I remember first meeting Nikki Weiss and Jill Goldstein via my television set back in the summer of 2010. They were the perfectly glam engaged couple seen planning their Malibu wedding… and not much else. Well, boy has a lot transpired since Season One of The Real L Word! Over the last two years, they have filmed and edited their own mini-episodes (known as Flip Friday) for fans who wished to see their favorite RLW couple continue their regular lives, post-Showtime. As documented in the nearly 80 episodes of Flip Friday, Nikki and Jill have since married, become close friends with Cori & Kaci (of Season Two) and are now expecting their first child together, due on their second wedding anniversary, October 9, 2012. They’ve also remained loyal and steadfast Autostraddle fans, even reading from an Autostraddle Real L Word recap at their wedding and doing a Flip Friday with Riese & Alex.
Nikki & Jill’s love story dates back to 1984, where they met at (where else?) CAMP!, when Nikki was dating Jill’s older brother for a few summers. Nikki grew up to be the founder of Nikki Weiss & Co, where she represents leading directors in the commercial and feature film world while Jill’s background in marketing and advertising on Madison Avenue helped her transition into a full-time career as a commercial treatment writer. Jill’s writing can also be found in her Curve Magazine fitness column and in scripts for various award shows.
I chatted with the fab couple about camp, their impending major life change, finding an anonymous sperm donor, the upcoming election, their Real L Word comrades, whether they would do Reality TV again and how Nikki would fix the Oprah Winfrey Network and our favorite guilty pleasure, Smash.
Are you prepared for all the life changes that are about to happen?
JILL: It feels as if it comes out of nowhere! We were just discussing that last night funnily enough. . . We’re putting the house on the market, we’re moving and we’re having a baby. There’s so many changes happening concurrently. Nik had a moment in the kitchen last night where she jokingly asked me, “how did I get here?”
NIKKI: What happened to my gorgeous bachlorette house and my convertible car?! My whole life has changed! You just don’t see it coming. But I wouldn’t have it any other way now! We literally put the house on the market yesterday, I’m having heart palpitations but it’s exciting.
Do you plan on finding out the sex of the baby beforehand?
NIKKI: Well, at the time of the Curve article we didn’t know the sex of the baby because it was before the 12th week but we DO know the sex of the baby now! You’re generally not able to find out the sex until the 20th week. Well, fortunately for us our baby is really well endowed so we found out at our 12 week ultrasound!
Oh! Do you want to make it an Autostraddle exclusive?
NIKKI: You can have the exclusive on the baby boy.
That’s so cute!
NIKKI: We’re so excited I can’t even tell you. There is so much “girl” in this house so we are really excited to have a boy. He is gonna understand women so well… we are gonna put a nice gentleman into the world.
Nikki, did you ever have the desire to be pregnant?
No, I can’t say I ever had the desire to carry but I’ve always had the desire to parent. It really wasn’t until I met Jill that I wanted to parent with someone else.
And Jill did you always want to carry?
JILL: Yes, it wasn’t on constantly on my mind throughout my twenties when I clearly wasn’t ready for it, but it was always something I knew I would do one day, or hoped I would do one day.
NIKKI: You just didn’t know you’d be doing it with another lady! [laughing]
JILL: True! Nikki was perfectly fine with me carrying, so it was kind of a no-brainer decision.
NIKKI: But I thank her every day, Jess. I’m like, “thank you for doing this for us” because I can’t imagine what it must feel like to lose control of your body, really. Especially for somebody like Jill who is so athletic and so in control of that. It’s so important to her. I just thank her every day.
Were you very strict with your diet pre-pregnancy?
JILL: Not strict per se, but I have very healthy eating habits in general… And nothing really changed too much, I just consume a little bit more now.
NIKKI: During the first trimester this child was eating bagels like it was going out of style.
JILL: Well, I was so nauseous! But I didn’t have to change many eating habits. I think I was in pretty good shape going into the pregnancy because I was healthy beforehand, it’s just a matter of thinking bit more carefully about what you’re eating because you are eating for someone else now and need to have x, y, z in your diet everyday… this amount of calcium and this amount of protein… so you do need to be more responsible about what you’re putting in your body and how often.
