BHM – Celebrating Influential Black Artist Part 3 – MEET Nicole Pryor Dernersesian!
MEET Nicole Pryor Dernersesian – this week’s featured black artist that has and continues to make an impact both on stage as well as an owner of a successful talent agency!
1. Describe the moment when you first became interested in musical theatre?
I saw The Phantom of the Opera when I was 11 or 12 at the Ahmanson in Los Angeles. That was the moment I realized that musical theatre was what I wanted to do. It was only fitting that my first BIG SHOW was The Phantom of the Opera when I booked the role of The Confidante in the Las Vegas Company. Performing in Phantom was a dream come true and I performed over 2600 shows in the 6 1⁄2 years I was with the show.
2. Share a bit about your family dynamic growing up? Was there anyone in your immediate or extended family, or from school, etc. that was a real inspiration or mentor when pursuing your dreams?
For some random reason, I was always drawn to the spotlight from an incredibly young age, even though both of my parents were not a part of the entertainment industry. I found inspiration from shows like Star Search. And my parents were amazing to encourage my dreams by enrolling me in private voice and piano lessons. They did not know a lot about pursuing a career in the arts, but they knew enough to know that training was the key. I will forevermore be grateful to my parents for investing in the training I needed to build the solid foundation I used to build a career as a musical theatre performer.
3. What other professional roles have you had? What did you do for the 2017, 2018 & 2019 Oscars? Any notable moments on the red carpet?
My favorite professional musical theatre roles include Sarah in Ragtime, Yonah in Children of Eden and Rusty in Footloose.
For the Oscars, I worked as an associate on the Talent Relations Committee. The easiest way to describe my position with The Academy is as the Prom Committee for the Oscars. We helped plan and manage the arrivals of the nominees and presenters for the Red Carpet and then throughout the show. It was and is an honor to work with the academy each and every year. I love my Academy family.
4. What was the inspiration for Firestarter Entertainment? What were (are) your biggest challenges and biggest success to date?
Firestarter Entertainment was created because my musical theatre friends and I were having trouble finding representation for television and film. I decided to take matters into my own hands and assist my friends on my own by turning my production company, Firestarter Entertainment into a talent agency.
It was a lot of work starting the company from scratch, having never worked at a talent agency before. I had to learn my role as a talent agent on my own. But I started with the simple goal that my primary responsibility as a talent agent was to help make my client’s dreams come true by helping them acquire acting work. I started with 7 clients, who were my personal friends and now we have a roster of over 1000 actors and my team and I work tirelessly each and every day to continue to make their dreams a reality.
5. What advice would you share to aspiring young actors / entrepreneurs of color?
My biggest piece of advice to not only actors and entrepreneurs of color, but to ALL people, would be to not let anyone tell you that you are less than because of who you are. Know that you are talented, capable, and smart enough to tackle the challenges related to building a successful career in this world and no one, but you can tell you otherwise. Do not put yourself in a box and let the world define who you are. As a Black Woman, I must remind myself every single day that I AM ENOUGH! So… I will say to you… YOU ARE ENOUGH!!! You are and have MORE than enough to pursue your goals and dreams!
6. What was your favorite moment in SDMT’s Ragtime?
I LOVE RAGTIME. I loved Ragtime before I was given the opportunity to tell its brilliant story of how inclusion can literally change the world. I hope that people continue to tell this story, because I honestly believe that stories like Ragtime can change the hearts and minds of audiences around the world.
7. Are you still pursuing musical theatre roles and if so, what future roles would you love to play on Broadway?
Right now, my primary focus is to continue to build Firestarter Entertainment and continue to assist our clients in the pursuit of their dreams. In 2019, for my 40th birthday, I founded Inclusion Media Group, which is 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to create content across all media outlets that share diverse stories in order to raise awareness, promote and improve diversity and inclusion in our world. An inclusive society assists with the eradication of racism and prejudice. My hope is that one day I will return to Broadway as a producer, and maybe one day even as a performer. But… right now my focus is that of a talent agent and non-profit director.
To learn more about the inspiring Nicole Pryor Dernersesian and her work with Firestarter Entertainment and Inclusion Media Group, please visit: https://www.firestarterentertainment.com.