Nicole DuBois was an aspiring actress from Massachusetts when the COVID-19 pandemic began. Suddenly finding herself locked at home with limited acting opportunities, she followed the rest of the world online.
A long time romantic-comedy film fan, DuBois began writing and recording original skits satirizing the popular genre. Soon after she began this creative endeavor, she found herself with thousands of followers on TikTok.
Now with a following of 886,000 on this platform alone, the writer-actress found herself in a position she never thought she would be in–she was suddenly an influencer.
DuBois recalled the surreal feeling of achieving her childhood dreams. “I’ve been acting since I was little. I was convinced I was going to be an Oscar award-winning dramatic actress, and then I found out I was actually just funny. So I started doing sketch comedy and writing skits in my college years,” said DuBois.
After moving to Los Angeles from Massachusetts, the comedienne realized just how competitive the scene was. “When I got to LA, I realized ‘I’m going to have to start making my own stuff if I want to be acting’, because it’s so competitive. I had a very unsuccessful YouTube page for a couple of years, and then found TikTok a couple of weeks before the pandemic,” said DuBois.
It was her combined experiences in acting, writing, and internet culture that inspired her to write and star in her debut film “Magic Carpet Rides” on Tubi.
The film follows DuBois as an influencer (of course) living through the many rom-com tropes of fake dating, celebrity romances, and grand gestures. The sharp writing is complete with numerous TikTok linguistic nods that Gen Z viewers can appreciate.
Throughout DuBois’ career, she has gleaned inspiration from several sources. “I was very into the 2000s romcoms, and then also watching them now with the perspective we have in 2023, you also recognize how silly a lot of it is, because the world has changed so much,” said DuBois. “There’s a lot that’s pretty easy to make fun of, but make fun of it in a loving way. I enjoy the genre so much.”
“I started making a lot of romcom parodies on TikTok, and I realized people want to see me play this romcom girl character. My comment section made it very clear that that’s what they want to see,” said DuBois.
The star added, “When I started actually planning this rom-com, it was this really fun moment of giving the people what they want, but now I’m not making fun of it. Now, I’m actually trying to make something that they want to watch in 2023. So hopefully a bunch of Tiktoks won’t come out making fun of the movie, but if they do, I guess I deserve it.”
The Creative Process
Much of the film’s plot centers on the real-life themes DuBois and her cast mates have encountered in the past three years. “A lot of the influencer scenes are definitely inspired by things that I’ve seen or experienced coming up as an accidental influencer. I never set out to be one. One minute, I’m a comedian and an actress, and then ‘oh my gosh, what happened? I’m an influencer.’ But the influencer world is really crazy, really interesting, and very dramatic,” said DuBois.
She continued saying, “It’s just so silly, but when you’re in it, it seems so serious. So I definitely took a lot of that and put it into the film.”
The filming process consisted of almost entirely overnight shoots. The comedienne realized that for her next project, she wants to incorporate more daylight hours into the storyline.
“It was a lot. It almost felt like camp, because everyone was together through the night filming, and then we’d go home and sleep in the day. One of my favorite days on set was also one of the hardest days on set, because we were filming on swan boats. So we were filming outside the entire day, and it was 104 degrees, and we were filming this high energy physical comedy scene. The person working the hardest on that set is the makeup artist dabbing our sweat in between,” emphasized DuBois.
Despite the heat, DuBois feels that the less than ideal working conditions got the cast’s improv skills going just in time. “It just gets to this point where you’re so hot, you’re so tired that everyone just hits this level of silly, and I think that’s my favorite scene in the movie after the edit. The improv got so silly that it’s just the wackiest scene,” said DuBois.
The WGA Strike
DuBois co-wrote and produced “Magic Carpet Rides” with director Matt Thompson, casting the film’s characters herself as well. Many of the cast members were fellow actors turned accidental influencers.
Because she kept the production close to home, it was not affected by the ongoing WGA strike. DuBois expressed gratitude for finding a different creative outlet amid shutdowns of Hollywood’s most powerful studios.
“It’s definitely an interesting position to be in, because I am not in the WGA yet, but I want to be. I’m fully in support of the strike. Still being able to write for yourself and make your own money and be in control of your own content online is a really great outlet for when the studios are letting you down and refusing to pay you, or not paying a livable wage at all,” said DuBois.
She continued saying, “I think it’s a good outlet to be able to put your stuff online and self-produce, and if they won’t pay you for your work, pay yourself for your work.”
Amid difficult times in the entertainment industry, DuBois hopes “Magic Carpet Rides” will allow viewers to sit back and relax.
“I hope people laugh. I hope they have fun watching it. There is a theme of the movie that nobody’s really right. Everyone has their own perspective and everyone lives their life differently, and nobody is actually right. But really, if you don’t take that away from the film, it’s fine if you just laugh, and if you just love the romance and get connected to the love story, and just feel good after watching it,” she concluded.