Local actor Nicole G. Leier recently wrapped short film Black Chicks, directed by filmmaker/playwright Neil LaBute, and is already back in Vancouver this week working on upcoming projects with her production company Black Tree Pictures.
Nicole has an extensive resume but is known for her engaging rolls in The Bridge and Edgemont, and in Black Chicks she works side-by-side with David Cubitt known for Medium and just completed shooting in Vancouver – Van Helsing: Resurrection is a Bitch.
With Black Chicks, the title of the film gives nothing away to what unfolds. A seemingly innocent conversation between two coworkers turns into a racially charged back and forth. Leier unveils an important story, addressing huge issues in an understated yet emotional way. Racial stereotypes are questioned and brought to light. Leier also manages to portray the inequality of women to men, and the objectification of women in general.
Having David Cubitt as the co-star was a dream for Nicole. “He is so generous and an all around cool guy. The fact that he took the time to work on this script while still shooting Van Helsing showed how giving he is of his time. I was so humbled that he wanted to be part of this with me.”
For Nicole, the story was interesting as she was raised in a Caucasian household. It forced her to look at some of the uncomfortable situations she has faced in her life and to accept it, even embrace it.
Nicole credits Matthew Scott Snyder for working with her relentlessly to “take all of the acting out of my role. He encouraged me to believe that I was simply enough and I could not have done this role without him and the studio crew.”
On Meeting Neil LaBute
Neil LaBute, lauded for Nurse Betty, In the Company of Men, The Wicker Man, as well as directing many episodes of AMC’s Hell on Wheels, wrote, directed and co-produced the film. Neil is known for his true-to-life characters and his ability to write the ugly sides of human nature. In this piece, Leier’s role is written as polite and obliging, but with deep layers and strength she discovers as the story unfolds and Neil manages to inject into Cubitt’s character a deeply rooted racial bias he doesn’t even realize he has.
Nicole originally performed Neil’s play Black Girls at James Franco’s Studio 4 in Los Angeles with an actor and friend, Peter Hodge. After performing the play she knew it would make an excellent film and got in contact with Neil who was excited and eager to adapt it for the screen, renaming it Black Chicks.
Says Leier, “I’m so thankful to have worked with Neil. He is one of the most laid back directors I have ever worked with. He is truly and actor’s director. He knows what it takes for an actor to become one of his characters.”
Brendan Uegama (Van Helsing, The Romeo Section) was the Director of Photography on Black Chicks. Leier and Uegama have worked together on many projects and the film was produced by their production company Black Tree Pictures.
Woman on the Go!
Living with her partner between Vancouver and Los Angeles, provides an oasis of opportunity for Nicole and their company and, in fact her next two Black Tree Pictures will be shot in this west coast city.
In five years, this dynamic woman “hopes to be working with like minded people. People that are driven and going down similar paths as myself. I have hopes be an internationally renowned actor, writer, filmmaker and creator. That said, I want to be passionately sharing with the world the best of everything through films that make the world a better place and helping as many people as I can.”
Black Chicks will be entering the festival circuit with a release in the early fall.
All photographs courtesy of Black Tree Pictures.