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Alumna Finding Her Way in Competitive Acting World 

Olivia Nicole Hoffman ’10 has stage, TV, and film credits. It all started with her sisters, Lara ’04 and Lindsay ’06, and their mom, Nancy.  

“My sisters and I grew up making long improvisational plays and musicals,” Olivia said by email from California. “No joke, my mom would hit record on her camcorder, and we would just go on for hours creating these elaborate characters and scenarios. I started singing lessons when I was five, so that introduced me to storytelling more specifically. And then when I was nine, I started performing in A Christmas Carol at Hartford Stage and I was surrounded by all these adult actors who were just incredible. Like living cartoons or something. I just admired them so much.” 

Olivia appeared in eight musicals and plays at Loomis Chaffee, was in the Concert Choir and Chamber Singers, and was the recipient of the Morris H. Brown Senior Theater & Dance Prize. She graduated from Emerson College with a Bachelor of Fine Art in acting and the London Academy of Music and Dramatic Art (LAMDA) with a Masters in Classical Acting. 

There she received her best piece of advice from LAMDA instructor Jenny Lipman. Two simple words: “Be brave.” And it was here at Loomis Chaffee that she found a home in the NEO. To Olivia, the Norris Ely Orchard Theater was a giant classroom filled with possibilities. 

“The Loomis theater program had such an enormous, wonderful, and lasting impact on me,” Olivia said. “Brian Kosanovich was head of the [theater program]; he is a legend in my mind, and he really encouraged me to pursue acting professionally.” 

Brian convinced her to try out for Shakespeare in her freshman year, setting her on a path to spend four years on the NEO stage in a wide range of productions.  

“Mr. K introduced me to the collaborative actor-director relationship,” Olivia says. “The NEO is, to this day, one of my favorite places I’ve ever performed. Loomis also encouraged me to start writing my own material. There is such an amazing group of actors to come out of Loomis, and I remember watching people on that stage when my sisters were in school and performing at the NEO — Ian Lassiter, Betty Gilpin, Nana Mensah, Boomer Zdrojeski — there are too many to name, but I know the NEO was like this creative hub for all of us and Mr. K facilitated that.” 

Olivia appears in her second Hallmark Channel movie, Aloha Heart, which premiers July 29 at 8 p.m. Her first Hallmark movie was Two Tickets to Paradise in 2022. She has appeared in guest spots on the long-running CBS police drama Blue Bloods this season and on Magnum P.I. on CBS in 2022. Olivia also has had various stage roles, such as Yael in the West Coast premiere of Ali Viterbi's In Every Generation, #7 in Sarah DeLappe's The Wolves, and Emily in Wendy Wasserstein's Third. 

The ultra-competitive environment in which she operates creates highs and lows. 

“The toughest part for me is when you’re so close to getting a part and don’t get it. It’s almost easier when you aren’t in the running,” Olivia said. “But when it’s between you and one or two other people, and you’re months in and you’ve read for the part more than once and you don’t get it, it can be brutal. However, getting close to something usually means you’ve made a lasting impression on that casting director, and they will continue to call you in for things that often lead to getting cast in other projects.” 

She said she was in the running for a role in a “big studio film” at the end of 2021. She had auditioned multiple times. 

“They ended up giving the role to someone else … I was the backup. It was rough,” Olivia said.  

She said she was the COVID “replacement” for her first Hallmark film, which illustrates one had to be ready on a minute’s notice. 

“The woman they had offered it to was all ready to start principal photography, and then she tested positive for COVID three days before shooting started,” Olivia said. “She tested positive in the morning, I was offered the job a few hours later, and got on a flight to Hawaii that same night. It’s a tough, tough industry and you have to learn to love the adventure of disappointments. They are in fact adventures. In the scheme of things, how boring would it be to get every single thing you wanted? 

Here are more excerpts from a recent Q & A with Olivia. 

What is the best part of performing on stage, on TV, in a movie? 

The best part of performing on stage is the give and take with the audience. Because human beings are different, the audience will always have different reactions.  ... The theater is this living, breathing thing that is never the same twice, making it a different journey every time. Appearing in film/TV on the other hand feels more like a snapshot of a life. You almost never shoot scenes sequentially, so it feels like this improvisation within the arc of a story. 

Do you prefer stage, TV, or movies? 

I think there’s something so special about performing live on stage. It’s very intimate. I love all three because I love acting and learning something new about the world and about myself with each project. I’ve had the good fortune of working on so many different projects, and I am always amazed by the other artists involved. I feel like I get to keep a little piece of each project going forward. But yeah, I guess I have to say I really love being on stage … but then I also really love being on set … this is kind of a stalemate. 