Did you have any pre-pregnancy anxiety about how it would effect your body and workout regimen?
JILL: The honest answer is yes. Obviously, fitness is very important to me and I enjoy it so much, so it was a big proposition to decide that for the next 9 months my workout regimen is going to take a bit of a backseat while I give up control of my body. I basically had a conversation with myself where I decided that I’m taking the next year of my life and becoming totally and utterly selfless, making it about something and someone else. It’s definitely been a shift — I’m watching my stomach grow every day and view that as beautiful now versus wanting to get a more defined six pack. What I consider to be beautiful has changed. But because I enjoy fitness, I spoke to my doctors at length and am working out under their care… I think pregnancy is a very easy time to just say “eff it” and let it go but I want to be healthy and fit so I still exercise as often as I’m allowed to… it’s just at a different intensity and frequency now.
NIKKI: She’s still got rockin’ arms and sick legs. She looks gorgeous.
What was your reaction when you found out the baby is due on your wedding anniversary?
NIKKI: I’ve been Flipping, filming this, since day one just to have the footage for ourselves and for Flip Fridays… and I also made a film for our parents so they wouldn’t miss any part of the journey. When the doctors told us the due date our reaction was, “Oh my God. October 9th was the happiest day of our lives and now it’s going to be all over again… if he comes on that date.” It really is B’shert as we say in Yiddish. It’s meant to be.
JILL: I second that. I think between being blessed that it worked on our first try and then hearing that we’re due on our anniversary we kind of looked at each other and thought, “Wow, this really is meant to be.”
NIKKI: We always thought when we were going through the insemination process our baby will choose to come to us when he or she is ready. We really were stress free about that. We truly believed it.
I’m curious what your deal-breakers and must-haves were in choosing an anonymous donor?
NIKKI: It took us four months to decide on a donor and I think for both of us the health history was extremely important. You end up knowing more about this donor’s health history than you would about your own spouse’s! We extensively went through these medical records — cancers, genetic diseases, things like that. We also wanted a donor that came across as a kind, gentle, loving person with good ethics, someone who was close with their family was important to us…. someone who was artistic and athletic was also really important. So many of those traits come from nurture, not necessarily nature, but it was very appealing to recognize them in the donor.
JILL: After the first few things were checked off our list, with health history being the most important, then we looked at physical characteristics. The cryobank allowed us to send in a picture of Nikki and they furnished us with donor profiles that had similar features to her, which was wonderful.
NIKKI: Like green eyes, fair skin, straight hair. So he doesn’t look like the milk man’s child, you know? [laughing]
JILL: So the main thing was to find someone healthy who had Nik’s features. Then we were able to listen to audio interviews to get a sense of this person’s demeanor. And we came across a gentleman who was compassionate, articulate, soft-spoken and just very impressive to us overall. Once we arrived there, it became kind of fun for us because we would go back and forth just trading features — like “I’ll give you artistic if you give me athletic!” [laughing] Kind of a bargaining system.
NIKKI: Because of course I want him to grow up to be a fabulous A-level film director and Jill would like him to be a professional athlete. What was really interesting and affirming to us that we picked the right donor is when we asked to get additional health testing done — which he didn’t have to participate in if he didn’t want to — but he did it right away and turned it around within like a 24 hour period. He’d already fulfilled everything he needed to do with the cyrobank but went the extra mile anyway and it reaffirmed why we choose him.
Can you talk about the adoption process Nikki is going through?
NIKKI: What’s concerning to us is that people who are fortunate to have gay marriage legalized in their state don’t realize that it’s still not enough to protect you and your spouse. Issues like taxes, estate taxes, parenting, health care… nothing is implemented unless you specifically hire an attorney, an estate planner and in our case, an adoption attorney as well to put together these legal documents. Gay marriage is basically a false sense of security because it’s not recognized federally. I think that couples don’t realize that the minute they leave their state or even the country their rights are challenged. Just because you’re legally married in New York has no bearing if you move to another state that doesn’t recognize marriage. So, it becomes really important to put your affairs in order and one of those affairs for us was to make sure I was legally adopting the baby. My understanding is that they do a full background check on me: they will have me fingerprinted, they will do a case study and come to my home. It’s disheartening in one sense but I respect the adoption process in general and so I understand why they have to do it… but still it’s upsetting. But then once the baby is born and all those documents are in place I would go to court for the finalization of everything. We’re starting the process ahead of time so that everything is approved once the baby is here and my adoption is fully legalized.
