with Nikol Peterman (’98), Founder of ZenRedNYC

Nikol Peterman

What is one piece of advice you would give to all musical theatre artists?

Be present. Be in the moment. Don’t be thinking about the audition or the show where you messed up or felt horrible, or get stuck in what the creative team behind the table are going to think about you once you finish your audition. It’s so easy to either be in the past or the future, and both are an illusion. Embracing the ability to truly be present allows us to stay in the process, stay in our intentions and actions. Our focus will be on the story we are telling, not what went wrong in the past. True creativity comes from an open space, not from something we are desperately trying to control.

Something you learned at Penn State that you still carry with you?

The power of a teacher. I think about the teachers that championed me, challenged me, and encouraged me to grow. I learned how to sing, I learned how to tell a story through my dance, I learned how to choreograph, was introduced to modern dance, to composition, and given beautiful roles to build my confidence. I was given the opportunity to truly understand what it meant to carry a song on stage, and create relationships through my character. Growth can happen exponentially under the right guidance and with the right intention.

What would you tell your collegiate self now?

Trust yourself. I’ve always had a capacity to work very hard, but that has not always served me well. I used to ride the roller coaster of elation and disappointment, constantly struggling with expectations. I would tell my collegiate self to let go of control more, and release perfectionism. I used to be very good at beating myself up, and it only created patterns that worked against me the longer I was in the business. The issue has never been my talent, but how I judged it.  

Favorite experience working in musical theatre?

In 2010, I was the SSDC Observer for the Off-Broadway production of The Scottsboro Boys at the Vineyard Theatre. It was the most amazing two-and-a-half months. Just being in a room with Susan Stroman and John Kander was electric, not to mention the caliber and energy of the cast. The second day of rehearsal, the teenager Cody, who played the youngest Scottsboro Boy, was out sick, so Stroman asked me to get up and stand in his place. I leapt at the chance and then the following day, she asked me to teach him the choreography. When the cast reconvened and ran through the piece, Cody knew every step. Stroman turned to me and said, “good job.” I was on cloud nine. I was beyond inspired by the direction and artistry of the piece, but more than anything, I was being taught about the power of collaboration. There was never any question of ego between Stroman, Kander, or Thomson. The team took me under their wing and what I learned in that room, I have carried into all projects moving forward.

What is a dream that you are working towards?

I have a dream to empower the community to release the old stereotype of being a “starving artist.” I am launching a revolutionary video summit on May 11, called The Wealthy Artist: Break the Starving Artist Mold, Tap into Your Confidence, and Take Control of your Career. I’m interviewing over 20 experts across the board, from Broadway directors to actors, playwrights, empowerment coaches, wealth managers, artist advocates, yogis, and musicians, and sharing their views and teaching with the industry. I believe we are given so many practical classes on singing, dancing, acting, making the perfect resume, and auditioning, but not a lot of emphasis placed on mindset. Performers get stuck in scarcity believing their art is not good enough, and they spiral in self worth, equating a bad audition to being a failure as a person. There is a constant reaching outside themselves for recognition and this roller coaster sabotages growth, and the overall quality of their work. I want to offer tools for wealth as a performer, and let others know they are not alone. As we build community, we can build strong networks to support each other, and create from a place of abundance instead of taking jobs that don’t pay the bills, and leave us starving financially and emotionally. Mindset is the beginning, middle, and end, and it’s time to include that in the education of an artist.

How can Penn Staters join the ZenRedNYC community and how can it benefit them?

I've created a very special online space as an offering to build communion amongst artists, yogis, dancers, and practitioners. People are so busy with their lives, and it's difficult sometimes to step back and have a minute for yourself, so this is like a little treat that I can offer people to step out of their schedules for a moment and reconnect with an adventure or experience, feel good, and come back to center. It's something I love to do and it's my way of giving back. You can sign up at to access my weekly newsletter, which will have all sorts of meditations on art, intention, change, authenticity, and our basic intrinsic commonalities. We can easily feel lonely and disconnected with our schedules, struggles, and life demands. I offer this forum to remind you how alike we all are, and how understanding this link brings us closer.

I am also a huge lover of collaboration, so please feel free to email me at I want to hear from you!

Nikol Peterman
Life Coach/Writer/Collaborator/Choreographer

Nikol is a holistic life coach who works with artists to reconnect them to their big WHY, their passion, by helping them past their blocks. She empowers artists to be free and prosperous through community efforts, meditation, yoga, visualization, writing, and other body-mind modalities. She specializes in survival skills for overcoming fear and the constant roller coaster of rejection and short-lived elation. Nikol views the client as a whole person, taking all aspects into account, and ultimately empowering the client to create from a place of authenticity and joy, instilling a wealthy mindset and ability to take inspired action.

Nikol is a professional actress, choreographer, and writer living in NYC. Her work spans across film, commercials, musical theatre, and print modeling. She loves working with children, and has choreographed for all ages and levels. She teaches local workshops on Authentic Performing and Auditioning, and hosts VIP days for those who are looking to intensify their drive and create a one-on-one action plan.

Follow her @ZenRedNYC on both Twitter and Instagram





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