An Interview with Nikolle Doolin of the Nosleep Podcast

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Read Time:11 Minute, 34 Second

All photos courtesy of Nikolle Doolin

Today, we continue our NoSleep Podcast family of interviews with none other than one of NoSleep’s longest-running actors, Nikolle Doolin!

Having been with the show since season 2 totaling and nearly 400 stories, Nikolle lends her voice to provide an array of characters and narration styles.

We talk about her time on the show and her background in all facets of her acting career from theatre to voice work for various publications. I can’t thank her enough for the amazing and detailed answers given below so let’s hand it over to Nikolle!

Anthony:
Nikolle, it’s truly an honor to have you with us for our NoSleep series of interviews. When I’m asked who my favorite voice actors are, it’s hard just to choose a few because everyone is so extremely talented, and you’re up there with my favorites. How have these past couple of years been for you?

Nikolle:
Thank you, Anthony. It’s a pleasure to be invited to join your interview series. I’m always happy to hear when someone enjoys my work. It’s a privilege to be counted among your favorites.

The pandemic has been a stressful time for everyone, of course. The main concern I had was caring for my elderly parents and protecting them from the virus. My mother has stage 4 breast cancer and my father has stage 5 kidney disease, so it’s been a challenge for a number of years already. The pandemic kind of felt like navigating a minefield at times. We’re all vaccinated now, so I feel safer than I did beforehand with a kind of cautious optimism looking forward.

You know, listeners will often talk about how the podcast helps them get through tough times, but it also helps the creators too, I think–to have a project to focus on and just slip away into another world and cast your worries aside. That can be therapeutic.

Anthony:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself before we dig this? For starters, who are you, and where you’re from? You have a background in theatre, right?

Nikolle:
I’m from Massachusetts and I am creative by nature. I was the kid the teachers called on to read out loud in class. I would read or perform at school assemblies and was in the drama club. I later went to a performing arts high school as a theatre major for my senior year and then pursued theatre studies at the university level including stage acting, playwriting, directing, etc., and continued with it after graduating for a time. I later focused on voice acting and writing.

Anthony:
You’ve done a lot of voice acting. That said, can you tell us about your roles as a voice actor before you joined NoSleep? How about what you’ve got going on outside of NoSleep?

Nikolle:
Before I got involved with podcasts such as NoSleep, I did voice work for corporate e-learning, radio ad, film, computer game, and audiobooks. I hosted my own podcast for a while doing classic literature and was found online by the horror writer and actor Lawrence Santoro (the original host of Tales to Terrify) who sadly passed away some years ago. He was very supportive of my acting and writing and invited me to narrate for them and also to submit a story of my own, which I narrated for the show. I benefited greatly from his kindness and encouragement. I would have to credit Larry with being the reason I wound up performing in all the other podcasts since.

Aside from NoSleep, I’ve become a regular narrator on The Disturbed Podcast, and have additionally performed roles or narrations in: The Oyster, Liberty, Vast, Sirenicide, Calling the Darkness, Hearing the Haunted, Tales To Terrify, StarShipSofa, Far-Fetched Fables, Congeria, Manor House, and Crime City Central.

Anthony:
You’ve been with the show since season 2! It’s my understanding that David Cummings discovered you. Were you aware of NoSleep when you were contacted? How did you become a part of the show? Aside from voice acting for the show, what other roles do you have as a part of the NoSleep team?

Nikolle:
David discovered me on the horror podcast Tales to Terrify and invited me to join NoSleep. I wasn’t aware of NoSleep until he contacted me. Aside from performing in the stories, I have also done some writing and acting for the ads.

Anthony:
Being one of the longest running actors on NoSleep, what are some of your favorite memories of your time with NoSleep?

Nikolle:
All through these years, the constant highlight is the reaction to my work by the writers and the listeners. It’s truly gratifying when the writer is pleased with how I’ve performed their work and wonderful to hear from the audience about how much my work has touched their lives.

I always want to do a good job. I want people to feel they didn’t waste their time or money. Enthusiasm is the main takeaway. Knowing that people are enthusiastic about what you’re doing, makes it all worthwhile.

All photos courtesy of Nikolle Doolin


Anthony:
What are some of your favorite types of characters to play as a voice actor? Does it differ from on stage? Do you prefer narration roles or character roles? Wonderful job with the latest episode narration “Love in the Apocalypse” by the way!

Nikolle:
Thanks. I enjoyed narrating “Love in the Apocalypse.” It had a unique twist.

A well-developed character in a well-crafted story is my favorite kind and that would be the same performing on a stage or in a recording studio. I like it when I have something to sink my teeth into when the words on the page are a pleasure to perform whether that’s a villain, or a hero, or just an ordinary person. It’s especially great to have performance variety and not get typecast. As far as narrations versus roles, narrations do give you more material to work with, and it’s always great to get cast for them, but there are roles that are a lot of fun to do or let you exercise different acting muscles.

Anthony:
Do you have a process for getting into character or in a headspace to record for an episode? Are some characters easier than others for you to do?

Nikolle:
Time is often limited, so you have to summon that headspace quickly. When I first read the script, I start to figure out who the character is and begin to prep as I’m learning about this new story. I start to try out voices by reading dialogue aloud. I mark up the script with any performance or pronunciation cues I may need. After that, I will do some vocal exercises and stretches to loosen up and some meditative breathing if I need to get more relaxed. Then it’s go time.

