Alice Kremelberg is an actor born in New York. She is recurring as ‘Nicole Eckelcamp’ on the new season of ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK now showing on Netflix. Alice found her love for the stage early, dancing alongside The New York City Ballet. On stage, she originated the role of ‘Reba’ in Ruby Rae Spiegel’s breakout play DRY LAND (Colt Coeur, NYSAF, HERE). Inspired by many forms of art and connection, she continues to let her curiosity drive her.
1. For the people who might not know you, who are you and what do you do?
My name is Alice Kremelberg and I am an actor from New York, among other things! You can currently catch me playing Nicole Eckelcamp, a slightly unhinged character on the current season of OITNB. I have also had the honor of taking on directing, writing and producing a few pieces which have been an incredibly enlightening experience.
2. When did you know you wanted to become an actress?
There were many signs from a young age that I loved performing, but I would say there was a moment that it was clear to me. When I was a tiny one, I saw “The Nutcracker” with my mom and was blown away by the whole thing. It was like stepping into a fever dream. I knew I wanted to be on that stage and begged her to take classes wherever these girls studied. I was able to then have the privilege of studying ballet under Mr.Frank Ohman at ‘The Ohman School of Ballet’. Every year we performed “The Nutcracker”, and years down the line I was able to play Clara. It was really when I was on stage as Clara that it all came together for me. I felt the magic of what it can be like to be completely captivated by telling a story. I have to say, there was also unbridled support from my teachers, and that nudge really helped the next steps. Soon after, I sought out more rigorous acting classes, that my mom definitely had a hand in helping me track down. My love for acting really took off from there. It is where I feel most at home.
3. How did you react when you got the role of Nicole on “Orange Is The New Black”?
I was in my apartment in Brooklyn when I got the call. My whole team was on the phone, which is usually a good sign. They told me they would love to have me play Nicole and I was elated. I was so excited for countless reasons, but mainly because I have been a fan of the show and Jenji’s work for some time now. I love what the show has done in terms of representation, for the LGBTQIA community, for womxn and for continuously having the current political climate as part of the conversation. I am also an insanely huge fan of Jen Euston and SJ Allocco (who cast me as Nicole) and the work that they do. I can’t say enough how much I love going in for them and the safe space they create. So, I was incredibly excited and then shortly thereafter had that little knot in my stomach saying, okay let’s get to work. In short, it was like “YES!” and then “FUCK”.
4. Did you have a specific way in which you got ready for the role?
For this role, I made sure to read and watch a lot of documentaries about people who are incarcerated. I read Piper Kerman’s book in the days leading up to shooting as well. For Nicole, I made choices based on what I got from the scenes and breakdown and went from there. I expanded on her history and how she ended up in prison. She seems to have some heightened, more emotional responses and runs a lot on fear…so those choices guided me. I also do some breathing and physical warming up. Music is a huge part of clicking in for me. If I’m able to, I’ll take time and sit in the cells and let my mind wander.
5. What did you learn about the industry that you can share with aspiring actors, writers, producers, directors?
Great question. There’s so much and I am still very much learning. I think the biggest thing for me is finding your support system. Build your chosen family, those who are there for you for all the highs and lows and you for them. I think self-awareness is key. Find out what kind of stories you want and need to tell. Don’t wait for anything to just appear. Get really clear on what that is, and you will attract like-minded people to help you build that thing. It’s easy to feel totally lost and like you’re losing your mind in this industry, in this world. The most helpful thing for me is learning how and what I need to take care of myself so I can show up. There are a lot of structures in place that can feel insurmountable. Things are slowly changing. My hope is that the visionaries will continue to break these structures down, tell their stories and illuminate through filmmaking. Whatever it takes to continue to nourish empathy and understanding, to connect us; that is what I hope for.
6. What is the scariest part of an audition?
Honestly, when I am completely in love with the character or the story. The stakes are higher and it can complicate things. Also, I am among many who walk through bouts of depression and anxiety. It can be frustrating when something more chemical feels like a roadblock. Still finding ways of moving through that. A lot is out of our control, but when I can just focus on the work, I feel safe-it’s all the rest of the noise that can get in the way.
7. What show could you do for years?
A show that allows the characters to constantly evolve. I love playing somewhat broken characters. I don’t know anyone who isn’t in their own way, fractured. I want to speak to how complicated people are, emotions and motives and the subconscious current. It’s all so fascinating to me. Also, more obviously maybe…a show that I believe in. Where I believe in the people creating the show and the story we are telling. I think it is incredibly important to put care into and have awareness around the content we are putting out there. A piece where I believe the story is helping shift the consciousness of our community for the better.
8. What would your dream role be?
I have so many answers. I believe they are all being written, and I will write some of them myself. Being able to play a role is a dream in and of itself. I also was able to see “People Places and Things” at St. Ann’s Warehouse, and I would absolutely love to play Emma down the line. I would also love to play Elizabeth in Lucy Thurber’s “Killers and Other Family”.
9. What has been your biggest accomplishment so far?
So far, I would say that I learned to ask for help when I needed it most. There had been times where I was really lost. It took me some time, but eventually, I was able to find the support I needed.
10. If you could choose, what three actors would you really want to work with?
Oh so many…Viola Davis, Marin Ireland and Denise Gough to name a few.
11. What are some of your favorite movies or series?
This is a question that stops me, it’s always changing and I know I’m missing some favorites but the ones coming to me now are…**A Woman Under the Influence,*Brit Marling- Another Earth,*Safdie brothers – Heaven Knows What, Moonlight, Winter’s Bone, Blue Valentine, Panic in needle park, Gia. Some of my childhood favorites also include Girl Interrupted, Goonies, Sandlot, A little princess and Titanic. I honestly watch a lot of stand up and documentaries.
12. What are some causes that are dear to your heart and hope to bring awareness to?
Well, there are so many I could go on forever. How much time do we have? We still have so far to go. Basic human rights. Equality. Womxn’s rights. Putting an end to rape culture and harassment. Increased sexual assault awareness and teaching our youth about consent early. Education and support for the disease of addiction and eating disorders. Supporting our LGBTQIA communities and marginalized communities to have equal opportunities and resources. Black Lives Matter, let’s please stop killing innocent people…innocent children. I can and will go on and on, we have a lot of work to do.
13. Do you have something to say to the people who support you?
Thank you. Truly, it is a freaking gift to be able to do this and I am beyond grateful for any and all support. My sister has seen me through all the ups and downs and I don’t know where I be without her. Without my Mom, I never would’ve been able to start when I did, she really went out of her way to help support this dream of mine. I learn so much from my friends, what true love and support look like. I feel very lucky to have a family made up of all my favorite humans in my life. Also, a real shout out to the OITNB fans- their support is amazing and I am honored to be a part of the family.
Thank you so much to Alice for the interview. You can find her on: