Let’s play a game. Think of three iconic teen movies from the late 90’s/ early 00’s. Got ‘em? I’d be willing to bet actress Nicole Bilderback was in one of these movies, maybe even all three. Nikki made her film debut in Clueless and went on to star in Can’t Hardly Wait and Bring it On. During our chat we talked all things 90’s teen movies, growing up as Texas girls, and that one time she was part of an international scandal. (FULL EPISODE BELOW)
Clueless (1995)Nikki grew up in Dallas, but moved to LA right after graduation. Within a year, she was in the audition room for Clueless. Nikki got the role of Summer, but people don’t usually remember her character by name.
“I’m the suck and blow girl. I’m known to suck and blow. That’s lovely. But it brought me a lot of success. I’m not going to complain.”
Along with the rest of the cast, Nikki had no idea how successful the movie would become. Nikki continues to meet fans of all ages and recently did a Clueless screening event for 100,000 people.
“Clueless was really the first hugely successful teen genre film in the 90’s. In the 80’s we had Pretty in Pink, The Breakfast Club and stuff like that. Then they went away. Clueless was the first of many, but it really started it all.”
Nikki says the cast of Clueless was very close. She shared a trailer with Elisa Donovan (Amber) and became dear friends with Brittany Murphy (Tai). Also, she has no idea how Paul Rudd (Josh) looks exactly the same 22 years later.
“ [Brittany] was quirky and spunky. Just all love, such a big heart. Paul Rudd is a vampire. He hasn’t aged, and it’s pissing me off.”
Can’t Hardly Wait (1998)
Can’t Hardly Wait is a teen movie about the ultimate graduation party. In fact, it was originally called ‘The Party’.
Nicole has one of my favorite scenes. She’s crying on the couch because she thinks her boyfriend cheated on her. Seth Green (Kenny) tells her she’s far too fine to be crying and tries to sleep with her in the pool house.
“Seth is genius in that role. He’s absolutely hysterical. I’m credited as the ‘Crying Ready to Have Sex Girl’. Mom and Dad are so proud. There’s only six leads in the film. If you look at the rest of the cast, none of us have real names.”
Bring It On (2000)
I couldn’t let Nicole go without discussing Bring it On and her role as Wa-Wa-Wa-Whitney.
“Whitney is such a bitch right? To be honest I tend to get cast in a lot of bitch roles, but I love it. You want to hire me to be a bitch, I’m your bitch.”
Being a Texas girl, Nikki was more than familiar with cheerleading. Still, a lot of working went into learning the stunts and routines for the movie. There were no stunt doubles.
“Training was crazy. We had about four weeks of cheerleader bootcamp. It was eight hours a day, Monday through Friday.”
As my high school’s former mascot, I called Nicole out about one of the big scenes in the movie not making any sense in cheerleader world. (You’ll have to listen the episode to find out!)
“See, you’re one of those smart people. You’re absolutely right!”
Nicole Bilderback thinks I’m smart.
Nicole’s International Scandal
“I wake up one morning and I had an email from my manager asking if I was suing IMDB. I was like, WTF?”
It turns out that an Asian American actress from Texas was suing IMDB (owned by Amazon) for posting her real age on their website. Actors had being trying to change this for years, because it allows casting agents to discriminate against your age. Everyone just assumed it was Nicole.
“It was on all over the internet and all over the news – ABC, NBC, international news! I was scared at first, I didn’t want it to affect my career. I was getting a lot of hate mail, but I also had producers and casting agents calling like, ‘Good for Nicole!” But It wasn’t me.”
Nicole decided to “make lemonade out of lemons” and make a video about the situation for Funny or Die.
Nicole’s Life After Teen Movies
Nicole has stayed busy with countless roles on different television shows. I asked her if she had any advice for aspiring artists, and homegirl took it to church.
“My major advice would be no matter if you’re an actor or musician or whatever kind of artist. Remember that you are always more than that. It’s ok to pursue other ventures that cannot only be a money supplement, but something you’re passionate about. Don’t make one thing your whole life.
Live full. Pursue your dream. Never give up. Show up for it. But realize that you’re so much more than this one thing and don’t define yourself off of it. And even if you do have another side job it doesn’t mean that you’re any less of an artist, you’re just taking care of yourself. Have success in all areas of your life and you’ll realize that success in your career will come easier.”
Hallelujah and amen. A very special thank you to Nicole Bilderback for traveling down memory lane with us. If you’d like to hear her full podcast, you can find it below.