Nikki Cano is a 20-year-old multi-hyphenate — like, many many hyphens. She works as a model, actress, makeup artist, designer, and vintage seller on Depop. Raised in a small suburban town north of Miami, Cano moved to Los Angeles to become a model-actor. Since then, she’s appeared in a couple short films, performed in a production of Tony Kushner’s A Bright Room Called Day, and been featured on Refinery29 discussing Latinx beauty and in Teen Vogue modeling prom looks.
“Anything that makes me feel nostalgic moves me,” she says — whether that’s fashion, music by artists like Carrie Brownstein and Kathleen Hanna, or queer French cinema (her favorite films include Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Water Lilies by Céline Sciamma and The New Girlfriend by François Ozon). We spoke with her about Paris, Lady Bird, and why she doesn’t do musical theater anymore.
What would your Real Housewives tagline be?
“I don’t pretend to be anything I’m not. Except sober … I have pretended to be sober.”
If you were running for office, what would your campaign song be and why?
“How I Roll” by Britney Spears. She speaks for herself.
What kind of animal would you be and why?
I’d be a cat because they’re cute and fluffy and I love to cuddle.
What are the last three songs you’ve listened to?
“It’s Okay to Cry” by SOPHIE, “Bubble Pop Electric” by Gwen Stefani, and “Suspended in Gaffa” by Kate Bush.
What superpower would you have and why?
I want to be able to fly so I wouldn’t need a car and so I could go to Paris whenever I want.
What’s your idea of a perfect day?
My idea of a perfect day is going to the beach with my girlfriend, listening to Kate Bush, and feeding each other carrots and hummus. Watching the sunset, reading my favorite play (Stop Kiss by Diana Son — it’s so good) and then eating vegan chocolate cake or something.
If you could master any skill that isn’t related to your current job, what would it be and why?
I would want to master being musically talented. Like being able to sing and read music. I used to be a musical-theater kid before I switched over to just theater, and I just know in a past life I was that girl who could sing while she tap-danced.
What three fictional characters do you relate to most?
Daria, Lady Bird, and Fleabag.
What piece of advice has had the biggest impact on you and why?
Take the time to get to know yourself. Going into the world is hard as a young gay woman and it’s so easy to fall into groups that define you. But I believe that’s something you have to do yourself. Being your most authentic self is so important, and I’m so happy I learned that at a young age.