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Dreamgirls – An interview with Nicole Raquel Dennis

Nicole talked to us about what it’s like to take on such a huge role and how it feels to be stepping into the shoes of her coach on The Voice UK.

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We are living the dream with a three-part series interviewing the Dreamgirls. This week we chat with Nicole Raquel Dennis who is currently playing the iconic role of Effie White. Nicole talked to us about what it’s like to take on such a huge role and how it feels to be stepping into the shoes of her coach on The Voice UK.

What’s it like to be back on stage and playing in such a culturally significant production with Black women at its core?

There were so many moments of the pandemic, where we were like ‘are we going to go back or are we not?’ so there was a lot of push and pull. So for it to be happening finally, and with this show, is so important. But to be playing these characters that are just so strong and so powerful after this past year is like the most dreamy combination. And for ourselves, as well as to uplift who we are as people to bring us back up into that place of feeling good about ourselves, our culture is incredible. Very, very humbled to be part of this show.

You’ve worked with Jennifer Hudson on The Voice UK, what was that like, especially now having this full circle moment?

When anyone says anything about Jennifer Hudson it still feels very surreal,  like ‘that happened’. She was my coach on The Voice, I think because she came from a background of reality TV as well, she had a lot of genuine wisdom.  She was so patient and so understanding.

Although you’re playing the same role, what do you bring to your version of Effie?
With something so iconic like this, it’s so easy to compare people who played this. But I think I have to remember I’m a completely different person to who they are, so I would never bring something that they’ve brought… I can also recognise who I am as an actress as well and put my own stamp on it. When I did it in the West End, I was the youngest Effie. I think it’s one of those things where over the course of the tour I can find new things that make it very personal and my own.

What are you most excited about on the tour? Are there any venues or towns that you’re looking forward to performing in?

I’m just excited to get around the UK, a bit around the UK, I’ve barely been around the UK. I think I’m most excited for Cardiff, I’m a massive Dr Who fan and most of Dr Who is filmed in Cardiff. But just being part of different audiences, hearing different reactions, accents in the audiences, all of it.

What life lessons have you learned through Effie?

She’s taught me a lot, in Act 1 we see Effie very overly confident, and we see her in a very different place in the second act she’s much older and wiser in some respects, it’s taught me to balance that a lot. I think staying humble in this industry is so important and you can get completely swept away with the industry and Effie has taught me that a lot. It’s a very strong female show which is so empowering, we’re going to empower so many women so many men and non-binary people. And I think it’s so empowering to know our worth, especially as black people to fully embrace that, she’s taught me about more self-love.