By Olu Alemoru
Two years before she appeared in the same professional orbit of Kim Wayans – one of her artistic idols – rising alternative comedienne/actress Nina Daniels gave the poor woman a hell of a fright.
Spotting the “In Living Color” alum at an LA bookstore, Daniels got so excited that she approached Wayans’ car. “I’m like ‘excuse me,’ and she goes aaarrggh! Yep, that’s how I met Kim Wayans, someone that I love. I scared the crap out of her,” Daniels recalled.
Thankfully, the two thesps actually talked for a minute and as showbiz coincidences dictate they would both wind up in the Sundance Award winning film “Pariah,” written and directed by Dee Reese and starring Adepero Oduye.
Wayans was a brilliant slow burn as the mother of a gay Brooklyn daughter coming into her own and Daniels owned a cameo scene as Gina, a butch lesbian, who verbally eviscerates some homophobic males.
These days Daniels, a Long Island, New York native Ivy League grad (Theater degree from Brown University), who with sang-froid whimsy plays a cello called Gerry in her stand-up routine, is tipped for big things by people in the know.
She appears on an upcoming episode of “Masters of Sex,” and recently featured for Erik Griffin (“Workaholics”) at the Pittsburgh Improv.
“I’m really interested in people that are doing things that aren’t the norm. People that defy how we are supposed to be and break the expectation,” Daniels explained.
It’s a mantra that the quirky Daniels, a delight of nervous energy and comic smarts, lives up to.
Take ‘Gerry,’ for instance. She actually lost out to her strong-willed mother, who insisted Daniels play a stringed instrument in her public school orchestra, rather than the drums the “un-cool” 8-year-old wanted to learn.
Years later Daniels starred in Lydia R. Diamonds’ play “The Gift Horse,” where her character sits second chair in the New York Philharmonic.
“So I started to do research,” Daniels said. “I’m like let me go and find a black female cellist. But I couldn’t find any black cellist. The play got great reviews and my manager says, ‘you should put the cello in the act.
“I’m like, absolutely not. I finally got rid of it. I don’t wanna drag this dead body around with me. It’s gonna make me so different. Why would I do it? Nobody’s doing this.”
Of course, the obvious reply from her manager, and her mother, was that’s exactly why you should do it.
“I think a part of me craves to be mainstream, cool and normal, but there’s another part that doesn’t seem to have the ability to do that,” Daniels concluded. “I get people coming up to me saying, ‘Wow I didn’t know black people played the cello.’ People need to see it and know it exists, and I really want a black cellist to play with the New York Phil.”
Check out Nina’s stand-up dates and watch her bring the funny:-
Photo courtesy of hahahills.com
© Olu Alemoru