What do you think of Obama coming out in support of gay marriage? There is some press saying it may cost him the election.
JILL: I think it was a tremendously positive step in the right direction. It’s obviously historical with him being the first president to come out in support and think it will help shape the discussion that we’re having as a country. But, I also think it’s risky. I think the unfortunate part about it is he still believes that it should be a state issue, which is where we encounter challenges. I believe there are around 30 states where it’s banned now. So, until this is recognized federally it’s just going to be a constant battle because as she was explaining, your rights are only protected so far and once you leave the state they are challenged. So, I think it’s a great start. It scares me that it would cost him the election… that so many people would use that as a point to turn away from him. I always say that if you don’t believe in gay marriage, if your religion doesn’t allow you to accept these kinds of relationships, so be it. That’s your opinion and I respect your opinion. But where do you then get the right to tell the rest of us how to live our lives? Show some respect back.
How do you think the election is going to go in November?
NIKKI: I really hope that Obama wins for so many reasons but I have no idea. I think this country is a mess.
Let’s lighten it up a little and talk about camp! I know you two have a special connection to camp since that is where you first met when you were little kids. What are your best memories from camp growing up?
NIKKI: Oh my god, so many! We talk about it all the time. Jill and I still sing the songs and do the hand claps. It’s so bizarre that we have the same memories. Some of my favorite include the surprise scooter pies that we would get for dessert and color war when they split the camp into teams for a week.
JILL: At the time when I was 8 years old and Nikki was 12. I thought she was the oldest, coolest person on the planet. Nik and her friends knew everything. Back when she was going out with my older brother she would treat me like her little sister during lunch hour… We’d have rest hour after lunch where we’d write letters home and I remember Nik used to come to my bunk to see me and we’d write letters home together. I loved her attention.
NIKKI: I don’t know if you guys know this but my mom has saved everything I’ve done… being an only child… she has saved all of the letters I sent her. We have one that Jill sent to her and another which was her brother’s break-up letter to me, which we ended up reading at our wedding — from like 1985! It pretty much read: “Dear Nicole. I want to break up with you. Last year and the year before that you were nice but this year you’re not.” I mean…..
JILL: The best line of that break up letter was, “I know if I went out with other girls I’d have a good time.”
NIKKI: And then he ended the letter “see ya!” I was devastated!! I wore his ID bracelet for three summers, he was my boyfriend, we held hands, you know!? I was devastated. But I still kept Jill as my little camp sister.
I can’t believe you read it at the wedding. That’s hilarious. I want to talk a little about your writing for various award shows. Which shows did you write for this past year?
JILL: The last shows I worked on were in 2010 and 2011. I did red carpet shows at the American Music Awards and The Independent Spirit Awards. This year my work has been focused on writing for Commercial Directors, for NBC where I work closely with their branded content department and for Curve Magazine with my fitness column.
Is there anything we would recognize?
JILL: A lot of what I write is behind the scenes. I’m sort of what they call a “ghost writer” for directors. Directors put together written and visual presentations, called treatments, when they are working on a presentation for advertising agencies and I help them create it. I have a background in advertising. The only thing you might ever see publicly as of now are my fitness articles. But I pitch ideas to NBC often so one of these days, fingers crossed, I will get something produced on television.
We’ll get into The Real L Word in a little bit, but what are you guys watching, reading or listening to these days?
Smash is such a guilty pleasure.
NIKKI: It is. I wish the writing was better. I wish the casting was better. There’s so many things but I have high hopes for season two.
How would you change it if you were the showrunner?
