Nikki Reed, best known for her role as Rosalie in Twilight, is a bit of a chameleon. From actress to writer, musician to jewelry designer, she exercises the right side of her brain with serious variety. Her latest venture is a jewelry collaboration with 7 For All Mankind that launched in May. Considering that jewelry making was her first official “job” (at age 9, no less), it’s a natural fit for this natural beauty. Reed was recently at the 7 For All Mankind store at Somerset Collection for a meet and greet and took a moment to chat with StyleLine about her speed, creativity and the need to always be looking for that next big opportunity.
Karen: So it seems to me that you have the ability to do things fast. Which, I love in a person…
Nikki: It’s so funny that you pointed that out.
K: From writing a screenplay to falling in love.
N: To getting married.
K: Is it just that you know what you want? Are you like that in all aspects of your life?
N: I think so, and here is why I am going to agree with that sentence. My mom pointed that out when we were painting Easter eggs. Every year we do it at my house, and we’d bring out like 50 eggs, and we’d invite everyone over to paint. Paul (her husband) spent an hour and a half on one egg, doing, like, micro dots. He is so patient and he is so detail oriented. I was like, “Here’s an afro on this one, here are some googly eyes on this one”, and my mom said, “Everything you do, you’re just getting through it.” Like, I know what I want, and I make it happen somehow. No one ever wants to go furniture shopping with me, because I walk in and I say, “That couch is cool, here we go,” and that’s how I am. I just don’t have a lot of patience, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. It’s not like an irritable antsiness. I just like to get through.
K: You know what you want.
N: Yeah. That’s why Paul and I make such a good team creatively, because he can spend six months on one song, but at certain point you got to move on; you got to keep moving forward. You know, otherwise he will never record an album. So I am the driving force behind it. I’m like, “Okay, we have to have five songs by the end of the week, are you ready? Whatever amount of time you have to spend on it, fine, whether it’s 14 hours a day, fine, but we have to have this many done by this time.” So we meet in the middle there.
K: That’s hilarious. So was it the same thing when it came to this collection? Was it a fast decision?
N: No, the decision wasn’t fast. I obviously wanted this to happen so bad. I mean, I love what they do. I love what they stand for. I love how we met. I’m talking about it like it’s a person.
K: How did you meet the 7 For All Mankind people?
N: We met at this wonderful charity dinner for Step Up Women’s Network. They mentioned the jewelry I was wearing and I said, “Oh I made this,” and they seemed really fascinated with the fact that I could talk about it. It was actually mine, and I actually made it. And it actually came from inspiration from my family and different artists in my family, and I think they were drawn to that, that I actually take time in my own life to draw and paint.
I was so interested and so excited, and I got the phone call from my manager at, I think, 8:30 in the morning saying, “Hey I think its really going to happen, go ahead and start sketching.” I had already been rolling this around in my mind for so long. So I asked for them to send a lookbook of the new denim collection so I could see some of the patterns, and see what they were doing. And I turned my sketches in at like 2 in the afternoon. I mean they probably would have given me weeks. But I was already ready. I knew what I wanted.
N: I wanted to create something that looked very wearable, and I know that sounds like such an obvious thing to say, because it’s jewelry. But I like layering and I like things that feel really simple, because although the Starry Knight necklace is somewhat of a statement piece, it’s still…
K: It’s not overwhelming at all.
N: It’s not overwhelming, and the dark metal was meant to keep it on the subtle side. This is my music necklace. I wanted to create a necklace I could wear on stage, with a buttoned up denim shirt, kind of subtle, because our music has been kind of country and kind of folky. So my wardrobe identity is so different in the music world. I didn’t notice until I was done designing, but a lot of the pieces I have made have felt very strong, not very delicate. Not masculine, but not dainty. And I think that’s a direct reflection of what my personality is.
K: And you started making jewelry long ago, so this isn’t new for you at all.
N: My first job was making jewelry. My mom would take me downtown – I didn’t grow up with any money – and so all the kids at school, their parents were giving them money to buy cookies and buy their chalupas on Friday, and my mom literally didn’t have enough money, not enough to give me lunch money. So my mom and I started making bracelets by stringing on beads, and I sold them at school for three dollars a bracelet, which is huge when you’re nine. You sell two bracelets a day you get a chalupa and a cookie so that’s big.
