“I love everything classic, I feel classic lives forever; It never dies, it always works.”
Walking into Nia Jervier’s home is essentially walking into a Pinterest dream world. With a black and white palette throughout that brings the theme of the house together you can tell she has a passion for making things better. Her couch, a vintage reupholstery project completed by Jervier herself, has seen it’s own share of Hollywood success in that it has been featured in several projects and on camera several times. Jervier’s style is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to who she is.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, the Caribbean actress has been acting and performing since she was nine years old. She would eventually go on to study her craft at The New School’s American Music and Dramatic Academy. But it was the urging of an aunt for Jervier’s mother to put her in a musical theater class because she could sing that changed her life.
A self-described “musical theater geek,” Jervier attended La Guardia High School in New York – famous for the movie Fame. As if providing evidence, Jervier boasts that she knows a little something about every musical that has been produced in, at least, the past 30 years, which makes sense as she spent 10 of those years receiving musical training at City Lights, a now defunct art school in New York. After getting to know Nia Jervier, her musical theatre maven status isn’t difficult to believe.
It takes years for some people to realize their calling (some never do). Not Jervier. She has wanted to act her entire life, or at least as far back as she can remember. When her dreams seemed too lofty or far-fetched or when she thought she needed a “plan B” she tried her hardest to be “responsible” and hold down a “real job,” pursue a safe, “sensible” career.
Soon enough she realized the safe, sensible route would never work for her, it would never be her real job. The 9-to-5 life made her so miserable that she had to quit, and quitting her safe job forced her out of her safe, albeit unhappy, comfort zone. But she will tell anyone that she is far better off because of that decision. During her interview she constantly reinforced the notion of following your path no matter how difficult it may be.
Her change in career wasn’t the only way the actress jumped outside of her comfort zone. She moved to the west coast after her contract for a show that was commissioned to go to Broadway fell through. The show not working out was a huge disappointment but Jervier would not give up on her dream. She knew she had to keep going so she packed up and moved to Los Angeles.
A native east-coaster, Jervier never dreamed that she would eventually call Los Angeles home. Now she can’t imagine living anywhere else. “Every single day,” she explains, “is the most positive uplifting, sunny day.” She attributes a lot of this Los Angeles optimism to the weather – her favorite thing about the city.
Jervier’s outlook on life in L.A. is telling in many ways, an attestation of her personality and character, an intimation of who she is as a person. In a city saturated with residents pursuing huge goals and chasing dreams that can at times seem insurmountable, where disappointment and heartbreak is often times more common than their joyous counterparts, there’s a safe bet not everyone or even majority of the inhabitants hold this view of life in L.A.
This fervent optimism and wholehearted hopefulness on life and her future is contagious. I have to admit, at the end of a long day of helping with photo shoots and interviewing, speaking with and being around Nia Jervier was energizing and encouraging.
Raised by several “strong women,” Jervier felt pressure to have a stable career with continual income, so when she decided to pursue acting full-time it was an adjustment for her family. Although the pressure came from a place of love and wanting success for her it sometimes translated to annoyance for the actress. This part of Jervier’s story isn’t uncommon. Most of our families genuinely want the best for us and want us to be successful; the problem comes when someone else’s definition of success doesn’t match our own, as was the case for the aspiring performer.
In the “I’m an ACTOR Not a Clown!” episode of her video diary, Spill the Tea, Jervier recounts her frustration with family members who failed to understand exactly what she did as an actor. “Every single week my mom calls me with a new suggestion of something fabulous that she thinks I can do and it’s usually something that’s a lot more structured than acting, which is my passion,” she explains. “Don’t get me wrong, my family, they love me, they support me but they would be a lot happier if I were in something that they could see on TV, right this second [and] also paid me a very large check – right this second!”
With career suggestions ranging from sheep herding to NASA and back to scooping poop it’s clear her family has the best of intentions – they, like the families of most of us in creative fields, are just a little off the mark and don’t always get it (an aunt even asked why she hadn’t auditioned for the circus – she is a performer right?). She was offered $5000 once to take an interior design class, which Jervier hilariously recalls was very tempting. On turning down the offer she says, “You’ve got to be called or crazy, $5000 is a lot of money!” Reminding us what’s more important than money she adds, “Yes I’m good at [interior design], but that’s not my calling. I don’t believe that that’s what God put me on the Earth to do.”
