This past summer, I was lucky enough to represent Black Talent TV at The Urban Web Summit, a new festival focusing on web series & short films, and be among so many talented men and women. From actors and actresses to filmmakers, the entire event had star power written all over it and one of those individuals was J. Nycole Ralph, creator and star of Working out the Kinks. For those who don’t know, Working out the Kinks is a web series about Harlem naturalista Jada and her roommates who get a new suburban, culturally naïve white roommate and things in their life begin to get quite tangled! Ralph serves as the creator and star of Working out the Kinks and she’s appeared in many other projects, such as the Broadway show The Book of Mormon and Top Five, a film starring Chris Rock and Rosario Dawson.
Check out my recent interview with J. Nycole Ralph where she discusses Working out the Kinks, what her dream role is, what’s next for her, and more below.
1-Growing up, when did you decide that you wanted to pursue a career in acting?
Oooo chile! Good question! That was ages ago! Lol. I think I ALWAYS knew that I wanted to be the center of attention. I did some modeling when I was really young; I started when I was four, I think, and I knew then that I wanted to be a star, be on TV, but there was nowhere for me to really pursue that in little ole Sandusky, OH where I grew up. So it wasn’t until I was in high school when my mom finally started taking me outside of Sandusky for auditions and competitions and things. When I started doing well at those auditions and competitions and really realized that I could do it, I think that’s when I decided that this was something that I wanted to do for the rest of my life.
2-What is your dream role?
Jada is my dream role. Lol. I wanted to play the lead or central character of a comedic ensemble episodic, for example Joan in Girlfriends, Khadijah in Living Single, or Issa in Insecure. AND my other dream role is a civil rights hero. Civil rights leaders were real, live superheroes and their stories are so inspirational and motivational! They just fill me with awe and gratitude. I want to play someone like Rosa Parks, Angela Davis, Diane Nash, Maya Angelou, or Oprah Winfrey.
3-Who is your favorite actor/actress?
Ooooooooh!!!! I don’t know if I can pick one! Tom Hanks and Denzel [Washington] because they are amazing at ANYTHING they do—they’re upstanding men and living legends. Chadwick Boseman because he’s our generation’s version of them and because he’s using his super powers (talents) to tell meaningful stories and be a great role model to our generation and the younger ones. Will Smith because of his work ethic and energy. Yvonne Orji because she’s funny as hell, a great actress, has a beautiful spirit, and is a friend of mine. Tiffany Haddish because she’s funny as hell and just seems to be a down ass homegirl.
4-You’ve done everything from Broadway to films/TV. Which has been your favorite project to work on?
Again, I can’t pick just one! I have to pick one from each category. Lol.
TV: Working out the Kinks, duh! I loooooove creating my own thing for independent TV that shows an aspect of our lives, as black women, that is so huge to us, but that we don’t often see much about in media, and the things we go through or the issues that it brings up, in a light-hearted way that is entertaining/funny.
Film: Finding Magic, Finding Joy, Finding Trust, a short film on Self-Love by Andrea Lewis because I got to be myself. I got to be part of a GORGEOUS film made to empower black women. I was honored to be asked to be a part of it by Andrea. I was also honored to be one of the featured women amongst so many beautiful featured women in that film, including Yara Shahidi, Essence Atkins, Andrea (herself), and so many others.
Broadway/Theater: I’ve done sooooo much theater that I have to pick two for this category. First of all, The Book of Mormon, duh! It was my Broadway debut! Plus, it’s suuuuuuuch a fun show to do (and watch). Night after night, I don’t get bored with it. The cast has SUCH great energy on and off the stage, that I feel so blessed and thankful to share the stage with these people. AND it has an amazing message that I completely and totally identify with. In a way, I feel like The Book of Mormon tells my own personal story. Second of all, The Wiz! It’s been my all time favorite musical since I was born! Lol. So, when I got the opportunity to do this show, it was a dream come true, and the icing on the cake was the amazing cast with Broadway greats like Brenda Braxton, Kingsley Leggs, Trevor Dion Nicholas, Zonya Love…I could go on. It may have been the fiercest cast I’ve ever been in. Not only were they fierce, but they were sooooo FUN! I LOVE to have a good time, and I may have had the best time on and off the stage with this group of people than I have with any show; there was just so much love with this cast. And finally, this was the show that opened up the opportunity for me to be in The Book of Mormon.
5-How did you come up with Working out the Kinks?
Aaaaaaah! This question—Lol. This is my FAVORITE question (in my sarcastic voice)! I seemed to be in this vicious cycle that actors often get into when trying to break into TV & film where I wasn’t able to book work without a reel, but I couldn’t make a reel without work! Sooooo, I decided that I was going to make my own work! I knew that I’d always wanted to be in a sitcom like Living Single or Fresh Prince of Bel-Air ever since I was little, so that’s how I chose the style. Then I had a conversation with one of my friends about making a podcast about natural hair, since there were none out there. When that fell through, I thought, well maybe that could be the subject matter of my show. I then started noticing that whenever black women would get together, at SOME point, hair would come up, and there were ALWAYS stories to tell. That solidified it for me!
6-Are there any similarities between you and your character, Jada?
Oh absolutely. She’s very much based around me—not exactly me but close.
7-Working out the Kinks has been selected for many web festivals, as well as won awards. How does that make you feel as a creator/actress?
It’s VERY encouraging as a creator. It’s like God affirming that I am doing the right thing and headed in the right direction. As an actor, it makes me feel like I need to get on my game and figure out how to balance both. It’s been QUITE the challenge for me to be able to figure out how to get out of writer/producer head on set and the days before when I SHOULD be preparing as an actor so that I’m able to do my best acting work.
8-When can fans expect more episodes of Working out the Kinks?
Starting Monday, May 7th, they can expect to see the first new episodes of WOK and then subsequent episodes will drop monthly!
9-What advice would you give to up and coming actors?
EVERYTHING starts from within. Work on yourself—your inner self, your alignment with your higher power(God, the Universe, your higher self, or whatever it is for you) and make sure that you’re emitting powerfully high vibrations. If you are doing that, you have NOTHING to worry about. EVERYTHING else will fall into place. People will read that and feel that and sense that (even if they don’t know what it is) whenever you walk into a room, whether it’s an audition room or the elevator, and trust that that energy is WAY more important than your talent. Don’t get me wrong, your talent is important, but your inner self and the energy that you vibrate is WAY more important to everyone you come in contact with in the industry…and in life. AND it will add soooooo much depth to your work, as well.
10-What is NEXT for J Nycole Ralph?
Global takeover! Lol….well, that’s probably a little further down the pike. NEXT is continuing to travel the country with The Book of Mormon, and finishing this current season of Working Out the Kinks! THEN I’d like to work on the next season of WOK AND start on a new series…;-)
Check out episode one of Working out the Kinks below and view more episodes by clicking HERE.
Photo Credit: J. Nycole Ralph/WOK(Instagram)