Dreams really do come true. It’s proven every Friday night on the hit ABC television comedy, Hope & Faith, when actress Nicole Paggi plays 15 year-old Sydney on the series co-starring Kelly Ripa and Faith Ford. She plays the girl next door that every young woman in America would love to be like. Yet for Nicole Paggi, a stunning beauty in her early 20s, is living the dream she has had since she was a child of being an actress. Austin-native Paggi has studied acting in both Los Angeles and New York and is considered “the girl to watch” in many Hollywood circles. An avid fashion devotee, she was recently spotted at designer Nicole Miller’s spring runway collection and shows her own great style while on camera, too. We caught up with her to talk TV, fashion, and of course, what it’s like to be in front of millions of viewers every week playing a teenager younger than her actual years.
Lance Avery Morgan: You’ve practically won the Hollywood jackpot by landing a role in a TV hit so soon after you’ve started in the business – how does that feel and is it a tough workload for you?
Nicole Paggi: It feels great. The series is such a great stepping stone. I really love all the people I work with on the show. Since we are a weekly show, it is not really a grind – we are in rehearsals for three days and we shoot for the following two days.
LAM: You are working with some pretty popular actresses – Faith Ford and Kelly Ripa. What have you learned while working with them?
NP: They like to have fun at work. The most important thing is that they create such a fun, relaxed working environment. Faith is so skilled and likes to experiment with different approaches to acting. Kelly is one of the nicest people. She had never worked on a half hour sitcom before and she just goes for it every week. There is no diva mentality, thank goodness.
LAM: You’ve worked with Diane Keeton before – what was that like working with such a legend?
NP: It was my first job when I was on a show called Pasadena. Diane directed and did casting for the pilot. When I auditioned for the lead role (which Allison Lohman eventually got), she was giggling during my serious moments and felt I would be perfect for best friend’s role instead. Getting that role was both surreal and perfect – can you imagine? My first day on set of my first job, and I am working with Diane Keeton!
LAM: You’re television character is a teenager and you’re in your early twenties. Is that difficult?
NP: Playing a 15 year-old definitely has its challenges. I have to sort of forget everything I’ve learned over the years and become naïve again – where everything seems new and fresh. For instance, a younger girl’s voice is different. It has high energy and I have to get that back every week for my role.
LAM: Who are some of your favorite Texas celebrity men?
NP: Definitely Tommy Lee Jones – I just love him. He is so talented, funny, relaxed, and confident in his film roles.