Nicki Micheaux talks Good Trouble role, police brutality, navigating social media and more


Nicki Micheaux talks about her role on Good Trouble, police brutality in today’s society, and raising children in the age of social media.

Nicki Micheaux is most known for her role in ABC Family’s Lincoln Heights as Jenn Sutton. She’s now focusing her efforts on portraying the role of Sandra Thompson on Freeform’s Good Trouble, and feels a responsibility to tell these emotional and challenging stories.

Micheaux plays the mother of a young man who was a victim of police brutality. Five years later, it’s now up to her to fight for the justice he deserves, but legal (and personal) obstacles seem to keep getting in the way.

What is it like to be part of a show that’s tackling such prevalent issues right now?

Initially, it was definitely challenging. It’s hard enough watching videos of police murdering regular people. That’s hard to take on as an actor, to channel these emotions, so it was challenging and emotional material. Especially when Sandra first shows up, it’s a lot of recounting what happened. So you’re walking [into] the thick of it. It’s not just playing an ordinary “Oh, I’m going to cry in this scene.” There are people dying. So yeah, it was a challenge.

I think when Ferguson happened and when a lot of them were first coming to light in 2016, they were telling everyone to stop watching the videos because you can really do some damage to yourself watching it over and over and over again. So, for me, it was about jumping in and jumping out so that I could maintain my own health and well-being, while still having something left to give the next day.

With Jamal’s trial, it was hard because not a lot of shows will take you through what it’s like for the family. It takes years. Years. So by the time we get to where Sandra is, she’s been dealing with this for five years. And we’re still not wrapping it up quickly. We’re still going through the murky water of it all.

It’s absolutely wonderful, but that’s what makes it challenging. The writers are so great at cutting to the raw and emotional core of the story. And as actors, we want to give that, so when you’re walking in that kind of truth, it hurts a little bit. But it’s so beautiful. It’s so beautiful to be saying these words and telling these stories.

Some of the things we talk about in future episodes, I would never talk about! It’s so exciting! I think there’s only been one other show that’s really touched on some stuff we’re going to dive into. I just love it. Some of the stuff is kind of taboo to talk about, and it’s wonderful because that’s part of our problem. We don’t talk about these things as a culture, and it’s wonderful to put everyone around the campfire and say, “let’s talk about it.”

I love that you mentioned how Good Trouble is talking about so many things that so many other TV shows just kind of brush over. It’s so important in today’s culture.

Yeah, and it’s done so well! I think it’s really the talent of the writers and just the magic of when all the pieces line up together. It’s just really beautiful.

I assume this role had to have been emotional for you to play.

Definitely challenging. Anytime we’re talking about the death of a child due to the inequality in our system, it’s hard. Definitely hard.

Besides the storyline that you’re specifically involved with, are there any other storylines on the show that you just really love?

I really like the entire jump-off point! These two young women coming to a new city to find themselves, start their lives, and take over the world. I just love the concept of that because I think it’s such an interesting time when you start that journey.

And I love some of the stuff I get to do with Zuri Adele, who plays Malika, down the road. It’s wonderful to see what’s going on with her family and then the kind of relationship that we develop.

And I love Mariana at work, and all the stuff that she deals with. One of my favorite things in the pilot was when she comes in all dolled up on her first day, and then kind of has to change her looks to be viewed as smart. It’s just like, “this is the world we live in,” and really pointing it out.

Honestly, there’s not a storyline that I don’t like on Good Trouble.

I totally agree with that! Going back to what you said about Malika — you two have this killer chemistry on screen and I’m wondering if the two characters have some background that we don’t know about yet. Or did they really just meet while protesting?

No, that’s it! We met while protesting! I think what the show captures is Malika being an activist and really caring about these issues and then going through it all. We have a like-mind. You know, you’re on this journey and you’re like-minded and you can say, “I see you.” And then they see you back, and there’s this weird connection. It’s wonderful, and Zuri really is a beautiful actress so she made it easy to just jump in and go.

You mentioned on AfterBuzz that you watch this show with your daughter. Is this all stuff that she’s been exposed to before?

You know, you’d be surprised. Let me clarify some things. Most kids have cell phones, and they get them when they’re in elementary school now. So I discovered very early what she’s already seen.

