We had the good fortune of connecting with Nick Rascona and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Nick, how do you think about risk?
When backed into a corner, we all get to see what kind of animal we are. That’s a blessing. And its the exact time where dreams are made or compromised. I was blessed with the perspective that I am more than a conqueror. Even when we lose, we are still victorious in the spirit of what is meant to be for us. Always have peace in that knowledge. And be empowered to take risks for that exact reason. Its a freeroll baby. You’re headed there anyway. Its a bigger risk to NOT “go big or go home”: Because you risk your self when you shoot short. When you give up.

For me. Risk taking is my M.O. I am a poker player as a side income. I pushed all in on life. I wasn’t bluffing. Let me bear witness to the reader here: If all you got left is to take that risk and it means sacrificing everything- do it, and do it big, and do it like there’s no tomorrow; because there is no tomorrow, only today.

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
What sets me apart from others is my cognitive development as a professional athlete. Even though my pro experience was extremely under documented (different day and time 2008 people still didn’t care about American pro soccer players unless you were on the national team). What it TOOK to get there is what I mean. People don’t realize, even if a person was only categorized as a “pro” for one season, or even, like in my case, one year of minor leagues and then career ending surgery as a rookie. It still took that cognitive level to get there.

What cognitive level am I speaking of?

A high school athlete can perform something (game level performance) they are taught after they have practiced it 6-8 times.

A collegiate athlete takes 2-3 times to perform something they have just learned.

A pro athlete is EXPECTED to perform something, at game level, after learning it ONCE.

I have that engrained in me. I am a one take machine on set as an actor. I take direction extremely well, to the point of conceptualizing it.

I feel this is the main characteristic that sets me apart from the rest of the art community. Not to say others don’t possess that. But it’s not an aptitude, its a skill set developed from hard work.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would normally be able to answer this question with fun and comprehensiveness. But I have moved to LA during the pandemic and there is an asterisk on the past 14 months. But I love hiking at Runyon. I love the beach. That’s all I got as of now (someone help me I need to know what to do in this town!!)

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I have been mentored, blessed and encouraged by so many. I have not always been in the industry. I started my adult life as a journey man soccer player from an underprivileged neighborhood that was traditionally blue collar, football, and very GOP. Let’s just say I didn’t fit in.

My parents and family are who gave me my competitive spirit and love for life. I won’t tell you that my dad is an old school pool and poker shark to pay his way through music college and who beat a chess master at age 15. And my moms lifetime GPA is a 4.0, except her sophomore year in high school when she had to help out on the farm as the eldest sister and had to go to school for an entire year ONLY to take tests and could not attend or turn in homework: She got a C GPA that year. That’s a 2.5 GPA without ever attending. That’s my mom.

Oh wait, I did say that just now.

Early coaches in sports. Way too many to mention.

For Sports. The 2 biggest influences in my life, other than my dad: Tom Katenkamp and Jack Hermans. Tom Katenkamp was a football player for Notre Dame and U. of Cincinnati. He took me under his wing for FREE as a teenager. He provided me with expert strength training, mentorship, and a home church. I would not be the same person without Coach K. Jack Hermans was the soccer coach for Xavier. He ran camps for the youth. He took me under his wing after my mom hired him for Deer Park Soccer when she was on the Soccer Board. Again, sort of divine providence there. The head coach of Xavier became a mentor of mine through the recreational soccer level (the lowest level in the game).

Mr. Bucker in the Deer Park weight room. Gave us all a culture of iron and hard work.

Mr. Schwienefuss for being the biggest authoritarian school disciplinarian all our trouble making asses needed. You ever been followed home from school by a guy who works at the school? Yo ass better not smoke no cigarettes and Try telling the cops, I dare you (laughs).

For Music I have to give all the credit to the Deer Park high school band and music program. Deer Park doesn’t win at much too regularly, but we are in fact the best damn band in the land (sorry OSU you can have the collegiate level….of course any college that isn’t HBCU cough cough, y’all have no flavor, cough….I digress). Joe Vetter, John Matre, Scott McFarland, Marjean Miller, Joe Wesche (trumpet lesson coach). Joe Wesche was the best ever trumpet player to come through Deer Park, a childhood hero of mine, and he gave me lessons for $25 a session. Dirt cheap. Truly just a gesture of love and support from him. Our music teachers created a culture of inclusivity and acceptance; almost seemingly knowing what we were experiencing from the voice of the oppressor so rampant in Cincinnati and other GOP states/cities. (Good job voting blue this year ‘Nati).