NIKKI: If I was the showrunner, I would definitely recast the husband and son of Debra Messing. That is so difficult to watch. I mean look, I’m sure the actors are wonderful. I’m just talking about their roles on the show. And then I also would recast Anjelica Huston’s love interest because that relationship is too implausible to watch. There’s a lot of cliche dialogue. But I love Megan Hilty. And I think art imitates life with Debra Messing and her costar because they both actually left their spouses to be together. Did you know that?
I knew that they were dating. I was sort of under the impression that Debra Messing and her husband had split up and then she started dating Will Chase.
NIKKI: They say that in the press, but you know…
JILL: I entertain a lot of Nik’s shows and I get to watch mine — mostly when she falls asleep at night. (laughs) I think Modern Family is truly the best show on television. It’s just so smart and so funny.
NIKKI: And we both entertain the big, big, big, guilty pleasure — Jersey Shore.
JILL: Oh, gosh, yes, embarrassingly so.
NIKKI: I loved Vinny so much. I was really surprised by his choice of lesbians in bed though. I think he could have done much better [laughs].
What do you make of that whole thing? I don’t believe he slept with those girls.
NIKKI: I don’t think that he did either. But I think that was just fun for the show.
Do you guys watch Girls?
NIKKI: Yes! And I meant to say something about Girls. Jill and I have a hard time with that. I feel like I’m watching Napoleon Dynamite. I want it to be maybe more Sex in the City than it is. Maybe I’m out of touch.
JILL: I like it… I haven’t actually seen the last few episodes but the writing is so honest and so in your face it’s impossible NOT to find it funny. I mean, she is so clever and the things that they discuss are so raw, which I think is what’s so appealing about it. She’s unapologetic for who she is and it’s fantastic. (to Nikki) I think maybe you have an issue a little bit with the style of it.
NIKKI: No, I don’t have trouble with the style. I think I struggle with…I feel like it’s forced. I’m probably the only person on the planet that feels like this and, you know what, I should try to watch it again.
I remember reading in an interview with Lena Dunham that the show is about the girls who moved to New York thinking it was going to be like Sex in the City, but this is the real experience.
NIKKI: Right. Yeah.
And I think that the style of the show reflects that. You know, just like completely de-glamorized.
NIKKI: I haven’t given it enough of a chance. I really haven’t.
Check out Tiny Furniture if you haven’t yet…
JILL: Listen, I tip my hat to her. I mean she is young and so successful. The fact that she’s writing, directing and producing and staring in a show on HBO at what… 25? It’s remarkable. You know, I’m rooting for her. I think it’s a huge accomplishment and a rare one.
When you were deciding about whether to go on The Real L Word, was it a consideration about how that might negatively impact your career?
NIKKI: Yeah… I had a lot of reservations about it and chose not to have my clients on film. There was one commercial shoot that I got access to go to with our cameras and it never made it on the screen, which in hindsight I’m very thankful about. You know, I tried to keep my work life separate, which it ended up being because you never really saw any of it.
Would you do reality TV again?
NIKKI: If I was producing it I would. (laughs) But no, we have no aspirations to be on the show again. I would never do a reality show again unless I was producing. There’s no way. I would never give up editing control to someone else again. (laughs)
What did you think of the second season?
JILL: Obviously we still have close relationships with some of the girls. So as friends we are cheering for them and like to see them do their thing and do it well. From that standpoint it was fun to watch. Of course it was also beautiful in many ways, a heartfelt story with Cori and Kacy. We were fortunate enough to meet and befriend them after season two. They are now good friends and we adore them so certainly a lot of good has come out of that for us.
Story-wise… I guess I wish they kept it a bit more on the high road. I know what people want to see and I know that sex sells. That’s what makes reality TV so appealing, the kind of the drama and salaciousness. But I think that there’s enough negative stereotypes around the lifestyle that I don’t think there’s a strong reason to spoon-feed it. And some of that might have been done. Not all of it. As I said, some of the stories were wonderful — a lot of positive messaging. But on the flipside I don’t know that highlighting SO much sex, partying or promiscuity really helped change any perspectives out there in a positive way. I would hope for a bigger sense of responsibility with this kind of a platform.
