forever.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
My idea of success has changed the older I get. To me, I just want to be able to make a living doing what I love – acting and writing. As a Latinx actress, I want to create stories that are true to my upbringing, culture, and experience.

I also make sure to celebrate the baby steps along the way. Every time I book something – no matter how small the part – it feels like a dream. I don’t care if that sounds corny or cheesy! It’s true! My ultimate goal and something that I really want to hit soon is to be able to support myself 100% with JUST acting/writing (aka no side gigs/side hustles even though I’m very grateful for them!) Each little victory is a stepping stone to achieving that dream.

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Image Credit:
Caitlin Fisher Photography

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