K: You’ve come full circle, really.
N: Totally come full circle.
K: So have you had a chalupa yet with you’re new jewelry line?
N: Well now I don’t eat meat so there won’t be any chalupas involved. Maybe I’ll get someone to make me a vegan chalupa.
K: You dabble a lot.
N: Yes. I think it’s because I always want to better myself. In a very uncompetitive way. My brother and I, even though he is a year older than me, are not competitive at all. We are very supportive of each other. So I mean this in the most innocent way, but I’m always trying to challenge myself because my brother is such a wonderful artist. He is so talented. He would say this about me and I would say this about him. I would say he is better looking, smarter and more talented than me and he says the same about me. Everything he has approached, he has mastered. He is a brilliant painter and photographer and I have his art all over my house. So when I draw, I am actually thinking about him a lot of the time because I’m trying to better myself, and trying to explore areas that I know he has really excelled in.
K: Do you ever feel like you’re on the brink of biting off more than you can chew, or do you have the philosophy of “I’ve got the energy, so I’ll do it while I can do it?”
N: There is no philosophy behind it. I just have always been this way. I was the student who did my homework as soon as the assignment was given, so I had two weeks of not worrying about it. I’m a doe. And to say this in a really basic way, the entertainment business is totally unpredictable and unreliable, and, especially as a woman, you have to create your own opportunities. You can’t sit around and say, “Oh I’m just going to wait for a brilliant film to come my way.” I’m also in acting class weekly, and I take vocal lessons and am writing music. I’m always doing things, because there are doors that are closing in your face, and it’s really important that, for every hundred doors that close, to try to pry open your own, for that one opportunity.
K: How do you define your personal style?
N: My personal style is kind of funky, kind of eclectic. I guess I’m exploring the fashion world. So my style is not as consistently bohemian as it once was. I have a great appreciation for fashion and some of the great designers that I know I can wear for red carpets and things like that, and so I’m getting more experimental.
K: Do you dress yourself for red carpet events or do you have stylists?
N: No. I definitely have an opinion on things, but no, I work with some fabulous stylists. They are great and they know my style, so they pull things that really work.
K: So being temporarily blonde for Twilight, did you feel like yourself? Was there anything you did, makeup wise or whatever, to make you feel more like yourself?
N: It’s impossible to step onto a Twilight set and say, “I feel like myself.” I went through three to four hours of hair and makeup, and spray painting my entire body and re-contouring my face, and at the end of it all, you kind of cross your fingers and hope that you still look decent.
K: That’s what I did this morning,
N: Every morning. It’s quite challenging to make us all feel comfortable with what we look like in that wardrobe. And it’s interesting because Stephanie [Meyer] created this world that, when you read, your mind can interpret it as one thing and you can visualize it. But then actually trying to bring that to life, and create characters that look cold and pale and stone-like, but still beautiful… And I think we spent five years and five movies trying to figure it out, and I don’t know if we ever did, to be honest.
K: That would be something, to look that different every single day.
N: And every Rosalie looks different. I was constantly evolving, which was really bizarre. For the first movie, I dyed my hair, but [in other movies] I had different wigs to use, and a different hair and makeup team. They never used the same one twice, and that’s really strange to have a different makeup artist with a different interpretation of what the character was every single time. So we all looked different every single movie.
K: What did you prefer: dying your hair blonde, or the wig?
N: I actually felt the most comfortable when it was authentic, and dying my hair for the first movie was my decision. It was like three days before we started filming, and I said “I can’t wear a wig, I can’t do that, the fans are already having an issue with me being blonde, I have to show them that I can be blonde.” So I got in the hair chair, and unfortunately, I lost most of my hair trying to be so authentic. So that’s why they had to wig me, because every day my hair was getting shorter and shorter and they were putting extensions in and it just became a disaster.
K: As far as being a designer goes, do you ever think one day you’d like to have your own clothing line?
N: Yeah, I think about all these things. I actually mostly think about it because of my husband Paul. He is so in touch with the side of him that really appreciates fashion. So yeah, I definitely think about it. I want to do some men’s stuff, too, because I don’t think there is enough cool men’s jewelry lines out there. And Paul is a jewelry collector. So I’ve got to do something for him.