Olivia Nicole Hoffman '10 in an episode of Blue Bloods on CBS.

Olivia Nicole Hoffman in an episode of the CBS hit series Blue Bloods. She played what she described as a "con-artist hippie." She is pictured with Vanessa Ray, who plays officer Eddie Janko on the long-running police drama that stars Tom Selleck.

I suppose the average person thinks you met all the regulars on Blue Bloods. Did you or is it you go in and do your thing, and that’s it? 

It was a very warm set. I met a few of the regulars. [Police officer] Eddie Janko, played by Vanessa Ray, was the character I interacted with the most and she could not have been lovelier. I also met Donnie Wahlberg who plays [Detective] Danny Reagan. You kind of go in, do your thing, and leave. It’s very fast-paced, especially with procedurals. You audition, do your callback, go in for your fitting, get to the set ready to shoot, and go home. I would say I interacted with one of the writers, Ian Biederman, the most. You never know who you might strike up a conversation with on set that has a lasting impact on you. I played this ... we’ll call her a con-artist hippie. Wardrobe had this shirt printed for my character with this big peace sign on the front of it. We did the first scene where I attack Vanessa Ray’s character and then fall to the ground pretending she is attacking me. The writer was so great — he ended up calling in a favor and giving me the peace shirt as memorabilia to thank me for my work. It’s stuff like that, the kind gestures on a set that’s been in motion for 13 seasons, that you really remember. 

Olivia Nicole Hoffman '10, second from left, in the upcoming Hallmark movie Aloha Heart. A typical day on the set starts as early as 6 a.m. and wraps up about 12 hours later. 

What has it been like working for Hallmark? Can you give us an idea of what it’s like to shoot a Hallmark film and what a typical shoot day looks like? 

Working for Hallmark is amazing. Both films I’ve shot with them have been a blast. The upcoming film Aloha Heart was shot on the island of Oahu over the course of a month. The shoot schedule is different for every project, but Hallmark moves very fast, and you can get rewrites the same day you’re shooting a scene. A typical shoot day: getting to base camp as early as 6 a.m. to get into hair/makeup/costume and getting to set around 8 a.m., breaking for lunch around 1 p.m., resuming shooting around 2:30 p.m., and ending in the evening around 6 or 7 p.m. I thrive on fast-paced energy, so I find the hectic schedule invigorating. 

How do you keep yourself motivated through highs and lows? 

Auditioning is a full-time job, so even when I’m not working on a project, I am always in motion. Staying creative via auditioning, continuing to take classes, and writing/making sketches is extremely important. In the last year, I’ve been fortunate to have consistent work. This has definitely not always been the case. Sometimes you’re banging down every single door and only one cracks open for a millisecond. I’ve never struggled with motivation when it came to pursuing acting, though, because I love it. … I think some people have callings. I’ve never felt like throwing in the towel, even during some extremely challenging or frustrating moments. I think one has to be that level of motivated in order to stay with it because a performing career is like riding a mechanical bull — it’s like “GET OFF! GET OFF!” And you have to just stay on. I don’t know where that came from — I’ve literally never ridden a mechanical bull in my life. 

Talk about your social media presence and how that might help you? 

The social media thing is something I tried so hard to avoid. My manager kept telling me that I should get on TikTok, and I kept saying that I really didn’t want to. This dance went on for about two years. I think there’s this thing with TikTok where people can pigeonhole you. I’ve come to realize that as long as I’m making the kind of content I think is entertaining, funny, or showcases something about me that I might not get to in another arena, it’s worth it. It has actually assisted in getting me a job. I made a few love is blind parody TikToks earlier this year that went viral and then took a long break because I was doing a play. When I started making videos again, I came back with a video where I made Titanic into a theme park ride. It went viral and BuzzFeed did a feature about the video and its sequel. This happened to line up with my audition for Aloha Heart. Hallmark actually loves people that do improv and comedy. My auditions have always included some improvisation. When I was vying for the role, I had my agent send the casting director and the director my TikTok profile and the BuzzFeed post. I’m sure that is not why I ultimately got the role, but anything that shows a casting person or a director who you are and how your brain works is gold. If it’s between you and someone else and you have a whole profile of ridiculousness, it might just be that .0001 percent nudge in your favor. 

You can follow Olivia on TikTok — @itsmeolivianicolehoffman — and on Instagram — @olivianicolehoffman. 


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