Idyllwild Arts Academy theater major Nicolas “Nico” Yasko is a young man with a work ethic and a mission. While only a junior, he has the mind and discipline, not to mention an abundance of talent, to accomplish whatever he begins.
Nico is the next presenter at the Idyllwild Community Center speaker series, co-presented with Idyllwild Arts, and now with a new moniker — Idy Talks. His talk is called “Speech and Performance” and will focus on his inspiration as an artist and when he decided to become an actor.
Many non-actors, even if devotees of live theater, may think acting is easy — more inspiration than hard-honed craft. But of all the performing arts disciplines, being an actor arguably requires the widest breadth of skill sets — an ability to inhabit and disappear in a role so that to the audience, the actor is not performing but is authentically “being” the character. That ease of “being” a character is accomplished through rigorous training — training made more demanding by the fact that working actors must also sing and dance at levels on a par with their acting chops.
Nico not only understands those layered demands, he earnestly articulates how seriously an actor must prepare to have any shot at a career. “I look at my life every day,” he mused. “There is so much uncertainty in this life. We have to make something of the time we have. I’m looking forward to the future and know that I have to design it for myself.”
In interview, Nico is poised, confident and engaging. Juniors, even at a prestigious pre-professional training program such as is offered at IAA, are not necessarily expected to have a performing résumé. Nevertheless, when asked to provide one, and do it within time available to meet our paper’s deadline, Nico had one on this writer’s computer shortly after the interview.
Nico has no illusions about how difficult the challenges facing him as a performer will be. “Some may take a pass and choose a life and career that’s safe,” he said. “But I believe we have to go after the thing we love. We have to love what we do and go after it with all the fervor we have.”
At the Nov. 17 presentation, Nico will give insights into his preparation for roles and discuss his acting process. And, even though young, he has a firm idea of what processes work for him as an actor and how to fully inhabit and disappear into a role. “The eyes are everything,” he noted. “The audience will know if you’re really in the scene.”
To say he is self-motivated is a bit of an understatement. The son of a U.S. Marine father, Nico was born in Japan and has lived many places both overseas and in the U.S. He has learned to adapt.
While living in Indio at age 13, he decided he needed a professional training program to pursue his dream of becoming an actor. He completed his own application to Idyllwild Arts, without assistance, and won a coveted place in the theater training program.
“I’ve always been an entertainer, at least that’s what my parents say,” Nico said, “but I always thought I’d have a career in computer science.” He recounted his personal epiphany in seventh grade in middle school in Indio. “I was playing this character, Archie, in Jason Robert Brown’s musical ‘13.’ The audience was hanging on every word. It was an incredible moment and it changed my life.”
Nico recently landed a role in a professional Indie film that will shoot next year in Los Angeles. That role will help him acquire his Screen Actors Guild and Actors Equity cards.
He recently completed a leading role, Jason, in IAA’s production of “Medea” and will be featured in the upcoming new IAA musical “Welcome to Sleepy Hollow.”
Nico will talk about his role preparation process and feature several surprise guests, at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 17, at Silver Pines Lodge. There is a wine and cheese reception at 5:30 p.m. Both the reception and presentation are free to the public.