Nicole Smolen is exactly the type of young actress that we love. She’s active with social causes and social media, plus she’s into crafting, blogging and cooking.
Nicole, 18, began acting as a child with appearances on TV series including Jimmy Kimmel Live!, Criminal Minds and Brothers & Sisters. Now, she’s making her leap to the big screen with the thriller 8 Days, out on Digital HD, On Demand and DVD today, and an upcoming horror film, Citrus Springs.
Directed by Jaco Booyens and inspired by actual events, 8 Days deals with a dark and difficult topic: sex trafficking. Nicole, who was 16 during filming, pays Amber, a suburban high school student described as “representing every girl and boy at risk of being trafficked in the United States.” After sneaking out to go to a party, Amber encounters the terrifying world of human trafficking, enduring 8 days before she is rescued. The film was created to raise awareness about human trafficking and a portion of proceeds go to survivors.
In a phone interview, Nicole told us, “My friends were like, ‘Are you sure you want to take this on? It’s a pretty dark role, it’s a big challenge,’ but overall, everyone in my life was excited and supportive because they knew the message was so important. People don’t realize that human trafficking is happening in their country. They think it only happens in third world countries like the Philippines or Thailand, but it’s happening all over the world, with millions of people enslaved globally. And something has to be done about it.”
She has plenty of suggestions about what should be done about it, too: “People have asked me, how can I get involved, how can I make a difference? I tell them, you don’t have to donate if you don’t feel you can, but you can do something as simple as talking about it with your neighbors, your family, your friends. Education is one of the most important things. And as Gandhi said, ‘Be the change you wish to see in the world.’ You have to take action yourself: start a charity, volunteer, do something!”
In a bizarre coincidence, Homeland Security busted a pimp in the same motel where Nicole was filming a pivotal scene – DURING filming. “It goes to show you, it’s happening everywhere. It’s more prevalent than you could imagine,” Nicole says.
Despite her upcoming horror movie – “It’s another dark movie where I get to cry again! But I promise I’m a happy person in real life!” – Nicole says she’d also love to try comedy, naming Kristen Wigg as one of her favorite comedians. “That’s what’s so exciting about acting. You can be all these different people and live these different lives,” she says.
For now, Nicole is busy studying film production at Cal State Northridge, where she’s a first year student (she entered as a sophomore due to AP credits). She’s also busy writing for the blog Identity Girls and her own blog Light Above Dark, working on screenplays and crafting adorable, retro-themed pins and jewelry for her Etsy shop, Modern Musing. Of course, she’s also active on social media as @nicolesmolen.
“It’s fun, I love channeling my creativity in different ways whether it’s acting, writing, crafting, cooking,” Nicole says. “I’m a creative person so my mind is always going in different directions.”
We’re excited to see which direction she goes in next!
Photos: “8 Days”/After Eden Pictures