Some time has past since that particular incident and she assured me that her family has become more comfortable with her career choice, particularly since she is currently a working actor.
And boy is she working!
She is featured in the upcoming pilot presentation of the Benjamin Corey Jones-created, Anthony Hemingway-directed, Lena Waithe-produced Bros Before Hos, a series focused on the lives of three brothers looking for love in Los Angeles. She plays Dana, the wife of one of the brothers, a role she describes as “Olivia Pope meets Lena Horne (which I am here for since I sufficiently stan for both of those women).”
Jervier can also be seen in writer, director Justin Simien’s Dear White People along with the rest of her Twenties castmates. Dear White People was a movie she never originally intended to play a role in even though when she first read the script she knew she wanted to be a part of it in some way.
It was her work in Twenties that secured her part in the highly anticipated film, along co-stars Ashley Blaine Featherson and Courtney Sauls. After being unable to find the extra talent that was right for the film, locally in Minneapolis, one of the casting directors suggested Simien and Waithe call “those girls from Twenties because they were amazing.” She got the call and packed her bags for an extended stay in Minnesota.
That experience wouldn’t be her first working with Simien and Waithe. This phenomenally effective duo is the same duo responsible for the Twenties pilot presentation. Directed by Simien, Nia plays a character of the same name. Even though the character is based on her and in turn written for her since she is an actress, the name being the same as hers is a coincidence. She recalls the character having a different name originally and being a part of the table read when other ideas for the name change were offered among the group, “Nia” was one of them. It stuck, which she took as a sign from the universe.
Some people may find it easy to play themselves on screen but Jervier believes “it’s even harder.” The pressure to play oneself and not take on a completely different character can be a challenge to an actor who wishes to stretch themselves in their work. Still, Jervier is thankful for the role because it’s very fun to play.
What she’s most proud of is that “Twenties is telling intimate stories,” and that women of all races, especially black, can see themselves in the characters. “It’s important to showcase women…and marginalized people,” she stated when speaking about the need for a show like Twenties.
Regarding the multi-layered presentation of the characters of color in the pilot and if audiences are ready for a lead character like Hattie – Black, quirky, lesbian, multi-dimensional – she responded, “People will never be ready. You have to present it and they will accept it.” The conviction that Jervier has about the future success of the show is a conviction depicted in other aspects of her life, such as how she chooses roles and projects to join.
Many people pursue acting for either the money or the fame, neither of which drove Jervier to pursue her passion in the arts. So, what did? The art. And her ultimate goal? To “be a world changer through my art,” she said with an assuredness you can’t help but to believe. The thing about this goal is and she’s already doing that.
For Jervier, it always comes back to the art. “I will work for free, but it has to be quality,” she says. It has to be a project she believes in, which is always the main motivator for Jervier. We hope this will always be true because when you combine the talent, conviction, character and pure optimism that is Nia Jervier, with amazing projects of quality and substance you get classic, timeless art that reflects the endless possibilities of her limitless potential.
Like her co-stars, Jervier doesn’t pass up opportunities to talk about one of her biggest support systems, The Resurgence. A collective of Black creatives and playmakers, Jervier is one of the coherts’ biggest promoters. She feels like the collective understands her and that this sector of media is the place where she thrives. If she doesn’t believe in it she won’t be able to give it her all, which is why projects like Twenties and Dear White People are perfect for her.
When she speaks of her collective of creative friends, her personality is on full display. When asked what the resurgence and The Resurgence was to her she had this to say:
“Rebirth of creativity! A mash up of brilliant art, and artists who want nothing more than to create projects that genuinely touch the soul. Viewers are starving for truth. This change fills a space that has been hollow for too long. The “resurgence” is a gift to audiences of an experience where they can be moved, challenged and engaged. They will exit theaters feeling and thinking with a depth like never before. It makes hearts beat something new, expands minds and encourages intelligent colorful conversation. It’s the incubator that will hatch new writers, directors, producers, and actors that aspire to inspire. Lives will be changed!”
If Jervier downplays her magnificent personality it’s only because she has nearly a dozen well-qualified people to testify on her behalf. Her most recent birthday, June 7th (which she shares with the Father of Fabulous, Prince), was a prime example. My own Instagram and Twitter feeds were filled with well wishes from her close friends and fellow members of The Resurgence. Pictures and videos surfaced the day after what appeared to be an epic party filled with friends and loved ones, all of whom were ecstatic to celebrate with such a wonderful woman.