Some characters practically leap off the page into your body and it’s easier to perform them; some take a bit more coaxing to materialize.

Anthony:
What does horror mean to you and what got you into the genre? What are some of your earliest memories of horror? Do you have any favorite subgenres or ways to consume horror?


Nikolle:
I think horror gives us a chance to look into the darkness and to contemplate what else may exist beyond the known natural world, and to test the limits of our own nature.

I grew up watching a lot of classic films. They were so artful with lighting and with hinting at the unknown, the terrifying; it was often what you didn’t see that scared you. I’m partial to a good ghost story, so films like The Innocents (1961, based on Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw) and The Uninvited (1944) are some of my favorites. I also remember watching “Creature Double Feature” on TV on channel 56 on Saturdays as a kid. I’m not into monster stories so much now, but I was hooked back then. Speaking of Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw, that’s one of my favorite novels. The film is great, but it’s even better to read it yourself and wonder if the ghosts are real or imagined; it’s very psychological. Of course, I also love the Old Time Radio horror shows. I think each medium gives you a unique experience; I like to consume horror in different ways at different times.

Anthony:
We are currently on episode 12 of season 16, what have been some of your favorite episodes this season so far? What are some of the more memorable episodes you’ve been a part of and if at all possible with the hundreds and hundreds of episodes, some of your all-time favorite episodes?


Nikolle:
That’s a very hard question to answer. There’s so much excellent work that goes into each episode, but there is a project coming up this season that I’m particularly looking forward to, but you’ll have to wait and hear. As far as past seasons, I’d have to say a number of the Old Time Radio episodes stand out for me: The Iscariot 8, Sorry, Wrong Number, etc. Also, the finale for season 12 was rather memorable. We performed “Whitefall” by C.K. Walker about passengers stranded in a bus depot during a storm. It gets very intense and there were a lot of great performances along with the excellent score and sound design.

Anthony:
(I just want to cut in for a second and say that “Whitefall” was such a great season finale episode and one of my favorite finales!)

All photos courtesy of Nikolle Doolin



Anthony:
One of my favorite questions to ask now is what equipment do you use to record? I love learning all the various things that different actors use to record for their shows!

Nikolle:
I use an AKG mic, a Scarlett 2i2 audio interface, and either Sony Sound Forge Audio Studio or Reaper for recording and editing software.

Anthony:
NoSleep just had its 10th anniversary and is a large production with amazing people involved. What’s it like for you to be part of something so big and so loved by so many people?

Nikolle:
I can’t believe how many years have passed and how the podcast has grown. Some don’t last or don’t expand the way NoSleep has. David has built an impressive creative platform showcasing a myriad of talented artists, and he compensates them for their hard work. It’s been a privilege to be part of it. I’m continually amazed by how many people support the show all over the world. It’s gratifying and somewhat surreal. You do your work in isolation, but then it really hits you when you see reactions online or at a live show. It’s been wonderful.

Anthony:
What are some challenges you face as a member of the show? Are there many differences between stage acting and voice acting?

Nikolle:
All voice actors generally face the same challenges. I think the main ones are: keeping out extraneous noises from getting into your recording and staying healthy so your vocal instrument sounds its best.

Regardless of whether you are on the stage in front of an audience or in front of a microphone in isolation, you still have to focus your delivery and energy toward someone. I was taught that, when performing a monologue on stage, you direct your focus toward the audience, but you also have to decide who the audience is representing. It’s the same thing when you sit in front of a mic. The microphone or the live audience becomes that person you are speaking to: your lover, your enemy, etc. The logistics are different, but the goal is the same.

Anthony:
Do you act in real time when recording any of your stories that include other voice actors or are you able to do your parts solo?

Nikolle:
We don’t act together for the podcast episodes. We record on our own. It works rather well. The only time we act together in real time is either on stage at the live shows, or on video performances streamed online.

Anthony:
Here’s just a random thing I’ve been curious about. How far in advance are episodes recorded? How much time do you have to prepare for a role, record it leading up to it airing?

Nikolle:
The stories are recorded several weeks ahead of each episode to give Brandon time to score and the producers time to do their magic. We typically get cast three to five days before our deadline, unless it’s a special episode (like a season finale or holiday show) requiring a longer preparation time.

Anthony:
One more before I let you go. What are some other passions of yours aside from acting and theatre?

Nikolle:
Writing is also a passion. I like to create stories as well as perform them. I’d love to travel, when that’s possible. There’s also nothing like a good hike in the woods alongside a rustling river; spending time in nature is very soothing and important to me, and New England has some beautiful mountains I like to visit.

Anthony:
Nikolle, thank you so much again for taking the time to do this with us, I really do appreciate it. Is there anything you’d like to add that we may have missed or didn’t get to go over?

Nikolle:
Thank you for the opportunity; I enjoyed it. I think we covered a lot of territory. It was quite a nostalgia trip. I would just like to express my gratitude to everyone who supports the show. We couldn’t do it without you.

All photos courtesy of Nikolle Doolin


Dig this? Check out the full archives of A.M. Radio, by Anthony Montalbano, here: https://vwmusicrocks.com/a-m-radio-archives/

About Post Author

Anthony Montalbano

Anthony Montalbano grew up in New York and North Carolina. Anthony is a baker by day and a contributor to the Vinyl Writer cause by night. With a passion for podcasts, Pop Punk, video games, and more, Anthony brings a unique and fresh perspective to the team. Anthony's column is a catch-all for the things he loves most, and he wouldn't have it any other way.
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