Do you think that you are going to watch the upcoming season?
NIKKI: You know, it’s funny. We love Cori and Kacy and, obviously, Whitney and Sara…
JILL: I have a love/hate relationship with it (laughs). Like I said, it’s fun to watch your friends’ stories and see them succeed… I just wish the show were a bit different.
NIKKI: It could have been. But, you know, it’s people that we know and love so I’m sure we will watch it.
I remember as the first season was airing the original cast [Whitney, Rose, Tracy and Stamie] was posting all of these fun videos of you guys hanging out — doing brunch or going bowling, etc. It really seemed like you guys had formed a little posse. Was there a falling out among the group?
NIKKI: I think that everybody just has their lives going on now. We went through an experience together. I think the unfortunate part of Season One is that they never introduced the cast to one another. We all filmed separately for all those months. It was a very secretive cast so we never connected during production. And finally when we all met each other it was like “Oh, wow. We all shared this experience. Wasn’t it anxiety ridden? Wasn’t it exciting?” And I think that we all bonded over it as a group when it was prominent in our lives. But throughout the last two and a half, three years… life just happens. We all have different interests and schedules. And for Jill and me, our interest right now is starting a family.
JILL: It was very easy in the beginning because we had such a strong commonality and we were going through this experience together. At that time the show was very prevalent in our lives. I think that as the show has gotten farther and farther from our world… like Nik said, you just kind of get back to your life a little bit, and then it takes more effort, in fact, to maintain relationships. But we have very special friendships with some of the girls. We can go a month and not see them, but then the minute we do, we all pick up right where we left off.
NIKKI: We’re close to Cori and Kacy. Obviously we all have common interests.
What has been the greatest thing to come out of doing the show?
NIKKI: Two things I would say. I think it allowed us a platform to be proponents for marriage equality. So that’s been tremendously powerful for us.
JILL: I think that any positive influence you can have on other women or people around the world in taking the fear out of same-sex relationships and showing that they can be blossoming, fulfilling and wonderful things is a tremendously positive outcome. So being able to help any women, if we were able to do that, has been the most rewarding thing. And, like I said, some of the friendships we developed with the cast have been very special to us.
NIKKI: We also have this Facebook fan page that has touched so many women around the globe and helped so many people. They feel like they are part of our world and since they had or have similar stories, they are able to comfortably share their fears and their dreams on our page. We really made a little safe, supportive community, which I think was much more successful for us as opposed to the show. I think that’s where we really made a mark on people’s lives, especially through our videos and being responsive on the fan page. And there have been so many love stories on our fan page where people have met from different states, even countries, and ended up falling in love and moving in together.
JILL: There’s like five I can think of off the top of my head — who are happily together, they’ve been together for two, three years. It’s crazy. I think our story and maybe our page just sort of attracts a certain group of women.
NIKKI: They’re really kind and…
JILL: Yeah, there’s a lot of family and relationship values present. We were the wedding story, we were the relationship story and now we’re the baby story. So the women that tend to follow us are either in those life stages or place tremendous value on those things.
I think it’s also a continuation of the people who fell in love with Bette and Tina from The L Word.
JILL: Yes. The women who are going to clubs and parties, very understandably so, are not tremendously interested in what Nik and I are up to. [laughs] Then again, they probably weren’t the ones who liked us when we were on the show.
It’s amazing. I mean there is nothing more powerful or more rewarding than getting an e-mail from somebody who says that you helped give them the strength to step out of a life they had been living that wasn’t right or authentic, and inspired them to walk towards something that was more truthful. I can’t tell you… to hear someone tell you that you played a role in changing their life… it’s chilling. And it was all inadvertent, really. Certainly I don’t feel like I’ve done anything different than anybody else, but to think that someone was that greatly affected by me and the way I live my life, I can’t think of any compliment more beautiful.
Isn’t that what life is ultimately about? That’s why people have children, so that they can make some sort of positive imprint on somebody else’s life, teach them something.
