Cougar Interview- Renna Nightingale '14

by University Relations

An actress and prolific blogger, Renna Nightingale ’14 inspires people to turn life’s unexpected plot twists into catalysts for change and empowerment. Propelled by passion, exuberance, and imagination, she seeks to motivate Millennials to make the most out of life.

APU LIFE: What do you hope to accomplish with your blog, Plot Twist?

NIGHTINGALE: I want to create a home base for those who dare to live interesting, powerful stories and help them feel connected. I’m honored that, as a young person, my words, insight, and experiences can impact people of all ages. Each week, I create inspirational and comical MON-day Videos—“mon” means “my” in French, so “Mon-days” should be our days; Wonder Woman Wednesdays, where I feature a blog post from a woman who makes a difference in her community through her passions; Fashion Fridays to inspire plot-twist style; and Sunday Stories to encourage my readers to start their week out strong. A recent favorite is an entry titled “Ten Seconds of Bravery” about facing fear, taking chances, and living outside of your comfort zone. Better an “oops” than a “what if.”

APU LIFE: What life lessons have you learned from blogging?

NIGHTINGALE: We can each create our own opportunities. With acting, I’m extremely dependent on casting directors and project timing. The blogging format enables me to move forward when my imagination strikes with an exciting idea rather than wait for the phone to ring. My discipline has grown as well. In order for my blog to feel like home to my visitors, I must be consistent. I earn their trust by creating new content when I say I will.

APU LIFE: How do you deal with the rejection and disappointment characteristic of an acting career?

NIGHTINGALE: Faith has been my saving grace. It’s taught me that my value does not come from my performance, but from being created in the image of God. So there’s no real risk. Even when I fail—and I do—the stakes are high from an emotional standpoint, but not a personal one. I am loved, and there is a purpose for my life. I believe that failure is imperative for humility. Then, after a good cry and some frozen yogurt, failure sparks action.

APU LIFE: How did college prepare you for life as both a writer and actress?

NIGHTINGALE: I chose APU over an acting conservatory because I wanted a liberal arts education. How could I possibly effect change through the arts without being informed about the world? I got involved in leadership opportunities, like Alpha, Service and Leadership Team (SALT), and studying abroad in South Africa. Classes with amazing professors like Bruce Baloian, Rachel Tracie, and Megan Fate Marshman challenged my thinking. After one class with Jennifer Dornbush, I added screenwriting as a minor and, for the first time, considered turning writing into a career. Since then, I’ve had one film produced, and another is in preproduction. Without that class, I don’t think I would have written my book or started my blog.

APU LIFE: What’s next?

NIGHTINGALE: I am thrilled about my recent film that just hit theaters in March 2016, Hello, My Name Is Doris, with two-time Oscar winner Sally Field, and Max Greenfield, who stars in the television show New Girl. I was lucky enough to be on set for Sally’s last shot of the film. As everyone was saying goodbye, she pulled me into a hug and said, “You’re going places, kid.” I’ll always remember that!

Originally published in the Summer '16 issue of APU Life. Download the PDF or view all issues.