To say Narci Regina has had an unusual path to her acting career is an understatement. From graduating Pre-med at Penn State and thinking about a career in medicine, to receiving her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology and teaching special needs children to finally realizing that acting was her passion, her journey to Hollywood has been a unique one.
Narci has performed in theater, in film and on television and is already making a name for herself. She’s appeared in television series such as The Equalizer, Law & Order: SVU, Blue Bloods and FBI. She received glowing reviews for her work in the short film Reasons and also took home the Best Actress in a Short Film at the The Newark International Film Festival. She also worked with the late Chadwick Boseman in the film 21 Bridges.
We had the opportunity to sit down with Narci and talk about her career so far, what it was like to meet her idol Queen Latifah on the set of The Equalizer and how important it is for people to create their own content.
Pop Culture Principle – Before you got into acting, was that something you thought about pursuing when you were younger?
Narci Regina – I fell into acting a lot later in life than most of the actors that I know. My dream was to be a doctor. I graduated pre-med from Penn State and even took the MCAT, but I just didn’t think medical school was a good fit, so I became a speech-language pathologist and did that for a couple of years.
After doing that for a couple of years, I then became a mom. The plan was to jump back into my job as a speech-language pathologist and then my gut was telling me no and that I had to do something else. After becoming a mother, I started taking acting classes and the doors started to open for me.
Pop Culture Principle – Did your job as a Speech-Language Pathology help you when you became an actor?
Narci Regina – I didn’t realize that doing that kind of job would help me as an actress because I was in denial about going into acting for so long before I took an acting workshop. I’ve experienced so many things not pursuing acting growing up and it made me really empathetic to different situations. I’ve been exposed to a lot working with children with special needs.
Narci Regina – This Is Family was a series of one act plays that me and a bunch of actor friends of mine worked on through our acting school, Playhouse West. Our acting teacher always encouraged us to write our own stuff and make our own plays and films. My friend Samantha Lynn Parry created and organized the entire show in Philadelphia first.
I helped to co-write and produce one of the plays entitled, Home, as it was five one act plays that we selected, and it did well. When we decided to take the play to New York, I helped to co-produce the entire show with Samantha in New York. It was a lot of work, but I learned a lot.
Pop Culture Principle – How important is the audience when you are performing on stage?
Narci Regina – You really depend on the audience and it’s almost synergistic. The energy that the audience gives you feeds or depletes you, believe it or not. It’s such a rush and your exhausted after every night. 😊
Pop Culture Principle – You starred in and produced the short film Reasons where you won Best Actress in a Short Film at The Newark International Film Festival among other selections and awards for the project. Can you talk about the film?
Narci Regina – Reasons is in the late 1950s and is about a 1950s mother struggles with the stigma of being single and feeling unworthy of true love. I had a heavy hand in Reasons. The writer and director, Yvette Pabon, first wrote a five-minute version of the film a couple of years before we went into full production for the short film. I then jumped on the project and helped her produce it and help with some rewrites of the script.
We just dove right into going heavy into the film festival circuit and we received a lot of selections which I am super proud of. I learned how to produce, how to make relationships and how to become a more considerate actress on set because as a producer, you learn everyone’s job on set. Now that we are done with the film festival circuit, we hope to have some distribution setup soon.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you remember what was your very first paid professional acting job in film or television?
Narci Regina – My very first paid professional gig in television was a show called Alternatino. It was on Comedy Central and was created by Arturo Castro. It was such a fun comedy sketch show and it was my first co-star and I got to act with Richie Moriarty who now plays Pete on Ghosts.
I was shook because it was my first legit thing and I just wanted to make sure I did a good job. It was a fabulous experience and I felt like I was a cohesive part of a story on a professional level. Also, it was comedy, and a lot of people don’t see me as a comedy actress. 😊 But my first paid film gig was 21 Bridges, starring Chadwick Boseman. I played a waitress and girlfriend to one of the villains, who gets killed right in front of me. I feel so blessed to have had the opportunity to work with Chadwick, even if it was just for one day.
Pop Culture Principle – You appeared in a very powerful episode of FBI entitled Discord. Can you talk about landing that role and working on that set?
Narci Regina – That episode was the first time that I got to be a part of an arc of a story and the arc of a character and the way that character evolved throughout the episode. It was definitely an emotional episode because my character was fueled by activism and fighting the good fight with my father and looking at law enforcement as the enemy and an obstacle.
Then, watching my father being murdered in front of my eyes and being questioned by law enforcement who I didn’t feel was working in my best interest or my father’s best interest. Then, when my character realized that it was possible for law enforcement to be a part of helping me, it was very eye opening. I felt extremely grateful to be a part of that story.
