Friday, August 14, 2009

Interview: Nia Peeples on Beauty, Fitness and Helping Others, Part 2

Television and movie lovers know Nia Peeples, whether it’s for her early work on the TV show “Fame” or the surf cult-hit movie “North Shore,” or for her later work on “The Young and the Restless” and the new Hallmark movie “Citizen Jane” (which premieres Saturday, Sept. 12 at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT). Nia is known for her talent as well as her beauty. In fact, in 2008 she was named one of People magazine’s 100 Most Beautiful People.

To say that Nia was surprised when she found out would be an understatement. “I was standing in line at a teacher-appreciation luncheon at my daughter’s school, and one of the moms came up to me and said, ‘Congratulations.’ I asked, ‘For what?’ She told me I was one of People’s 100 Most Beautiful People, and I said: ‘What are you talking about? Are you sure it’s me? It’s not Catherine Zeta-Jones or Valerie Bertinelli?’ — who I get mistaken for all the time.

“I just had to laugh. It was hilarious. I’ve been in the business for 25 years, and I know there’s a whole bidding process that goes on. I’m in a place in my life where I don’t have a publicist. I’m raising my kids and living in Malibu and doing other things. I’m not paying attention to those things.”

Nia continues: “I was honored because it came at a time when I didn’t have someone throwing me out in front of people’s faces and saying, ‘What about her?’ For me, it was like the industry saying, ‘You know, she’s looking pretty good.’ I appreciate it much more now than I would have in my 20s or 30s, or if I had had my publicist pushing it for me.”

With Nia’s outside beauty comes an inner beauty as well. She has quite a few humanitarian causes that are dear to her, including the relief work she did in 2004 after the devastating earthquake/tsunami in Southeast Asia.

Nia explains: “What we did was so enlightening for me, because — I was about 43 at the time — I needed to show people that Nia Peeples the woman was so much more than Nia Peeples the persona. I needed to go and just put my hand in doing what I know I could do. Lending my hand was more important than, say, waving in a parade.”

Seeing the grace of these people in need really had an effect on Nia. “I was incredibly moved by the people who I met. In the middle of this crisis, and in the middle of losing their homes and everything they had, they still remembered who they were, and they were happy. There was a feeling of contentment that never left them. And here I was, searching for myself, doing this crazy thing, and they had lost everything and still had what was most important.”

Nia also wants to help others find what they deem to be important, and is in development on a NIA line of beauty and fitness products. “Over the years, various people have come to me to promote fitness equipment, clothing or a line of hair and makeup products, and none of it seemed to be really true to who I am.

“One of the things I’ve been looking at the past few years is really figuring out what I would want my brand to be. What is it that’s different about what I have to offer? It comes down to getting women to accept who they are, make the most of what they have and diminish what doesn’t work. It starts with what you’re born with, and you have to think of what you feed it and how you treat it, and you go from there. We are all our own kind of beauty. You have to be able to look at that and see that it is beautiful, and then embrace and take care of it.”