A New Hope
Annika Noelle Reached For The Stars — And Grabbed B&B
Call it fate or destiny, but Annika Noelle always knew she wanted to be an actress. “It’s been a part of my life since I was in preschool,” says the daytime newcomer. “My first role ever was a three-toed sloth in The Great Kapok Tree. Since then, acting has always been in my life, and in high school, I made the decision to pursue it as a career. I grew up a cinephile on old classic Hollywood films like Singin’ in the Rain and Once Upon a Time in the West. I loved those big, beautiful, colorful features — and that’s why I went into dancing, singing and acting, so I could be a triple threat in case musical theater ever came back to movies, which it did!”
When East Coast-based Noelle announced her intention to move to L.A. to follow her dream, her parents were wary but encouraging. “Their main concern was, ‘Will I be able to provide for myself?’ ” she explains. “I knew that was the risk going into it and they were incredibly supportive of it.” Her first step? Apply to school. “I applied to 10 theater schools, and it’s a really hard process because not only do you have to get accepted into the school, you also have to get accepted into the theater school.” Noelle chose UCLA’s prestigious program. “I worked my way through student films and extra work because I didn’t have any connections in L.A.,” she relays. “It took eight years to get where I am, and I’m so grateful for all of the opportunities I’ve had. It’s even harder now with the invention of the Internet. Not only are you competing against everyone in town, you’re competing against everyone in the world. Anyone can self-tape and send in auditions now, so it’s definitely tough.”
While making the rounds on the audition circuit, “I did paralegal work. I was a bartender. I was a hostess. I think that’s pretty much it,” she chuckles. But then came a string of national commercials for GEICO, Dairy Queen and Infiniti, which paid the bills and allowed Noelle to focus on her vocation. “Here’s a hint: If I’m brunette, then it was from before I got this job,” she quips of her ad work. “It was actually somewhere I could flex my comedy wings,” she elaborates. “They really embraced me because I could improvise on set, given the circumstances. Doing GEICO, I essentially got to live out my fantasy of being able to play a princess. I actually got to work with real animals; I got to hold a bunny, there was a deer to my right and a bird to my left. I had to improvise and say my lines as this pandemonium unfolded. The birds are flying around me and the rabbit was running where it shouldn’t. I’m still happy they’re running it!”
Her resumé grew with a role on the Emmy-winning web soap VENICE THE SERIES (ex-Sami, 2011-12), an appearance in 2014’s Jersey Boys and CHASING LIFE in 2015. B&B entered the mix last year. “I came in the room and there were 13 blondes and me and I thought, ‘Well, I’m not getting this one!’ But that actually freed me up because I didn’t expect anything. I already didn’t think the job was mine, so I just had fun.”
Noelle quickly got a clue that the role she was trying for was something big. “I went in totally cold,” she states. “I believed I was auditioning for a girl named Jennifer. Now, my mom watched GENERAL HOSPITAL and ALL MY CHILDREN when I was growing up, so I was familiar with the genre. However, the specifics of Hope and Liam weren’t known to me then, but as I started getting further down the line in the auditions, I did my digging and found out who this character could be. I felt like a CSI detective: ‘Deacon is my real dad. Ridge helped raise me and mom has been with this person and this person.’ It was a great mystery to solve.”
Her jitters kicked in as she moved on in the process, Noelle confesses. “It began getting stressful when you hear you’re going to read for Brad Bell [executive producer/head writer] on multiple occasions. But finally I was like, ‘You know what, nerves? You aren’t getting the best of me today!’ I went in, had fun and I think that’s what came through.”
Four months into her new role, Noelle has adjusted well to life in soaps, with help from her welcoming co-stars. “Scott [Clifton, Liam] and I felt that it was important for us to meet each other’s significant others, so we actually went on a double date together so we could talk and get to know each other,” she shares. “He’s someone I’ve really been enjoying getting to know. [Katherine] Kelly [Lang, Brooke] and I have a brunch date coming up soon. I was jealous of Ashleigh [Brewer, ex-Ivy] and Courtney [Hope, Sally] because when they first came on the show — they were like immediately traveling to Australia and Monte Carlo — and they told me those were great bonding experiences. I’m hoping to be able to travel with the cast and the crew and get to know each other in that way. I was so jealous of Jacqueline [MacInnes Wood, Steffy] getting to zip-line on the show!”
Noelle says she’s having fun discovering the ins and outs of her alter ego. “Hope can be a little judgmental, but her heart is definitely in the right place, and I love that about her,” she observes. “There are some things coming up where you’ll really get to see different aspects of Hope’s personality. As unexpected circumstances arise, you’re going to see her respond in ways that I think will be refreshing and enjoyable for the viewers. I’m in the groove now!”
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: December 24
Beantown Counter: “I grew up in the suburbs of Boston and I love it. I miss that town dearly. I miss the seasons, and I’ve also toned down my Boston sports fanaticism. Being away from the mother ship has calmed me — a little!”
The Family Unit: Parents William and Teri and younger sister Krista. “My sister is loads of fun. I was the theater geek and she was in the sorority and varsity sports teams. We look and sound alike, but she’s way taller than me — and everyone says I’m tall.”
Close Your Eyes: “I avoid watching myself [on the show] because I am my harshest critic. I see the faults or a line I didn’t enunciate well, and I’ve been learning what HD cameras do for a face.”
Beau Regard: Noelle’s boyfriend, Zach Fisher, “owns a recording studio, Big Bad Sound. He’s a recording engineer. It’s still new, but we have fun. I would never imagine myself to be dating a musician, but I am!”
Do I Know You? Though she hasn’t been recognized yet, “I was talking to Courtney [Hope, Sally] and she was telling me, ‘The airport is probably where you’ll first get recognized.’ ”
Follow Me: On Instagram, she’s annikanoelle.
DID YOU KNOW?
• “I’m a Steffy girl! Steffy is ‘ride or die’ and I would want to hang out with Steffy. She’s not as uptight as Hope and she likes to let loose.”
• Her cat, The Burrito Kitty Man, has his own Instagram page.
• She has jumped out of planes in real life.
THE FORCE IS WITH HER
The actress is well aware of the similarity of her name and that of Anakin Skywalker of Star Wars film fame. “Did you know Annika is an anagram of Anakin?” she says. “You can take the letters of my name and rearrange it and it’s Anakin. I love Star Wars. I dressed up as Darth Vader for Halloween a couple of years. Word of warning: It’s a really bad trick-or-treating outfit because you can’t see anything! I tripped over my cape and fell down a bunch because I couldn’t see anything.” The true origin of her name, however, “Is a whole lot of Europe. Annika was a Swedish/German kind of name that my parents loved and they thought it was unique. Noelle [her middle name] was because I was born on Christmas Eve, so they could honor the French heritage with that, as well.”
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