Pop Culture Principle – Another Dick Wolf series you appeared in two episodes is Law & Order: SVU. Can you talk about your experience on that show?
Narci Regina – I prepared heavily for that role because there were so many layers to the character. She was victimized and the elite took advantage of her, but at the same time she allowed them to so that she could take advantage of them. Now that she was in that position of success and power, does she want to help SVU and throw it all away?
She had to come to the crossroads of whether she should help them, and it took Ice T’s character to bring her back to her roots. It’s unfortunate, so many women that are in that spot, I totally understand if they don’t do anything because they have so much to lose. It was such a tough position for that character, and I really enjoyed my time on that show.
Pop Culture Principle – Law & Order: SVU is such a well-oiled machine. Were you nervous at all stepping on set for the first time?
Narci Regina – Yes, I was nervous! At least in New York and on the East Coast, getting a Dick Wolf show on your resume is a big deal. I auditioned six or seven times before I booked the job. I was very nervous because it’s such a high standard. When I was on set, it’s such a well-oiled machine to the point that it’s like family working together. They have to invite so many new people on set so often, they are so warm. Kelli Giddish was a doll and Ice T was amazing. Once I was there and I was working with them, I didn’t feel like an outsider, but felt like I was part of the family.
Pop Culture Principle – Your most recent television appearance was opposite Queen Latifah on The Equalizer. What was the experience like and what was it like working with Queen Latifah?
Narci Regina – First, I really tried not to let it show, but I was starstruck in her presence because I grew up with Queen Latifah. She’s from Jersey and I’m from Jersey. She was super considerate and very kind and open. When they were setting things up between scenes, we would run lines together and talk about how we were feeling in the scenes, and she was also cracking jokes. She’s just such a calming presence that any anxiety that I might have felt went way down. She’s such a force to be reckoned with and I really enjoyed working with her. I’m sure she’s working her butt off, but it just seems very effortless. She sets the precedence for a calming cohesiveness on set.
Pop Culture Principle – Hollywood continues to deal with the issue of diversity in its entertainment be it people of color and women. Do you think the industry is heading in the right direction and what do you think it will take to make things better in Hollywood?
Narci Regina – I do feel like it’s moving in a better direction. From an acting standpoint, I do believe more opportunities are available. I do audition more and for more roles of substance instead of the “around the way” girl roles, even though there are still plenty of those roles out there.
There’s still a lot of work to be done, especially getting more people of color in the writers room. Also, more of us being producers and behind the camera. Most sets that I have been on I do see a sprinkling, but it’s not a significant presence. Although, that wasn’t the case on the set of The Equalizer. You can tell from the top down that show is making huge strides. In every department, there were people of color. I would like to see more opportunities were the characters of color are people dealing with real everyday issues, conflicts, and problems, especially for women. I’d like to see more roles for women of color where we aren’t objectified and not have to do oversexualized things that just seem gratuitous and don’t play any major part in the story.
Pop Culture Principle – As far as the business is concerned, where do you see yourself 5 to 10 years down the road?
Narci Regina – I would love to write more, and I would love to produce more. As far as directing goes, I don’t think I have developed that skill and don’t know if it is something that I would ever do. I would love to work hand in hand with a director, but I love producing.
I love seeing a project start from the infancy of an outline and then into a script. What crew are we going to work with? What actors are we going to cast? Do we want to go the festival route, or do we want to pitch this project? I definitely see myself creating my own content more in the future.
Narci Regina – I think it’s vital to longevity in the industry. Even starting out and you don’t have anything and don’t know what to do, make your own reel. When I couldn’t get material when I needed a reel, I made stuff with friends, and it turned out to be the best stuff in my first reel.
In my personal opinion, it makes you a more considerate actor to not only the people you are acting with, but with everyone that you are working with behind the scenes that are helping you create. It also makes you a more empathetic person which will make your life flourish in every other area in my opinion.
Pop Culture Principle – Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?
Narci Regina – Yes, I got to play in a couple mystery/thriller projects this year. I shot a recurring role in the upcoming series Harlan Coben’s Shelter, which will come out some time next year on Amazon. It’s a YA, thriller series. I play, Kitty, the mother of the lead character Mickey Bolitar played by actor Jaden Michael. It’s based on the Harlan Coben’s Shelter book series, which is a spinoff of the very popular Myron Bolitar book series. Another upcoming project that was recently announced is the feature film, Blunt, written and directed by Anna Elizabeth James and starring Amy Smart. In this mystery/thriller, I got to play as the fiery Naomi opposite Amy’s character, Dawn.
A big thank you to Narci Regina for taking the time to talk with us. If you would like to keep up with all her latest news, social media and projects, click here to visit her official website.
**Headshot photos courtesy of Narci Regina**
**Law & Order: SVU photo courtesy of NBC**