What initially appealed to you about the role of Leon and working on VH1’s DAYTIME DIVAS?
NIKO: What appealed to me about Leon was that he’s an ambitious person. I love that he’s a PA [production assistant], but he persists on sharing his ideas for segments and he actually gets a chance. I also enjoyed playing opposite of Tichina Arnold who plays Mo. When I found out I would have most of my scenes with Tichina, I knew I would learn so much from her.
How would you describe who Leon is and his arc in this season of the show?
NIKO: Leon is a kid that will not give up. He is always ready to share ideas, but still plays his role as a PA. No matter how many times he gets a shot at becoming a segment producer, and then goes back to being a PA, he is always ready to shine when he gets a chance.
What do you most admire and/or like about him?
NIKO: I love his tenacity. He’s not the type to give up and is loyal to his girl (Mo).
What is it like working alongside such a talented ensemble, including Vanessa Williams, Tichina Arnold, McKinley Freeman, and Camille Guaty?
NIKO: It’s honestly incredible to be working alongside such an amazing ensemble. I’m constantly learning on set and it pushes me to try new things and challenge myself. Many of the things you see on the show were because I had the creative freedom to try new and different things.
Any favorite scenes that you got to work on?
NIKO: Honestly, every scene I’m in is my favorite. The set is just full of amazing energy and laughter. So, just to be able to act with this group of people and the crew was always a highlight.
What is your favorite part about working on the show?
NIKO: The best part about working in his show was that I didn’t see it as work. I would go to set on days I didn’t even have scenes, just because the people were so great to be around. From crafty, to grips, to PA and sound, I loved spending time with everyone and we had a blast filming.
What has been the one thing you as an actor haven taken away from working on DAYTIME DIVAS?
NIKO: One thing that has stuck with me from working on DAYTIME DIVAS is to always challenge myself. I always tried different things in each scene and as the show goes on you get to see how comfortable I become in scenes. Even though it wasn’t in the script, I would try adding in new things to the scene such as eating a piece of fruit to give it more flavor and things such as that.
What do you hope viewers to take away from watching DAYTIME DIVAS?
NIKO: I hope that once a week viewers are able to watch the show and get some genuine great laughs from it. I also hope they get to see some of the dark drama that goes on in this industry. It’s a great balance of comedy and drama.
What is the biggest challenge working on DAYTIME DIVAS so far?
NIKO: The biggest challenge while working on DAYTIME DIVAS was trying not breaking character in scenes with Tichina and Vanessa Williams. They had some seriously funny moments and it’s really hard to stay in character when you have two amazingly talented women going “at it” all the time.
What is the biggest surprise working on DAYTIME DIVAS?
NIKO: The biggest surprise was seeing all the special guest stars in the first season. I grew up watching so many of them on TV and in movies, so it was just so great to be able to work alongside many of the guests.
What have you learned from this experience?
NIKO: I learned to keep doing what I’m doing and to keep putting forth the effort that I have been throughout the show. My work ethic was acknowledged and allowed me to have a lot of freedom on set and grow from that.
What has surprised you most about your career to date?
NIKO: One thing that I’m surprised about is that I don’t have my own show. I love being on set, it gives me life. I love being creative and I love being active. I leave everything on set every single time, even if I’m doing background that day and only have one line. I’m always doing everything I can and I can’t wait to have my own show one day, so that I can do what I love more often.
At this stage of your career, what do you think you have learned from the amazing variety of roles and projects you have worked on?
NIKO: I continue to learn about myself as a performer, professional worker and as a person. I’m learning the depths of my emotional spectrum, and testing how far I can push myself in different directions. Each role pushes me to bring these stories to life with experience and imagination and that comes from learning more about myself with each role.
Then what are the perks of where you are in your career right now?
NIKO: Experience. The more I’m able to work, the more I’m able to develop and refine my craft.
If there were one role you would like to revisit, which would it be and why?
NIKO: There is nothing I would ever revisit. I give it my all in each role. I make sure that I leave every set satisfied with what I’ve done because I know I did everything possible to make every scene I’m in great.
Do any of your characters and the situations they find themselves in ever leave a lasting impression on you?
NIKO: The only role that’s really left an impression on me is the one of Paxton on HOW TO GET AWAY WITH MURDER.
Has there been any great advice you have gotten? What advice would you offer to other upcoming and aspiring actors?
NIKO: Make sure to always give 100% of yourself to eliminate all insecurities, be patient and everyone has a time. It’s up to you to be ready and execute when your name is called.
Do you have any other upcoming projects that you can share that fans should keep an eye out for?
NIKO: My film recently came out and is called, “The Recall with Wesley Snipes” and my amazing buddy RJ Mitte. It’s a fun sci-fi thriller and because I’m a lead, my fans will be able to see more of me.
To see what mischief Leon continues to find himself embroiled in, be sure to tune in for all new episodes of DAYTIME DIVAS on Monday nights at 10:00 p.m. on VH1. Then to keep an eye out for Niko’s current projects, he can be found on Twitter: @NikoPepajLA
SENIOR ENTERTAINMENT REPORTER | Tiffany covers events such as San Diego Comic-Con, WonderCon and press junkets, as well as covering events at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills. She has a great love for television and believes that entertainment is a world of wondrous adventures that deserves to be shared and explored. Tiffany is one of the newest members to the prestigious Television Critics Association and is happy to be able to share her passion for television shows with an even wider audience of fans and her fellow critics..