Interview: Nikki Leigh Talks Santa Fe in A Girl Is a Gun

We recently caught up with actress Nikki Leigh to talk about her role in A Girl Is a Gun, a Blackpills exclusive series that follows a group of women who train at a secret guerilla camp to fight against misogyny and injustice in Los Angeles. The series also stars Denise Richards, Charlotte McKinney, Courtney Sinclair, and Dey Young.

Rogues Portal: For people who might not be familiar with the Blackpills app, can you tell me a little bit about A Girl Is a Gun?

Nikki Leigh: Yeah! Well, Blackpills is a free app that everyone can download in their Play Store [for Android] or their app store [for iOS]. There’s a bunch of new content on it, so you know, everyone’s out there to find their favorite new show. It’s really cool to have something at our fingertips that we can find on our phones or iPads or whatnot and you can just sit there, wherever you are — waiting for a bus or a taxi or whatever you’re doing — and it’s right in the palm of your hand.

With that said, my show A Girl Is a Gun is really badass and I don’t think it could come at a more perfect time, when there’s so much women empowerment. It’s a really showing a unified female presence, which is really amazing. It’s about a town that is run by, you know, these men who are obviously misogynistic because that’s just the way it’s going. It’s the mayor and the chief and the lawyers of the town… It’s really about women coming back and fighting back. Guys are taking over and putting women down and these women go missing and no one knows what is happening.

There’s a whole other side to the story where all these women are actually kind of abducting themselves, in a sense, in order to be a part of this guerilla group that is planning and training and working together in order to fight back against these men that I mentioned. It’s really amazing, very empowering. I just remember watching it and being like, “Yeah! I feel like I could do anything!” You know? It was really, really nice to have that feeling, especially nowadays.

It’s kind of remarkable, with the timing. I can’t even begin to tell you how perfect the timing really is. So, if you want to see girls, you know, get down, be badass — you get to see Denise Richards and what she is doing nowadays, so it’s really nice to have her, such a veteran of the business, and she’s a very powerful force for women as well. 

RP: Touching on that, what was it that originally drew you to this project? How did you get involved?

NL: I did the audition process. It was kind of crazy — they wanted me to memorize like a seven-page monologue the next day and go in there off book. It was intense while acting it, so not just memorizing the monologue but also giving the feeling and actuality to it. So that was the process, but when I got to read about the character Santa Fe, who I play, it just seemed like it’s relatable. It’s actually — out of all the characters in this story, I feel that it’s the one that people can most likely recognize.

You have this girl in her everyday life and she’s happy. Yes, there’s a bunch of things going on in her town and on a bigger scale, but you know, she’s happy with herself and with her life and the way that it’s going. All of a sudden, something happens to where her mind has to shift, and you see her triumph, which is nice to see, but you have to be taken through the entire roller coaster. You start when she’s okay and then her deep lows and then some really nice highs, but it’s about that journey. I think that’s what I really wanted to be a part of.

RP: You talked about this a little bit, but the timing of this series really could not be more perfect. Building on that, do you feel like this is a series that can inspire people to say something or do something or be more badass than they otherwise would be, especially in the current media climate?

NL: Yeah, I definitely feel like if you watch this — for women, especially — it can really spark kind of that guerilla side of you. It really kind of allows you to see these other women who are complacent in their lives. Their daily situation is not bad, but at the same time there’s such a bigger purpose and a bigger destroyer out there, for instance, within this TV show and within their town. It just shows that there are extreme negatives all around but these women take it upon themselves to be like, “You know what? This is wrong and we’re gonna come out of our mirage life and things going according to plan daily.” They allow themselves to be taken out of that and to fight for something bigger.

I feel like that’s what a lot of these women are doing with all these sexual assault stories that are coming out in Hollywood. I feel like it really resonates with the show, you know. You can live your daily life and all these negative things are happening, but what are you going to do about it? A Girl Is a Gun really allows you to get inspired and maybe even stand up for something that you need to stand up for. I think that it’s really nice to have that inspiration, and to actually see it play out on camera is kind of fun. To have everyone’s blood boiling.

These women in the show get to really take back their power and it’s really — it’s sexy, you know what I mean? That is really sexy. I love the fact that they go out there and they really put it to the man. They also — it shows the bond with the girls, too. All the girls get along really well and we did both on and off set. It was just a really nice bonding experience in general and also, something to portray for the fans.

RP: Do you feel like A Girl Is a Gun appeals to a wide audience? Is there something in it for everybody?

NL: I do, because it’s about right and wrong, basically. And it’s about empowerment. A Girl Is a Gun can be translated into anything that you want. It just means, like, you, with a soul, are more powerful than you think. In a fight, you’re not going to bring a knife to a gunfight. So that gun is a representation of something that’s bigger, stronger, and can annihilate or take down whatever it needs to. The series is called that because it’s about these women who come together and become a force and become that weapon. I think that men can also find things to be impressed with, to see an underdog triumph. We see women in the industry and things like that as kind of the underdog, and we’re trying to take that power and change people’s opinions. It’s about becoming stronger and fighting things that might seem normal and/or okay even when they’re not.

