What is your earliest memory?
I would have been two and I remember being in the Midwest watching my mum and her family put on Polynesian shows. Mum would hula-hoop and dance and my grandmother would sing. There were ten of them in my mum’s family and they all had a part to play.
What sort of child were you?
I was shy, awkward and lanky. I was the only brown girl in my school in Kentucky and I looked very different to everyone else, so I was picked on. My nickname was Cry Baby – I cried every day. People didn’t think I was at all pretty and I definitely wasn’t the cheerleading type. We had very little money back then. My mum had me when she was 17 and she brought me up on her own. My clothes came from the thrift shop and we would eat pancake mix and noodles throughout the year because they were the cheapest things to buy.
What is the worst thing anyone has ever said to you?
It wasn’t something that was said but something that was done. When I went to college to study theatre I was bullied and I had a really bad time. I tried so hard to make people like me. At the time I was being given a lot of lead roles, and during drama class rehearsals they usually had a moment when the class would applaud each individual player for their work and their role – except they would never clap me. The silence was deafening. It panicked me and meant I was terrified of every audience I played in front of. The whole experience took the joy out of me.
And your biggest disappointment?
Between 18 right up to my mid-30s I suffered from bulimia. It was all wrapped up with my low self-esteem and a crippling lack of confidence. It’s taken me a long time to deal with these issues and I feel so annoyed that I let that disease take over.
What is your worst character trait?
I’m always late. I miss the most important things. Just recently in LA I was due to meet with the Dalai Lama – we were going to sit down and have a one-to-one – I’d even found out that he gives you a special scarf when you meet. But I missed him. I got there to hear him speak and I saw him briefly afterwards in the hall but I didn’t make my audience with him. I was so mad at myself – but I will always be late.
Who would your dream dinner date be?
Well, if the Dalai Lama could forgive me it would be him. Him and Will Ferrell. We would all eat Mexican food and drink margaritas and laugh.
What are you scared of?
The Exorcist. When I was 14, all my cousins and I watched it, and while everyone else was sitting around laughing and joking, I was completely terrified. The thought of it still scares me. I haven’t watched a horror film since.
Describe the best night of your life
When I first started dating Lewis [Hamilton] I went to my firstever F1 race, the Monte Carlo Grand Prix. Lewis had an accident during the race and came back from it and he won. It was incredible. We spent the rest of the night dancing on a friend’s yacht on the ocean just across the bay from this fairy-tale city. I’ll never forget it.
What is your biggest regret?
The year before Michael Jackson died, Will.i.am called and asked me to come to his studio because Michael was there and he had said he wanted to meet. I was in the middle of rehearsals for the American Music Awards, which was happening the next day. I hadn’t got my vocal right and I’m such a perfectionist I couldn’t bear the idea of leaving till I’d got it nailed. I can’t believe I said this now but I told Will I couldn’t make it. I blew out Michael Jackson!
Who would you like to say sorry to?
The other members of the Pussycat Dolls. There were a lot of moments when I was with them that I was distant and stand-offish. I never opened up to them to talk about my problems and I would shut myself away – and push them away – because I was battling this horrible secret illness, bulimia.
What has been your most embarrassing moment?
I’ve had so many but the worst was when I was a teenager. I dived off a rock at the beach and my bikini top shot off right in front of a boy I liked. He swam over to me with it. I was mortified.
I can drink most guys under the table. I have Ukrainian blood and I can handle my drink. I’ve done some of my best shows with the worst hangovers.
When were you last really happy?
Starting my role in Cats. In the moment of singing ‘If you touch me, you’ll understand what happiness is’ during Memory I not only felt really happy, I felt at home and free singing on stage.
What or who do you dream about?
Before every big show I have nightmares about forgetting lyrics or not knowing the choreography and being shown up in front of millions of people.
The new album, ‘Big Fat Lie’, is out now. Purchase here for £13.99
Nicole is in ‘Cats’ until Feb 7
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