We had the good fortune of connecting with Niketa Calame-Harris and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Niketa, is there a quote or affirmation that’s meaningful to you?
One of my professors in undergrad use to say “uplift one higher than yourself”. Those words rang true to me because my mother, may she rest in peace, instilled that line of thinking in me as a youngster. To me it means that you have never arrived you are always a work in progress and are always learning and changing. You always have things to offer those coming up after you on this journey called life. I don’t think we are put here to take and bottle up and do life alone. We are meant to do life in community with others and lift each other up.
One of my biggest roles as a kid was when I booked the role as the voice of Young Nala in Disney’s original animated film The Lion King. Mufasa says that “we are all connected in the big circle of life”. To uplift others higher than yourself can only bring positive energy back to you.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Being a child actor I have gone through all the different phases of headshot photography. Black and White, the child “comp card” with the different commercial characters, with props might I add lol, to color pics with cheesy marble backgrounds to the lifestyle backdrops and backgrounds you see today. When I work with my clients I bring a vocabulary that they can understand so that my lenz captures what we set out for the pictures to accomplish.
My first audition was for the movie Ghost Dads in which I read for Sidney Poitier (Didn’t even know what a big deal that was) and I got several call backs. Even though I didn’t book it that is ok, as I tell me students I booked the room and they wanted me back over and over again. After that point they are trying to mix and match cast to look like family and all other types of scenarios that are no longer in your control. I booked my first union project when I was 10 years old which was a film for Hanna Barbera called Rappin N Rhymin. As a kid actor the auditions are never ending during that time I was booking commercials for brands like Rice Crispies, Squeeze It drinks, Push Pops and more. My first feature film was as Chris Rocks little sister in his cult classic, for the culture, film CB4. Funny story my mom was on set with me and of course all my scenes where family nice funny wholesome. So she invites all the deacons and deaconesses and church members, we get to the premiere and she is like oooooohhh mmmmmyyy goooodddnesss I have to uninvite them all lol. Fast forward to 12 and I book the biggest film in my career as far as I am concerned. I was the voice of Young Nala in Disneys 32nd animated feature film The Lion King. When I first auditioned it was called the King Of The Jungle. A year later I received a call back for a film called The Lion King. That is to say to my clients just do the work have fun and forget about it, on to the next. Don’t dwell in it seemed losses and don’t gloat in the success. Luckily I didn’t have a “stage mom” and when I wanted to do high school dance shows and musicals and choir competitions and then go to college and live in a dorm on campus, she didn’t push the industry on me. I had given up a lot of normal things in my childhood and I wanted to experience all these things and I got to. A BA degree, a Masters of Fine Arts degree; an acting career that has placed me on HBO,Lifetime,Disney,NBC,CBS; garned me a Hollywood reporter young star award nomination, young star award win, ovation award win, la weekly award win, NAACP theater award nomination for lead actress, a husband and a little one year old baby girl later I am so content with my life and my up brining and I get to share all that knowledge. Of course there were hardships along the way, like being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aka juvenile diabetes and the biggest blow to date loosing my mother in 2018. Through it all as you grow you grow your tribe, your village shed the dead weight and keep the real ones. In this biz, I tell my clients all the time especially my parents with child actors, they are in a world of yes men, making grown money, making grown choices at times, sometimes making more than the whole household put together but you need to keep a form of normalcy , consequences and rules and element of fun around to keep them humble, grounded and kind human beings.
Working with kids and their parents is a passion of mine because that is where I started. I know that world of a parent trying to navigate the business and deal with this adult life that children are put in. I love that I can work with talent and their acting and career goals with my In Motion career coaching business. With NiketaCH Photography I can make sure they have their “calling card” with a great headshot and resume, to use on the online platforms and in some instances still “on hand”.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My grandparents moved to Los Angeles in the 30s and was one of the first black families to buy a house in the all white neighborhood, at the time, near king and broadway. So being an LA native I would take a visitor to all the neighborhood spots, prob not a bunch of yelp suggestions, but with that being said def some popular landmarks.
Monday – LaBrea Tar Pits and or LACMA grab food at The Old Farmers Market with some shopping after at The Grove
Tuesday – “Hollywood and Highland” take pics on the “walk of fame” and “Manns Chinese theater and “El Capitan” , “Wax
Museum” grab some food at “Kitchen 24” maybe dinner at “Yamashiros” or Poets Lounge that night on fairfax and
grab a cornbeef sandwich at “Canters”
Wednesday – Beverly Hills shops on “Rodeo Drive” and walking and shopping on “Melrose” dinner at “Crustaceans”
Thursday – “California African American Museum” and “Space Museum” take pics at”Rose Garden” grab food at “Harold and
Friday – Griiffith Observatory then head down to “The Serving Spoon” in Inglewood
Sat – Go to the beach in “Belmont Shore”, Long Beach. and then grab some lunch on the patio at “Belmont Brewing
Sun – Church and “Roscoes” check out the “Watts Towers”
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Without a doubt I give credit to my mother. Once I demonstrated a love for entertainment she dedicated her life to making sure my talent was nurtured and that I was put in the right environments to accomplish my dreams. From running me around to auditions, dance classes, competitions, buying me cameras, recording me performing and making up skits on her vhs lol she was my support and my number one fan. I lost my mother September 21, 2018 at 3:31am. My life will never be the same but I am so blessed to have had her for 38 years and she got to see many fruits of her labor. I was able to thank her many times over for the love and support she poured into my life.
Instagram: @niketachphotography , @niketacalame
NiketaCH Photography IVEVER Films