Furthermore. In Soccer: Mike Combs. Everyone in Cincinnati doesn’t need me to go into expressing how amazing Mike Combs is for the youth in our town. He gave chances to underprivileged athletes like myself, misfits…AND all stars. To Mike, if you could ball, you could play for him. He didn’t care too much about your past or drama. Once in between the lines of his field it was all family. He took the Cincinnati State Junior College program and put us on the MAP. Nationally. He gave chances to athletes who had learning disabilities and got bad grades but just needed a shot. He gave opportunities to people who had pro talent but would normally slip between the cracks (people like me). He gave a home to immigrant players with Visa issues to iron out before they could join the NCAA (Omar Cummings-who played alongside Thierry Henry when the MLS all stars took on Chelsea…that’s the type of people Mike Combs empowered).

Jules “Fitwell” Scott of Linfield Women’s FC for providing me a professional soccer home in Ireland. David Jeffries GM of Linfield, short-lived all too soon. ( I had career ending ankle surgery my rookie preseason…thems the breaks).

Cincinnati Excite for giving me my first professional soccer experience breaking into that level out of college.

In business: Although my relationships with some of these people became rocky, I still look. back and thank them ultimately for what I learned. A special shout out to the entire Kaiser family back in Cincinnati. You all gave me an opportunity to thrive with your company and 7 years of hard work with you across your families businesses gave me a home and a purpose. Provided me with fundamental and necessary business knowledge. And ethical salesmanship.

Ultimately it was because of Jason Kaiser and Aaron Napier: my 2 bosses (2 different jobs) at the time of 2016: The moment when I pushed all in. I heard a commercial on the radio while I was working on a roof and delivering pizzas for jets pizza. The moment I was taking a 3rd job was my crossroads. I was going to work 3 jobs. McDonald’s 1st shift, then Roofing, then deliver pizzas at night. As a disenfranchised and wrongly convicted felon, this is what I was forced to do. For anyone who doesn’t think systemic issues are real. Try that on for size. Side note: The fact they red line black and Latinx and other people into that situation is the point I most want to illustrate. It was this moment, when I was learning how to make an egg McMuffin on the computer, that I pushed all in. I quit right then and there. Walked out of McDonalds during training, much to the confusion of my trainer I’m sure. I called my remaining 2 bosses, of whom I was close with, and told them I need a one week sabbatical. They obliged. It was during that week I wrote my song on the guitar for my audition. And out of that Audition I got signed. And trained to be an actor model AND musician. Thus creating my new life journey.

I fell in love with Acting. Thom Scott in Atlanta began that. When I came to Thom Scott July 2017 (after a year of training) He asked me: “what are your goals for this class”. I simply responded “make me an actor”. He obliged.

Out of this I began activism for a theatre piece called Moores Ford Bridge Lynching Reinactment. Rev. Nathan Knight of Dekalb SCLC and Cassandra Greene the director of the world famous Reinactment, took me under their wing. Naturally me being myself, I got involved on another level and attended a few rallys and events throughout the 3 years I lived in Atlanta. This was the beginning of me understanding the depths of white privilege and systemic racism. When you live in the capital of civil rights and hub for Jim Crow and the KKK its extremely hard, one might even say, voluntarily ignorant, to not see it. Coming from Cincinnati, a town hell bent on GOP propaganda

Special Shout out to Sharon Ford (now with Helen Wells) and Peter Condopoulos of PCG Talent in Cincinnati. They saw this hard luck story, rough around the edges, blue collar, urban, confused as heck, mixture of a man; and gave me a shot.

Shout out to Chris Reindl and Austin Welch. Austin is a close friend who has never given up on me. Chris Reindl is a rich man who didn’t have to care about me at all, but introduced me to my new colleagues and peers in poker at the Charity Series of Poker.

Shout out to Daniel Negreanu and Matt Stout of the Charity Series of Poker.

Then. LA happened. Shout out to Actors Connect, you know who you are. Shout out to a beautiful amazing queen who will remain nameless for now but who changed my life from the moment I met her. And helped me through the entire pandemic. And guided me. And gave me someone to talk to in the industry when I was all alone in a dark place. And who invited me to clubhouse because she knew I needed it.

Shout Out to Best Talent Agency Las Vegas for signing me.  Shout out to Cory Alan Heaps for the most magical Uber fare I’ve ever had. He was a passenger of mine on Christmas Eve December 2019. He saw a starving artist doing the most I could and he told me to try getting signed with Best.

Websitehttps://www.imdb.com/name/nm10557209/?ref_=fn_al_nm_1

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