Birth Date: January 8, 1980 / Age: 36
Birth Place: Augusta, Maine, USA
Biography: Rachel Emily Nichols is an American actress, best known for her breakout portrayal of FBI agent Rebecca Locke on FOX's 2005 series, The Inside. Born January 8, 1980 in Augusta, Maine, her first auditioned role was for the part of a restaurant hostess on Sex and the City.
Nichols was born and raised in Maine's capital city of Augusta. She always enjoyed outdoor sports, and ran track in high school. In fact, she still holds several track & field records for Augusta's Cony High. As a sophomore at Cony, she studied abroad in France, an experience that would unexpectedly prepare her for her future career. Nichols admits that she "wasn't the hot chick" in high school, referring to herself as a "late bloomer," but she was very intelligent. Upon graduation, she headed to Columbia University, intending on studying psychology.
It was at Columbia where the events fell into place that determined Nichols' current career path. According to Nichols, she stumbled into modeling "completely by accident," though it seems like a foregone conclusion now. Needless to say, she had "bloomed" by then, and was soon posing for companies like Guess? and Abercrombie & Fitch. Along the way, Nichols threw in some drama classes at Columbia, never knowing when she might need them. She maintained a difficult schedule throughout college, balancing her studies in New York with photo shoots in Europe. On top of all that, Nichols decided in 2002 to really pursue acting.
While she had appeared in various television shows in bit parts, she auditioned that year for the second-lead role of Jessica (the dogged school-newspaper reporter) in Dumb and Dumberer, a role which she eventually won. She left Columbia midway through her last semester to shoot the picture, managing to graduate in only 8 semesters. She wrote two term papers and took the final exam of her undergraduate career just days before shipping everything to Atlanta, where Dumberer was being filmed.
Dumberer was a theater flop, but Nichols turned heads with both her beauty (a known commodity at that point) and her acting skills, which were a surprise to all involved. If the Jessica role seemed natural to Nichols, it was because she herself had been an editor with the school newspaper back in Augusta. Apparently Hollywood noticed Nichols, too, because she has since earned roles in the television series Line of Fire, plus the 2005 horror movies The Amityville Horror and The Woods. Even after all that, though, the best was yet to come for Rachel Nichols.
In 2004, FOX planned to develop a show vaguely reminiscent of their first hit drama, 21 Jump Street. They enlisted Todd & Glenn Kessler (Robbery Homicide Division) to create the show, tentatively named The Inside. The Kesslers cast Nichols as a 22-year-old federal agent who impersonates a high-school girl in an undercover operation. They also cast Fastlane's Peter Facinelli and model Willa Holland, and shot a pilot. The pilot underwhelmed studio execs, though, and FOX brought in Tim Minear to re-tool the concept; Minear purged the entire cast, save for Nichols. While some sources say that Nichols was kept because FOX pressured Minear to do so, Minear stands by a different story: "even if [Nichols] wasn't already living in this show when I got there I'd have cast her. A star in the making, I feel. And an unspoiled delight..." he told Variety.
The new concept was more Silence of the Lambs than Jump Street, and Nichols' character had dramatically changed as well: now she was rookie Special Agent Rebecca Locke, assigned to Los Angeles' FBI Violent Crimes Unit. Oh, and the character practically shares Elizabeth Smart's backstory: kidnapping, abuse, etc. One may be tempted to think that Nichols, who says she "tests mostly for high school parts," might have been in over her head here, especially alongside character-actor luminary Peter Coyote, but she has handled herself expertly on the series. And while The Inside was cancelled just seven episodes in, Nichols is sure to be back as a full-fledged star, and soon.
On July 26, 2005, the ABC Network unveiled its programming for the fall of 2005. Among the cast changes, it was noted that Nichols will join the cast of Alias, possibly becoming Jennifer Garner's successor on that series, as Garner's pregnancy will prevent her from executing her usual stunts. It will mark another show in which Nichols portrays a government agent, this time for the CIA.