Previous incarnations of this very About page have taken themselves FAR too seriously.
Let's just do a good ol' FAQ. Here goes:
1. What's your deal?
Wow. Okay. Hi. I'm Nikka. I sing and dance and act and make podcasts and like jokes.
2. Where are you from?
I was born and bred in Los Angeles, California - but spent the bulk of my childhood devising ways to move to New York City and become a Broadway performer, so....
3. How do you pronounce your name?
That video right there will explain it. In case you don't have time to watch a parody video of me doing "Liza with a Z" with my own name, here's another handy explanation.
I'll explain: most of us have two knees, right? Think of knees, and you'll get it right.
(KNEE)-ka. Graff (fun fact: middle name!). Lanzaro-(KNEE).
I once tried to talk to my parents about this, and they replied:
"We knew it was going to be a pain in the ass for you. We're only sort of sorry."
thanks, guys. thanks a lot.
4. Graff. That seems like...wait a minute. Isn't the rest of your family, like, also theatrical?
Yup! I'm a third generation performing-type person. My parents met doing the original Broadway production of Grease together. She was the first replacement for Sandy, and he was conducting/playing/MDing. It's adorable. Ilene Graff is my mom. Ben Lanzarone is my dad.
5. Oh, I get it. Graff like THOSE Graffs. Wait, so Randy Graff...?
A brilliant Tony-Award winning actress and singer. Also my cousin. Mom's first cousin, to be exact.
6. And Todd Graff...?
Tony nominee, screenwriter, director, actor, uncle. Mom's baby brother.
7. And Laurie...?
Internationally acclaimed author. Also cousin. Not a sibling of Randy's. Both Randy and Laurie each have their own siblings, who are charming and delightful in their own right.
8. Oh. Okay, cool.
Yeah, I think so. It's nice to not have to explain the fundamental thing that makes you who you are, because your family already understands. None of them could tell me I couldn't make a living doing what I loved, either, and that's really nice too. Plus sometimes we get to do silly concerts together, and that makes me the happiest of all.
9. You went to Stagedoor, didn't you. I've heard about you Stagedoor Manor types.
10. What stuff have you done?
I've gotten to do some cool stuff - Broadway, Off-Broadway, some Vegas showgirling, lots of fun developmental work, great things at amazing regional theatres around the country, some TV/film/print stuff - head on over to that resume page or that gallery page for more specifics.
11. What stuff do you like doing?
Wellll, I like telling stories. And jokes. And singing and dancing. And hanging out with my awesome husband Dan and super-cool cat, Chairman Meow.
But seriously - I like wrestling with the big questions about being an artist. I like to advocate - as an Equity councillor, sitting on the board of the Actors' Equity Foundation, as an associate artist with B-Side Theatricals, and encouraging people to follow the sage wisdom of Bill&Ted: to be excellent to each other. And I like podcasting.
12. Podcasting? What's a podcast? What's YOUR podcast?
Oh, I'm so glad you asked! Yes, I do! I co-created and co-host the Broadway-focused podcast The Ensemblist with the wonderful and talented Mo Brady. We break down every aspect of what it's like to be an ensemblist (a member of the chorus) on Broadway. We're hoping to change the conversation about what it means to be a working artist in America today, and acknowledge the fact that being a whole human makes you a better artist. We're also really funny. You can find us on iTunes, or wherever you get your podcasts.
Where are the adorable childhood pictures that frequent most About pages?
I thought you'd never ask.