Nicole Pacent plays the gorgeous and conflicted Aster on the Indie Soap Award Nominee ANYONE BUT ME. Please enjoy Part One of our interview where we discuss her character’s struggles, as well as the benefits of acting on a web series.
We Love Soaps: Hi Nicole, it’s so nice to meet you! Congratulations on your nomination for Best Supporting Actress in the 1st Annual Indie Soap Awards for your role of Aster in ANYONE BUT ME.
Nicole Pacent: Thank you! It’s awesome, it’s been the most amazing way to kick of 2010.
We Love Soaps: Now I’m not typically one who enjoys teen dramas. But I have to say, in the first five minutes of the first episode of ANYONE BUT ME I was hooked. I had to see what happened next. It’s not a teen drama, it’s a human drama.
Nicole Pacent: Absolutely. I think from square one it’s so real. When you think of teen drama you think of GOSSIP GIRL, there are a lot of things that are clearly not real about all of that. It’s hard to relate to in a lot of ways. From the way it’s shot to the way it’s written, it’s very much slice of life.
We Love Soaps: I don’t think I’ve seen anything this realistic since MY SO-CALLED LIFE.
Nicole Pacent: And we get compared to that. That’s great! Who didn’t love that show? It was so different and unique, to be compared to it is fantastic.
We Love Soaps: Give us some reasons why someone who hasn’t seen ANYONE BUT ME would want to check it out.
Nicole Pacent: I feel like it’s a very unique storyline. The lead character Vivian, who is played by Rachael Hip-Flores, is sixteen, and her father was a first-responder firefighter in 9/11. He has incurred health problems because of that. She grew up in [New York] City and now they have to move to Westchester to be with family because he can’t live alone and take care of her anymore with his health problems. Her mother is out of the picture. So she gets up and moved from this metropolitan, liberal, accepting, everything New York is, to the suburbs. And it’s a huge shock for her, and she has no idea how to adjust to it. She’s gay, and moving from a liberal environment to a small-town where people talk, it’s difficult to be who you are. We’ve all dealt with isolation, fear of judgment.
My character is Vivian’s girlfriend Aster, who is still a Manhattanite. She is really opinionated, out there, and a rougher character. She’s a lot of fun, they balance each other well. Vivian is more intellectual, look-before-you-leap type. Aster is more impulsive and has a lot of trouble dealing with Vivian not being able to come out and be who she is in this new community.
We Love Soaps: Will we ever meet Aster’s parents?
Nicole Pacent: That’s something I have talked to the producers, directors, writers about. There’s definitely a parental element that comes into it in a way I won’t give away. But we start seeing more of her family situation. It’s a little rough. She’s a kid who has a lot of money thrown at her, but not a lot of attention. You can see her act out against it.
We Love Soaps: In the first season, we see a lot of Aster’s home, but her parents are noticeably absent. There’s even an episode where she is looking forward to and dreading her parents taking her and Vivian out for dinner, then they just don’t show up.
Nicole Pacent: Her mother had some work thing. It’s made Aster this toughened person. She doesn’t like being vulnerable. But at the same time is extremely loving, tender, and affectionate toward Vivian. She clearly needs that love and connectedness. But when it comes to being truly vulnerable she shuts down. She’s been hurt too many times by people who love her.
We Love Soaps: Vivian’s discomfort being openly gay in the suburbs is a real point of contention for Aster.
Nicole Pacent: Hugely! It’s so hard, how do you go from one dynamic to another where you feel like they're hiding you? I don’t know if anyone out there has felt like someone is ashamed of them or hiding them. But feeling like someone you’re dating is ashamed of you or somehow trying to put the relationship on the D.L. can be very painful. That is absolutely what Aster is going through. Especially with her family, where she is constantly put to the side. And now Vivian, who has never done that to her, is doing that to her, it’s like, “You’re the person who is supposed to be there for me all the time and now you’re physically not there or emotionally there. Where does that leave me?” Aster also has a strong value system, to be who you are and screw everyone else. When Vivian steps out of that, she can’t relate. She’s not sensitive towards that.
We Love Soaps: My first reaction to Aster was, “Whoa, why is she freaking out?” But then I realized how she’s not visible in her own family and pushed to the side. So she has a strong reaction in her own relationship when she feels like Vivian is trying to make her invisible and push her to the side.
Nicole Pacent: She’s an attention seeker in a big way. Not in a negative way. But she needs it. To be able to get your attention quota, and then not to get it, makes her act erratically.
We Love Soaps: Aster is also a bit of a party girl.
Nicole Pacent: I’m hoping we see more of that. I want to see more.
We Love Soaps: It seems consistent with the character who has had so much privilege financially, yet not a lot of abundance emotionally. This is one of the many things that impresses me about ANYONE BUT ME as a viewer . There are no good people, no bad people. No saints or sinners here. These are complex people trying to figure out their lives and relate to each other the best way they know how, and getting in their own way. Aster has all these different needs which are often in conflict with each other.
Nicole Pacent: Absolutely! Each character is going through their own thing. They are trying to hard to connect. Their need to connect often frustrates them and makes them act in ways that are completely counter to trying to get what they really want. But we all do that.
We Love Soaps: What can you tell us about what’s coming up for Season Two?
Nicole Pacent: They don’t give us scripts until a couple of weeks before we shoot, at most. So we’re really kept in the doctor. Tina and Susan really try to keep things very quiet. And that’s good, it’s a surprise to us. I can tell you we have a guest star coming on. This person is awesome, I love working with this person, and had a great time. This person was on a sit-com for quite awhile and they’ll be recognizable. And that person is directly related to Aster, it’s about their relationship.
We Love Soaps: I’m interested in learning some more about technical aspects. Some people shoot web soaps like a movie all at once and then edit it into different episodes. How is ANYONE BUT ME filmed?
Nicole Pacent: We do two to three episodes at a time. We did three episodes in three days in November, which is part of why the second and third are shorter than normal, which we got a lot of complaints about. Which actually is a good thing! I just shot this past Friday and Saturday snippets of a couple of episodes, that’s different from how we usually do it. But because this guest star was only in town for a little bit we had to do whatever we could get in.
We Love Soaps: Do you shoot them in order?
Nicole Pacent: We don’t shoot them in order. We shoot all over the place. It’s funny to see them done at the end. We’re so out of order I almost forget how they’ll look until I see them. It’s fun to watch.
We Love Soaps: Let’s talk about the perils of actually shooting in New York City.
Nicole Pacent: It’s loud! And the weather is all over the place. The hardest shoots for me have been the dead of winter shoots when we’re outside and we have to pretend it’s September. It’s so frigid. You have to compete with everything, basically. But there’s a lot of life around here. It gives you a lot of energy, it’s like living in New York.
We Love Soaps: And it is reality based. A lot of show that take place in New York don’t really film here, and don’t show the gritty reality of the city.
Nicole Pacent: When we first started shooting we were doing some guerilla shoots. You have to apply for permits to shoot, it’s expensive. So we’d be in Battery Park and then throw a coat over the camera. It was ridiculous.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Visit AnyoneButMeSeries.com to watch the show. Then come back for Part Two to learn more about Nicole’s approach to love scene with her co-star, and her take on labels pertaining to sexual orientation.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Marriage Family Therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve". He is re-imagining a world without "shoulds" at www.shouldless.com.