We had the good fortune of connecting with Shelly Nagell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Shelly, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
I always wanted to be an actor. I grew up playing make believe and my passion never stopped. I love that acting embodies, integrates, and emerges all the senses. I feel like I have a paint brush and I get to paint my feelings, thoughts, and memories into another human. I love observing humanity and love looking at people’s quirks, eccentricities, imbalances, insanities, vulnerabilities, fears, desires, and making them into a character. I love comedy the most because it really gets to show people as imperfect and embraces imperfection .
Choosing acting as a profession is very hard. I moved out to Los Angeles much later in life to pursue acting on a professional level and it has its challenges. But I love the roles they are creating for women of all ages. I feel like 10 years ago, they didn’t have as many rich, dynamic, and dimensional roles for women as they do today. I feel excited that there is a strong push to represent voices from all different backgrounds and identities. Audiences are resonating with these characters and stories because it ‘s reflecting and mirroring real life. Film and Television are mediums that need to represent everyone.
After moving to Los Angeles, I fell in love with the process of acting and not just the outcome. I love getting a script for an audition and breaking it down. I love doing a character’s background work and it helps ground who my character is. I love creating the attire, movement, and mannerisms of the character. I have a section in my closet with clothes ready for auditions hung, ironed, and ready to go! I also love to play music that matches the vibe of the character before I audition to set the tone. I also have really enjoyed filming auditions in my home which was vital during the pandemic. I look at auditions as an opportunity to practice, grow, and have fun!
Acting makes me feel the most alive and connected to the universe. Working on a set is so magical and I love the people I have met along the way. Sharing someone’s story is a privilege so respecting the craft and art of storytelling is a must for me.
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.
I feel really passionate about Human Rights. I volunteered with an organization called Openmind Projects in Thailand and taught English in a small Muslim village in the southern part of Thailand. It was such a great experience being exposed to a completely different culture and the community was so warm and kind. The kids were so grateful and when I wasn’t teaching class, we would do art projects and make up skits in the village. They would show me around the village and teach me about their life there.
When I lived in New Jersey, I ran a workshop at a homeless shelter on Inspiration. I would be the speaker or bring in guest speakers. I would bring in people who had been homeless or had extreme hardships and they would talk about how they found inspiration through those trying times. The guests at the shelter would engage with the guest speakers and have the opportunity to share their stories. It was a safe space for us all to be humans without judgment to share how we felt and to relate to each other.
I worked in education for years and saw the disparity gap between communities. Nothing about it was fair or ever set up to be fair. I will always fight for a fair education for all kids.
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?
I love hiking at the Burbank Nature Center! It’s beautiful, not crowded, quiet, and feels like a magnetic oasis that I’m drawn to over and over again! I also love taking walks on Venice Beach! I go there to remind myself I live this close to the ocean. I forget that sometimes.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My parents have always been supportive of me having an acting career and never discouraged me. I feel lucky they never projected their dreams and hopes onto me. They gave me a lot of freedom to direct my own course in life.
I also feel very blessed to have such a hardworking and dedicated Manager: Kate Flook of Tinoco Management. She dedicates the time to foster her clients. She helps highlight our strengths and also gives us tools in areas where we need to grow. Working with her has been a life changing experience for me.
I feel really fortunate that I have such loyal, supportive, and inspiring friends who are always rooting for me and have continued to stand by my side through all the ups and downs in this business and in life! Just to name a few: Kristina Kusick, Vanessa Miles, Kirsten Gregerson, Abbie Virasi, Danielle Long Crow, Serena Howe, Jaime Lemon, Emily Cochran, Mona Shelton, Patricia Virasi, Dan B, Jasmine – Rest In Peace Queen, and Katie Evans – Rest In Peace Goddess!!
A big shout out to my lovely sister, Niki Nagell, who reads for my Zoom auditions. I’m so grateful for all of your help!!