Good Trouble, to me, is a show that puts these issues in a responsible format. It shows that there are actions and there are consequences. And you know, all of this is out there and it’s in the world so I would love to be able to be right there next to her if she has a question about it. So we can discuss it as opposed to her and her friends catching three-minute snippets of something during lunch.

I wanted her to watch the show because I knew everything that it was going to cover. And I knew that the show was going to go way farther than I ever would.

It’s really hard to raise kids in the Internet age…

How was it to go from your role in Lincoln Heights where you play the cop’s wife to this role in Good Trouble where you’re playing the victim’s mother of a cop’s crime?

Lincoln Heights was a lifetime ago! Lincoln Heights was pretty much me. I just showed up to work and was myself. It wasn’t hard to be the mom from the suburbs, trying to raise your kids and loving your husband. So that wasn’t too challenging.

Everybody on the cast, we had a weird sort of chemistry. We all just got along so well so it just worked. It really really did. So the challenges of Good Trouble were really just jumping into this whole murder plotline. But more so because it’s a reality for us right now — that they’re not answering, it’s not solved, it’s the matter of when is the next one, not if.

So in that sense, it’s not as much about the character, it’s about the world.

You mentioned you were so close with the Lincoln Heights cast. Has it been difficult coming into the cast of a show that’s had established characters already for the last five years on The Fosters?

No, no, no — you know, I was never starting off with the main cast. I’m still slowly getting to know Malika, so it kind of fit. I’m new to this character. I’m new to the world. So yeah, I’m definitely on the outside slowly coming in, like the awkwardness of the dinner party scene!

But no, it hasn’t been hard. It’s such a great and loving group of people and it’s just fun to be a part of it!

Do you have a favorite episode coming up or anything you can tease about any of the episodes?

Oh, yes! Episode 9. It’s really an amazing episode. Sandra has basically been a rock up to this point and hasn’t stopped fighting, but this is the episode she kind of cracks. I love it.

It’s really great seeing how Malika takes it too. We all have that strong black woman magic so it’s great to get into it.

Are we going to see Malika and Sandra’s relationship shift?

Well, we’ll have to see! That’s up to Malika. We’ll see what happens.

What has been your favorite part about playing this role?

My favorite part about this role has been exploring the different bonds between women. That’s definitely been my favorite part.

I love that. This show is so female dominated and all these relationships and friendships are building and being tested and that’s so important to showcase on TV right now.

It’s such a great time to be telling women’s stories, and also women of color’s stories, and not shying away from the things that make us unique and different and specific to our voice. It’s such a good time for that.

I started in the industry when none of that was happening. So to watch it all evolve to this place that it is now. We’re all coming out from behind the curtain and it’s one of my favorite things to talk about. I think it’s so healthy for women in general because there’s so much that we could be sharing with and learning from each other. We haven’t been able to do that. It’s exciting to me and sometimes it’s also shocking. I’m like, “We’re going to say this!? On TV!?” I remember on one read-through I asked, “Is this okay?”

I love how they’re just like, “Yeah, we’re gonna talk about and take the bull by the horns.” I love it!

When you’re on Twitter and social media, people are talking about these things and it’s always like, the worst of the worst. Twitter is really dark. So it’s nice to be offline while looking at this picture. Social media can be such a hostile environment.

Agreed! That’s, unfortunately, our culture right now though. I do love how so much of the story in Good Trouble is told through those platforms.

That’s how we live! Sandra and Malika were communicating through social media, that’s how we start our friendship. She was the one sending out all those tweets, and then we finally met.

Well, I’m definitely looking forward to seeing more of them on screen together! To wrap it up, can you mention any projects you have that are coming up?

Yes! My next show coming out premieres April 4 on The CW and it’s called In the Dark. I play a criminal drug lord. Now that, going from Sandra to drug lord was tricky. I was shooting these shows at the same time because they overlapped, so literally, the drug lord was a 180 of Sandra. So it was really crazy to switch hats like that because they’re so different!

That was definitely a fun challenge. It’s a different kind of show than Good Trouble. It’s a murder mystery thriller, and it was really great to be the bad guy. I guess I should say bad girl. I really encourage you to watch it!

Oh, I’ll absolutely be watching that. Finally, now that we know there’s a season 2 of Good Trouble (congrats by the way!), can you say if your character will still be around for that?

I sure hope to be! We haven’t started shooting it and I have no idea what they have planned, but I definitely hope so!

You can watch Good Trouble every Tuesday at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform.