Playing the naïve, romantic lead against a surplus of testosterone and off-the-cuff irreverence in Broadway’s “The Book of Mormon,” Nikki M. James stars as Nabalungi, a young Ugandan villager seeking love and salvation — but not necessarily in that order. On a sunny Friday afternoon, the NYU Tisch School graduate and 2011 Tony Awards nominee paused playing with her 18-month-old nephew to answer a few questions.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
The power of the word “no.” In a career like this, you feel like you have to say “yes” to everything, but you don’t.
What’s your favorite dish to cook for yourself when you’re not in a rush?
My mom is Haitian; I make my mom’s rice and beans.
What’s your most prized possession?
A pair of custom-made silver slippers that were “liberated” from the La Jolla Playhouse when I was doing “The Wiz.” They’re incredible, and I’m not supposed to have them – but I do somehow, magically.
Did you have posters of famous people on your wall growing up? If so, who?
I had probably 50 framed headshots of the Broadway stars at that time, and my favorite one was [an autographed photo] of Audra McDonald.
What’s your favorite song ever?
I’m a Gemini, so it always comes down to two. My favorite musical theater song is “A Sleepin’ Bee” from “House of Flowers.” And my favorite non-theater song is “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure.
What was your best or worst date?
I was invited to dinner with a friend and we went out for drinks in the East Village when I was in college, and we got drunk on margaritas. And at the end of it, he tried to kiss me. And that’s when I realized we were on a date. If I’d known, I would not have accepted.
Now that you’ve been interviewed a bunch, who would you want to interview and why?
I would want to interview Paul Newman, who is no longer with us. He is my all-time favorite movie star, actor, philanthropist. And I think he’s really dreamy, too.
For more reviews, interviews and news from Broadway (and Off-Broadway), read T. Michelle Murphy’s blog, Well Played.