Metro Detroit is home for ‘Y&R’ actress

Rebecca Powers
Special to The Detroit News

Twenty-five years after Madonna graduated from Rochester Adams High, Nadine Heimann received her diploma from the same suburban Detroit school and headed for bigger things in a bigger city.

At 18, Heimann moved to New York City, where she studied art and audio engineering and played bass and sang in an indie rock band. Modeling paid the bills.

Today, Heimann has a recurring role on the No. 1 daytime drama, CBS’ “The Young & the Restless,” where her name is credited simply as Nadine Nicole. The actress, whose Eurasian looks easily transition from athletic to sultry, portrays a young woman in a relationship with a man whose family dynamic is, you might say, a soap opera.

Heimann spoke with The Detroit News by phone from her home in Los Angeles:

Q: Had moving to New York been on your radar for a long time?

A: It was an intuitive decision. I wanted to go to see what opportunities I could create for myself.

How did you make the progression from studies at Fordham University and SAE Institute to modeling?

My mom started me in commercial print (modeling) when I was very young (doing) Kmart, Sears and Kohl’s paper-insert ads. I started learning how to move in front of a camera when I was 6. Also, I did martial arts for 12 years. That helped build my confidence. By the time I moved to New York, I’d been in front of the camera for a long time. Luckily, my (German-Filipino) parents blessed me with the ethnically ambiguous look, which was really popular.

Regarding ethnicity, “The Young & the Restless” storyline has featured several interracial romantic relationships — including yours with an African-American man. How do you feel about the role soap operas play in contemporary culture?

It’s a beautiful thing that daytime TV (portrays) new perspectives to middle America about relationships. Times are changing. We’re allowing people to love who they fall in love with and be who they are. It’s a great role model for that.

People deride soaps as lowbrow. But in developing nations, for example, they’re used to convey critical social issues through character development.

It comes down to a very primal need for people to empathize with the human condition, empathize with love and with hurt and with loss. (Daytime drama takes) the human experience and magnifies it so people can relate.

I once heard Alice Cooper say bands benefit from playing in bars every night, that the repetition hones skills. The demands of daily drama must be similar.

This is my first time with a large, recurring role, where I’ve been on for months at a time, working four days a week. Practice makes perfect. You’re so enveloped in the character. It’s really fun and juicy.

How does the schedule work?

Sometimes, we shoot one, two, maybe three episodes a day. We shoot Tuesday through Friday.

Given that drill, is there not time to memorize lines? Do you use Teleprompters? Can you reshoot if there’s an error?

There are no teleprompters. People get the script a few days or up to a week beforehand. When you’re on set, it runs really fast. You usually have one take. Sometimes if you mess up, you can get two. It’s the most fast-paced shooting you’ll find, which really keeps you on your toes; you learn to be in the moment.

I’m surprised more big-name stars don’t emerge from that regimen. Do you see it as a steppingstone?

Yes. It makes me more confident in my abilities. When I audition (for other roles), I’m ready and warmed up. Being on “Y&R,” watching everyone do it every day, memorize lines every night, change lines on set — it teaches you.

Many daytime actors have friendships, romance and marriage with fellow cast members. You’re a relative newcomer. Any close relationships yet?

I have become dear friends with Christel Khalil (Lily). And I’ve become really close with Mishael Morgan (Hilary), Bryton James (Devon) and Kristoff St. John (Neil). I work with them the most. No romances or marriages (laughter).

Where do you see your career going?

Right now, it’s mostly TV. I’ve always wanted to do film.

The 2014 short film “Lonely Planet,” in which you starred, received good notices.

I produced and shot the short love story in Barcelona. It’s been received into over 20 acclaimed international film festivals. It just won here in LA for best ‘dramedy’ short.

You founded the nonprofit organization True Connection. What’s its mission?

We work with schools throughout L.A. and Compton, doing creative arts, meditation and mindfulness education. We teach children about self-love, gratitude, forgiveness, purpose, trust. We’re promoting it with a fundraising video with some of the “Y&R” actors in it on Giving Tuesday. We’re also partnering with the Saginaw Art Museum this summer. The kids will create a communal art project that will go up in the museum.

Rebecca Powers is a Metro Detroit freelance writer.

‘The Young & the Restless’

12:30 p.m. weekdays

CBS (Channel 62)