Q&A

Strong Female Lead: Nicolette Robinson on Being the 1st Woman of Color to Star in Waitress

10.19.18

Nicolette Robinson is cooking up something special at Waitress. The 30-year-old actress who played Jane in the Showtime drama series The Affair is currently starring as Jenna (opposite Al Roker) in the hit Broadway musical penned by Sara Bareilles. Broadway Spin caught up with the star to find out how her transition from set to stage is going and how she decompresses at the end of a two-and-a-half hour show each night.

Nicolette Robinson admiring her Waitress ad in Times Square. Photo: Instagram, @nicolettekloe.

Nicolette Robinson admiring her Waitress ad in Times Square. Photo: Instagram, @nicolettekloe.

Broadway Spin: What was the first Broadway show you saw?

Nicolette Robinson: When I was in eighth grade, my mom took me and my sister to New York for the first time… This was a special trip because it was my first time seeing a Broadway show, which was Aida. I was a fan of the cast album and sat there in awe seeing this strong black woman leading this beautiful show. It just gave me so much hope. For most of my childhood it was very rare to see a woman of color leading a show with so many facets to her story.  She had such a full journey and dug into the soul of her character. I thought, “Wow. That is what I want to do when I grow up.” I was just 13-years-old but I bought a ticket by myself and went back the next day.

BS: What is it like for you to make your Broadway debut in Waitress?

Sara Bareilles, Nicolette Robinson, and Katie Lowes rocking out. Photo: Instagram, @nicolettekloe.

NR: When I got the official phone call that they were offering the part to me, I was at my mom’s house in Los Angeles. I hung up and my mom and I cried and held each other. We reflected over how crazy the last couple of years have been and how grateful I am for this moment. As an actor, you pray to work on something you feel passionate about that tells an important moving story. To be the first woman of color to do this role is so special. It has connected me to so many people who have reached out or come to the stage door. People share their stories of how important it is to see someone who looks like them or has similar experiences on stage.

BS: What is your dream role?

NR: I have always been really interested in playing Stella in a Streetcar Named Desire and also Elphaba in Wicked. They are two very, very different roles but I would love to take crack at both of them and also play some new characters. I feel like I understand Stella. I find her really intriguing and fascinating and would love to like find my own take on her. I mean, you can’t get much better than Tennessee Williams. Elphaba is an epic, awesome role. I just love that show. I grew up listening to the cast album.

BS: When the show ends, how do you come back to Nicolette Robinson instead of Jenna?

Nicolette Robinson at the stage door. Photo: Instagram, @nicolettekloe.

NR: It’s kind of a slow release. It’s such an emotional journey it’s not easy to like to completely shake it. But I’m lucky that I’m in such a happy space, so that helps.  I just connect with my cast mates and visit with my friends and with the fans at  the stage door. I think of all the love that comes my way. That makes it very easy to come back to a positive present space.

Waitress is playing at the Brooks Atkinson Theatre and tickets are in play through Broadway Roulette.