JILL: Absolutely. Everybody goes about their day in this world and you just never know how you conduct yourself or how something you might do might affect somebody else. You put it perfectly. Really that’s what it’s all about.
Is there a rising filmmaker we should keep an eye on?
NIKKI: Well, there’s a director that I represent. His name is Albert Kodagolian. I’ve repped him for ten years and we are working with William Morris Endeavor right now to find him the right script for his feature debut and I think he is definitely one to watch.
Are there any upcoming films that you know of that have been shot and have a lot of buzz around them? Or a script that’s in development that you are really excited about?
NIKKI: Steve Carell’s next film (Dogs of Babel) is going to be amazing and that’s one of the scripts that I tried to get for Albert. It could be Steve Carell’s Oscar nomination. I think he’s going to get a lot of attention for this film. It’s really powerful, in a “Dan In Real Life” kind of way. There’s an endearing quality to it. I think this will be a nice vehicle for him. I don’t really rep many ‘up and coming’ directors. The directors I have on my roster are all established A-level filmmakers. I represent people from Paul Haggis to Martin Campbell, Barry Levinson, Antoine Fuqua and David O. Russell.
What has been the biggest risk you’ve taken in your career?
NIKKI: Probably opening up my company’s doors at age 21. [laughs] I had been working for a man out of New York and then I was like, “You know what? I know I can do this. I know I can do this for myself.” And I just went for it. I think that was the biggest risk I’ve ever taken. But I guess I had nothing to lose either because I was so young and naive. Knock on wood, I’ve been so lucky in my career. I really love what I do. I have great clients. I’m still passionate about the film making process. I’ve been so fortunate. I wouldn’t change anything.
The state of Oprah Winfrey’s network (OWN) has been very well played out in the press. What would you say has been her biggest mistake with the network?
NIKKI: This is interesting. I can tell you truly, in my opinion, her biggest mistake was that she put people in charge at the Oprah Winfrey Network that she worked with for many years, most of whom have no experience running a network. She should have taken somebody that has a seasoned track record from any network to start hers and instead she put people in power over who were executive producers of The Oprah Winfrey Show and that’s just not the way to go. I will say that network is stuck in a vacuum. They really need to open up their world to other ideas for shows. You can’t just have the Oprah Winfrey Showtype show as all of your programming on the network. It’s not going to survive. Everything is very Oprah-fied and you really need diverse programming, even if you have a message for your channel.
So, finally, I know you guys are Madonna superfans… favorite Madonna song or album?
NIKKI : Well, I’ve been singing “Lucky Star” to my lovely wife’s tummy every morning. Okay, little known fact: Jill and I drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles when Jill was moving here and we listened to Madonna non-stop for seven hours and did not repeat one song. That’s how crazy we are as fans — we have ALL of Madonna’s music.
JILL: I like the Ray of Light album. I’m a big fan of the song “Power of Goodbye.”
NIKKI: I love the duet she did with Justin Timberlake [“4 Minutes”]. I love every Madonna song. I love all of them and, in fact, Jill was at the Golden Globes this year and was two inches from Madonna and practically fell over.
JILL: Can we talk about that?
JILL: Oh my god. I mean you live in Los Angeles, you work in this business, you do see famous people and you kind of get desensitized to it. I… my knees were giving out when I saw her. She was about three feet away from me and I lost my sense of self. I couldn’t… it was so overwhelming [laughs]. She’s beautiful. She’s tiny. Yeah. It was pretty powerful to see her in person after loving her for 25 years.
And Flip Friday will finally be returning this week?
NIKKI: Yes! We’ve be on hiatus since we’ve gotten pregnant so it’s the first one back. And it’s exciting because it’s us finding out that we are pregnant.
JILL: Yeah, we took a long break from doing that. Work definitely got a little crazy and we did a bit of traveling with family but I would say, primarily, my first trimester was rough and I was not feeling well for weeks on end. So, I mean, there was nothing to film… if you wanted to watch me lying in the fetal position on the couch that would have been Flip Friday. And then, of course, I started showing a little bit and we’re like “we can’t film anything.” (laughs) But it’s back and it will be our “baby diaries.”