Guys this is the second feature on this series (you can check out my interview with Christiana Yebra HERE)and honestly each week I feel like the women get more and more bad ass!
This week it is my pleasure to introduce you to my little, my soul sister, my Nicholas Cage lovin best friend Nicki Mannion. She just has a firecracker of a personality and honestly- she is living her best life ever and I could not be more proud of her for living such an authentic life. Nicki is chasing her dreams living in LA and working for an Entertainment News show and she is killing it.
Not only as her DG big sister, but as a close friend I cannot tell you how amazing it has been to watch Nicki grow over these last years.
If there is anyone on this planet that I can call or talk to about anything- its Nicki. We have been through so many fun times, from living together in the Delta Gamma house to her standing next to me on the biggest day of my life- my wedding day.
Enough of me rambling about how great she is- Check out her story below:
In your own words, tell me your story.
I have had the same dream in some variation since I was a little kid, but like most dreams, they shift and change. I wanted to be an actor, after I had retired from my WNBA career. However, as I got older I decided WNBA would not be possible so I would stick with just acting and then I decided I wanted to be behind the scenes and write. Then I decided that I just wanted to make TV, I wanted to make something that people watched and enjoyed. Eventually I packed up and moved to LA and after being out here doing temp jobs for 6 months I landed a job as Production Assistant for an entertainment news show. I eventually worked my way up and now I am an Associate Producer. I help make television that makes its way to people’s televisions (or whatever people are watching) every day and that is pretty cool!
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I have always been very vocal about my dreams of wanting to work in Television. So, when I graduated without having a job in Television I was embarrassed and disappointed. I spent 6 months sulking in my parents’ house watching friends and family members getting good jobs and starting their lives. Meanwhile, I had always talked a big game and was doing nothing. My mom literally sat me down and told me to move to LA. She said, “If you don’t go now, you never will” So a month later I packed up my car and drove west. What inspires and drives me is wanting to do my best because I owe it to myself, my friends and family who have supported me. I need to do my best because if I’m not then why am I in LA living so far away from my friends and family. It is a need to constantly prove myself to myself.
Name 3 women that inspire and influence you and explain why:
My Mother: I know this is probably cheesy but it is the God’s honest truth. My mother has dealt with more in her life than most and remains fabulous. She also switched careers in her 40s, from a businesswoman to a teacher and is incredible at it. She is the perfect example of “it’s never too late”
Mindy Kahling: She is a comedic genius. My favorite comedy of all time is The Office, which she wrote, produced and starred in and then did it again with The Mindy Project! She is a Queen! I have looked up to her for years. She is breaking down barriers left, right and center.
Tracee Ellis Ross: I just love her! If you are not following her on Instagram, you should change that! She is someone who is successful in her career and always makes time for her family. But who wouldn’t when your mom is Diana Ross. She seems to get so much joy out of life and has figured out a way to cut through all the bullshit.
Define a great leader. What are some traits great leaders possess?
This has changed for me over the years. I use to think that a good leader was someone who was nice and got along with everybody. That is not to say a great leader cannot be those things, but that is not what makes them great. I think a great leader is compassionate. I think we often confuse nice for compassionate, and they are not the same. My ideal leader is also someone who is honest and will tell it like it is. I am a sensitive person and do not take criticism well. Nevertheless, I would rather hear my mistakes front on than constantly over analyze everything I do. I need feedback, even if it means that it is critical. Lastly, a great leader is someone who takes charge. Kind of obvious but I have seen so many in leadership roles (myself included) who say I will do that. . . maybe. . .someday. A true leader takes action!
What made you passionate about empowering/ supporting other women?
I think the true definition of feminism is empowering all women, whether that is as an entrepreneur or a stay at home mom. The whole idea is we should support women to pursue whatever lives give them fulfillment. That is what I want to do. Too often women compare themselves and strive to be someone else instead of being who they are. This has been the same throughout history; it is just more visible now with social media. As a woman, I find it hard to support or empower myself but I have never found it hard in doing that for my friends. I hope that one day if we all empower each other enough we will be able to empower ourselves.
What’s one leadership lesson you have learned in your life?
Just because you want to be a leader, doesn’t mean you are fit to be a leader. At least, not right now. Very few people in this world are born to be leaders. For most people it is something you need to learn. You need to treat it like a skill, it takes time and practice. And until you put the work in, you shouldn’t take on those roles. You will only be hurting yourself and those around you.
What advice would you give others who feel that their voice does not matter?
Your voice matters, it might not to every person you meet but the only person who can speak for you is you. Use it, I promise you that someone in this world can relate and wants to hear it. Keep speaking until you find them.
How do you balance it all? (work, school, activism, volunteering… etc)
I will get back to you when I have figured it out. You know that meme of a triangle where each point is something you want but you can only have two at a time? That is currently how I am living. I have work and a good social life with friends. Right now, that is enough for me. It also helps that I met most of my LA friends through work so they understand the struggle. I also have a very supportive family and friend group in Texas who always make things easier.
What brings you joy?
This makes me think of Marie Kondo, which doesn’t bring me joy because I was looking for a pair of pants one day and realized that I had thrown them out during my Kondo clean. Damn you Marie. But for me it is pretty simple, I have a job I enjoy which makes a difference. I had jobs before when I did not even want to get out of bed in the morning. I know that not every job you have will bring joy but you should always strive for that and if it is not bringing you joy then get what you can from that job and then keep searching. I also have a good group of friends and my family always brings me joy. And it doesn’t hurt that I live 45 minutes from the beach.
Isnt Nicki just amazing? I am obsessed with her in every way possible- as well as being so freaking proud of her! Fun random fact Nicki was one of the first people to come visit me after I got home from my weight loss surgery. Although I was on some amazing pain meds, I do remember her radiant smile greeting me and me just crying.
To my amazing little bit- thank you for being such an amazing inspiration and role model. I don't think I have ever told you how much I really look up to you and admire you. I admire how bad ass you are. While I do admit, I remember the day you called me and broke the news to me that you would be moving to LA. I remember crying my eyes out uncontrollalbly. Part of those tears were sad, but mainly those tears were incredibly proud tears. At that point in my life, I dont know if I would have had the guts to load my car up and move all the way across the country with nothing except what I had on me. The truth is I have always admired you and your spirit. You are tenacious, vivacious and unapologetically you. You love fiercely and support not only me but our group of friends in such a way that I cannot give any words justice. I will forever be proud of you and all of your accomplishments - I love to you to the street lamp and back.
If you wanted to get in touch with Nicki you can follow her on instagram or shoot her an email :)
Forever in the cage <3