Famous in Love’s Niki Koss Is a Writer and Director, Too
Meet Niki Koss. At 23 years young, the Los Angeles native stars in Freeform’s most buzzed about TV show Famous in Love alongside our former cover girl Bella Thorne. Based on a novel of the same name, Koss’s character, Alexis, is billed as the bad girl with a huge secret.
Long before she joined Famous in Love, Koss made her own web series Royals and cut some teeth doing lead roles in smaller flicks such as Red Wing, which was produced by director/writer Terence Malick.
Apart from acting, Koss adds in two other skills on the notch of her belt: writing and directing. As a legit triple threat, it’s easy to see why Hollywood is calling her name.
The bubbly brunette and I chat about fame, how she became a triple threat and what it means to be an Aquarius.
As someone who’s on the rise, how do you relate to “Famous in Love”?
It’s weird because a lot of us talk about it. We feel like we’re sort of going through stages of the journey. We have so many moments in real life where we’re living in the show right now. It makes it much more fun and real for us in the best way.
What do you really think of fame?
It’s a huge responsibility that people [can use to] change lives for the better. Some take advantage of fame and can’t handle it. I think it really comes down to great power and responsibility. That’s much the case with fame and what you do with it.
You work alongside Bella Thorne, who plays your rival and is a fellow peer. Given that your characters don’t get along, how do you build that dynamic on the show?
I mean, we both get a kick out of our characters. I think it’s so fun. I hope tension goes away after the first season and we’re going to have a more amicable relationship. We’re always laughing in between takes; we don’t take the animosity between our characters too seriously in real life.
“Famous in Love” has been compared to “Pretty Little Liars.” How is it different?
“Pretty Little Liars” has a bigger mystery element than our show. It keeps you on the edge of the seat. So does ours but, in a totally different way. It’s just a fun show to watch!
Since your character has a secret, what exactly is it?
I think she struggles with this title that she got placed with at an early age, which is “America’s Sweetheart.” She has to second guess everything so that she can maintain it. If she wants to be in a relationship with a girl, she has to think about the whole aspect of “America’s Sweetheart.” I’d say right now, that’s her big secret.
You’ve been in a BAFTA-nominated short, “A Teenage Drama,” and Terence Malick’s “Red Wing.” Given that not many actresses like you are in those types of movies, what is it like to work within a more grounded genre?
Well, it’s amazing. One of the best parts about doing this for a living is to make those different types of choices and push yourself in that way. I welcome any opportunity to do that whenever I can and to do a different sort of project that I haven’t done before.
I hear that you write your own digital web series! Why have you decided to make your own show?
Well, the way that actually happened was that I was acting and I was going through a very slow period because of the nature of this business. Sometimes you’re really busy, sometimes you’re sitting on the couch and praying for work. I couldn’t handle it anymore. I decided to create something of my own to keep myself busy and I fell in love with writing and directing.
As a writer and director, how did you become interested in doing those things?
It felt very natural to me. I haven’t learned to do any of it in school. I started teaching myself every aspect of it and I love it. I felt connected to do it.
Aww! I remember that you recall those moments when you prayed on the couch for more acting work. Were a you a Christian growing up?
No, I’m Jewish and I grew up going to a Jewish school until I was in high school.
Whoa! That’s a completely different world.
I went to an amazing high school that was small and artsy. It was a totally different world.
I just remember walking in there at that school and seeing people rehearsing for plays, painting and writing in the corner.
That’s fascinating to see how experiences outside your comfort zone can completely change you.
As a born and raised Angeleno, how do you feel about being in show business?
My parents were never in the business, but I was up close to it. That’s all I ever really knew. I almost got a head start in that way and the business didn’t intimidate me because of that. It excited me because I felt that I could handle it.
Knowing that this business is kinda like The Hunger Games or American Idol, what was the biggest moment that you knew that you were going to overcome?
I’ve always known [that] when I want something, I want it. I don’t go into anything [where I’m] not ready to face it.
That’s a great mentality!
I think I get more stuff done.
I can sense that you are someone who likes to be very efficient and as an Aquarius, what is the most Aquarian moment you ever had in your life?
I had a lot! People make fun of me because that sign is so accurate for me. Of course Aquarians dress very eclectically. I definitely do that. Sometimes when I am obsessing over an idea or project I’m working on, I have to tune the world out and become this manic crazy person. I’m taping things to my walls and ripping apart things that suck. I feel like that is something I could see because I’m very out there with the creativity sometimes.
I’m a Gemini and we’re pretty similar!
Yeah, that’s a good sign. I get along great with Geminis.
Aww! What is the one thing you have never done in L.A. that you wanna check off on your bucket list?
It’s not really in L.A., but it’s a classic activity. I’ve always wanted to go to Catalina Island. I wanna see Alcatraz. That’s not in L.A., but it’s something that I’ve been dying to do. In LA, they do outdoor movies at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. That’s another one on my list!
Lastly, if you have $10,000 and spend it on something, what will it be?
[UPDATE: This story has been edited due to earlier transcription errors.]