Everyone, I think, can relate to the fact that you want to do the right thing and you want to be powerful and you don’t want to be complacent in life. You want to take those risks and challenge and triumph. That, I feel, is what this show is really about.

Nikki Leigh // Photo Courtesy of MLC PR

RP: Has that kind of inspired you to either stand up for something that you otherwise wouldn’t have before you had this experience, or has it inspired you to be bolder or louder in any way?

NL: It has definitely inspired me to be stronger within myself, to remember that maybe things are moving along in daily life and there are people in control of those things but that doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s a positive. I’ve really taken it to really inspire me to become stronger, to just say whatever I’m thinking. Of course, I have to assess the situation, weigh my pros and cons, but it has definitely inspired me to take that leap forward and say what I’m feeling if it’s something that needs to be said. 

RP: You’ve done a pretty wide variety of TV and movies; you’ve done a lot of different roles. Would you say that this is among your favorites, or do you have a favorite role that you’ve played?

NL: This one really stood out for me, just with the strength behind it. Also, being able to relate to what’s going on and everything… I’ve been most proud of this character and I kind of want to be more like her, in a sense. I want to become somebody who isn’t afraid to stand up for what she believes in and go at it with full force. Also, I love the fact that she becomes part of a unity of women.

You know, my character Santa Fe is alone in her life. She has a boyfriend and everything’s fine. She works in a diner and has this regular life. She eventually gets to be something much greater but it first takes kind of a bottom that she has to hit. I’m not saying that’s something other people have to go through, but in this character in particular, she really has to climb from this bottom that she’s in and overcome things that are very emotional, physical, and mental. It’s really nice that she has a group of women cheering for her and helping her get through all this.

RP: Building off of that as well, other than A Girl Is a Gun, can you tell us about the other projects that you’ve been working on?

NL: Yes, I can speak a little bit about that. I have to keep it a little under wraps. I have a really cute movie that I just did. It’s called Roads, Trees and Honey Bees and it’s kind of like a Little Miss Sunshine. I would say it’s a coming of age film, but not really. It actually shows that no matter what age you are, there’s still room for growth. It’s never too late to change and become something that you want to be. It’s never too late to pursue dreams and if life takes a huge turn and you have to become something completely different and/or change your entire way, then it’s okay. It’s a very supportive film of someone going through different chapters in their life. That one’s a really sweet one and I can’t wait for that to come out. 

RP: As far as prepping for different roles, do you embody one character at a time or limit the media you consume? Do you do anything to dive into a role before you start filming?

NL: It really depends on the role. There’s some roles where I can switch it on when action is called and switch it off when cut is called. I would say Santa Fe in A Girl Is a Gun — there were days where I was able to do that, but it actually affected me quite a bit because of the tragedy that she goes through. I think it’s a common fear amongst women and what she has to go through really hit me, a bit, in my real life. I became very emotional and I was concerned and very cautious. That was new for me, because I hadn’t had to play such a real life tragedy in that way.

Other than that, to prep for characters, I just have to really make sure to really know who I’m playing. So I write biographies about the character and get to know the real background, like who she is, and that’s a good way that I try to resonate with whatever character I have to play.

RP: Do you have a dream role or a project you’d really like to be involved in?

NL: A dream role, yes. Be a superhero. In A Girl Is a Gun, it kind of embodies that superhero within all of us, which is really nice, but yes, I have a dream to become some crime-fighting, badass chick.

RP: Do you have a particular superhero in mind?

NL: I’ve really always wanted Supergirl, but I feel like that’s out right now so… Batgirl is coming out, so…

RP: You just worked with Denise Richards on A Girl Is a Gun, which I’m sure was amazing — is there anyone on your bucket list of creators or people you want to work with? 

NL: That’s a great question. I’ve always really wanted to work with Kristen Wiig. That whole Bridesmaids franchise just really got to me, so that or Melissa McCarthy. I think she’s amazing both as a producer and as an actress. She’s really badass and hilarious and she’s really done a lot. She’s done it with grace and great comedic timing and she’s just pretty phenomenal.


You can stream A Girl Is a Gun on the Blackpills app, available for free on both Android and iOS. To keep up with Nikki Leigh, follow her on Twitter and Instagram or like her on Facebook.

Samantha Puc is a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager residing in southern New England with her partner and three cats. She likes Shakespeare, space babes, bikes, and dismantling the patriarchy. She also loves vegan food. Her work has appeared on Rogues Portal, SheKnows, Femsplain, The Tempest, and elsewhere. For more, follow her on Twitter!

Samantha Puc

Samantha Puc is a freelance writer, editor, and social media manager residing in southern New England with her partner and three cats. She likes Shakespeare, space babes, bikes, and dismantling the patriarchy. She also loves vegan food. Her work has appeared on Rogues Portal, SheKnows, Femsplain, The Tempest, and elsewhere. For more, follow her on Twitter!

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