The “5 Reasons to Watch for Twenties Actress Nia Jervier” article we ran in honor of her birthday earlier this month was shared hundreds of times within hours and kept getting major hits days later (we know, we saw the stats), most sharers altering the title in someway to include the phrase “obsessed with” before posting. The people love Nia Jervier.
They also love her style. Ms. Jervier’s style and eye for décor is impeccable. Inspired by her grandmother’s and mother’s collection of vintage pieces, Jervier believes that her (very stylish) home is an extension of herself. “[I want to] feel like my home is rising up to meet me when I walk in,” the actress explained. She’s not just picking and choosing vintage pieces and putting them together. She enjoys rejuvenating furniture and giving a modern feel to old pieces. All of this inside a fluid layout accented with telling artwork on the walls gives the look and feel of her home a much grander – but not pretentious – overtone than the same empty space might otherwise provide. It’s in the details.
Her love for things of days past made her choice to embody Diana Ross for the photoshoot that day a perfect one. Even though the classic actress that resonates most with her is Diahnn Carroll, she fangirls pretty strongly for Ms. Ross. “I am Diahnn Carroll,” she admits, “but I love Diana Ross.” Her love for both actresses comes from a connection with her own mother. Carroll reminds her of her mother while she respects Ross’s ability to be both a great singer and actress while still being a great mother.
When she’s not acting, channeling fabulous black actresses from the past or sending time with her beloved poodle Chutney the Trini artist spends her time on social media—Pinterest in particular. “I have over 2000 pins, it’s a bit ridiculous,” she admits. On her board you can see even more of her fashion and style inspiration another visual display of her personality and who she is.
Even though she was born in Brooklyn the actress is unashamedly Trinidadian. She introduces herself as Caribbean and will tell anyone, anytime of her Trini upbringing. When asked if she could only have one meal for the rest of her life she responded without hesitation: “something Trini and something spicy.”
Being from New Orleans, a place where “if it ain’t spicy it probably ain’t done yet,” I can totally relate. For as awesome as Nia Jervier is and for how grand her home appears, everything about her is exceptionally relatable, inviting and down-to-earth. She has a boundless concern for the comfort of anyone in her presence and a genuine interest in the lives of those around her.
As soon as we walked into her home her hospitality was on level 10 – barely responsive, we were all trying to take in all of the pleasant aesthetic her home and her presence had to offer. We stopped at the couch, entered another room and got stuck at the bookshelf stacked high with an impressive and eclectic collection of classic literature, looked back out over the entirety of the space we’d just crossed before everything fully registered with us. As we sat down our photo equipment Jervier brought out a round tumbler and a mini bottle of water for our managing editor who’d accepted one of her many offers.
She would keep checking on us throughout the day to make sure we weren’t in need of anything. Before the day was done she sent out a glass serving tray of four miniature cans of Coke with the classic red and white striped straws inside. It was at that moment that we were officially rendered “unable to can.” The attention to detail, the novelty of it all, the feeling of vintage and classic ever-present even in serving her guests a soda.
Prior to the day of the interview and photo shoot Ms. Jervier and I had been corresponding for weeks about the details. I felt like I had gotten a good sense of her personality – sweet, caring, vibrant and personable. After interviewing her both solo and with her Twenties co-stars, watching her slay the shoot, and getting extra time with her, post-Sauls’ and Featherson’s departure, as we reassembled her living room to it’s original state, I quickly realized that there was so much more to her. She’s outspoken, funny, sarcastic but most of all genuine.
It’s impossible to be in Ms. Jervier’s presence and not feel like you’ve known her for years. With a welcoming spirit and an energy that is so inspiring that you can’t help but feel more positive when you’re around her, Nia Jervier is following her dreams and being the artist she has always known she is meant to be.
This isn’t the first time we’ve shined the spotlight on Ms. Jervier. After spending time in her gorgeous home, seeing her interact with her closest friends and hearing her speak impressively and passionately about the things that matter most to her, I can guarantee this won’t be the last.
Here’s how you too can make your membership of the Nia Jervier fan club extra official:
If you haven’t already check out Nia Jervier in the pilot presentation trailer of Bros Before Hos and the pilot presentation of Twenties: