Meet Nicole Laeno, a 12-year-old dancer, actress, model, and blogger from Los Angeles.
Despite her young age, Nicole has already made notable accomplishments in her dancing career, including a BravO! solo championship and a Hollywood Vibe Dancer of the Year.
“Dancing is a blessing from God,” Nicole told NextShark. “I am grateful for the ability to dance.”
happiest when I’m dancing 😊 what makes you happy? … choreo: @nicolekirkland_ 💛 dancer: @nicolelaeno 💃🏻 song: #switch @6lack 🖤 please tag him ⤴️ video: @robfish_inc 🤑 place: @theplaygroundla … #nicolelaeno #nicolekirkland #inspiration #nicolekirklandchoreography #switch #love #switchchallenge #6lack #hiphop #dance #dancer
Born in Bellflower, California, Nicole first came to dancing at age 4.
But because she cried in almost every dance class, her mother, Linda, decided to pull her out.
groooovin’ 💃🏻 … choreo: @phil_wright_ 🤟🏼 dancers: @nicolelaeno song: #taste @kinggoldchains please tag him‼️⬆️ video: @robfish_inc 🎥 place: @theplaygroundla … #nicolelaeno #philwright #philwrightchoreo #love #theplaygroundla #kinggoldchains #tyga #dancer #dance #dancersofinstagram #hiphop @danceon #danceoninstagram
After playing soccer and joining the Girl Scouts, Nicole returned to dance classes at age 7.
She still cried in the beginning, but by the time it was over, she simply “fell in love” with the process.
✈️ leaving to Chicago in a few days for two weeks! does anyone know of any good dance studios or good places to visit? 🤔💛☺️ … choreo: @mattsteffanina 💪🏼 dancers: @nicolelaeno @jjhiphopdancer @meganskiendiel 💃🏻 song: #allmine @kanyewest @kimkardashian video: @monseeworld 🎥 location: @mdcdance … #nicolelaeno #mattsteffanina #mattsteffaninachoreo #kanyewest #kimkardashian #dance #dancer #pop #jazz #hiphop #kidsofinstagram #inspiration #jazzfunk #create #inspire #solo #training #dancersofinstagram #love #blessed #grateful #thankful #choreography
“I cried everyday but my mom told me to finish off the month and I could quit after. I was such a shy person that it made me so uncomfortable to fully get into it.
“By the end of the month something clicked and I started to enjoy it a little more so I stayed in dance and haven’t stopped since. I would say I’m still a little shy but dance has definitely given me more confidence than I never knew I could have.”
Nicole became the youngest member of the Advanced Fusion Competition Dance Team at the age of 9 and has since received numerous scholarships.
“Dancing has given me the confidence I never knew and has given opportunities I never imagined I could have. Dancing means to me endless possibilities to be anything I want to be.”
The young dancer also appeared in music videos for big acts such as Will.i.am, Black Eyed Peas, Us The Duo and Matt Steffanina, and danced with Mariah Carey for a holiday special on ABC.
She recalled working with Chris Brown as one of the highlights of her career.
“Chris Brown’s management team reached out to me to be in his Tempo music video. At first me and my mom wasn’t sure it was real but they sent out the rehearsal times and shoot days so we went on the first day not knowing what to expect. We opened the room and the first person that we saw was Chris Brown. He was so excited to see us and gave me a big hug. He said that he personally chose me to be in this video since he has reposted a few of my videos on Instagram. He also told me to hurry and grow up so I could tour with him.”
dreams do come true.. @chrisbrownofficial tempo music video is out 💙video in my bio. thank you @chrisbrownofficial @dancer_boysmith for believing in me. I’ll never forget this experience. 🙏🏼 @rivetingentertainment #tempotakeover #nicolelaeno #trust #godisgood #allthetime #grateful #blessed #thankful #inspire #love #family #support #dreamsdocometrue
“If that wasn’t enough, I soon learned that I was the youngest of two kids that were in the video. He was there every day and every minute of the rehearsal and shoot days. Usually when you work with an artist you may or may not see them during rehearsal, only when your actually shooting with him. Shortly after he reposted another video on mine on Instagram and said many kind words.
“Although I’ve been so fortunate to work on many different things, this one really stood out.”
Now, she dreams of working with Beyoncé.
“She is the Queen! She can do it all and still stay our of the public eye. I feel like I can relate to her because she’s more of a reserved person but when she goes on stage she becomes Sasha Fierce and that person takes over. That is how I feel when I perform.”
Nicole has also worked with H&M, Albion Fit, Flexi Lexi, Heely’s, and Sugar Reign as a model.
While always on the move, Nicole tries her best to maintain good grades and a healthy social life with the help of her family.
#happynationaldanceday ❤️ had to post cause I wanted to show my appreciation to the art that made a shy little girl break out of her shell and gave her the confidence she never knew she had. grateful, grateful for the ability to dance. shout out to @darrenleephotography for capturing all these moments in class! ❤️ #nicolelaeno #nationaldanceday #danceislifenite
“My family has everything to do with it. We make sure we prioritize what’s important in my life and to not lose focus of that. School has always been a priority for me so I make sure that my grades are up and I have a great relationship with my teachers. I try not to miss school unless I 100% have to. I’ve learned that having two friends is better than having 20 friends that aren’t real. I guess you learn that at a young age when you meet so many different people that don’t turn out to be your real friend.
“My family is everything to me so I make sure that I’m there to support my brother like he supports me and that I have time for church. Making sure school, my friends and family are in my life make having a dancing career possible.”
Born to a Vietnamese mother and a Filipino father, Nicole is proud to celebrate customs with her family — especially food.
“I would say I connect with both sides through food. My mom has learned to cook both styles of food so we are in tune in that aspect. Most of our celebrations involve some type of Vietnamese food or Filipino food.
“Although I can’t speak either fluently, I know what food to order at any Vietnamese or Filipino restaurant!”
I took a break this week and spent it with my family and friends. 😊 I am grateful for all the opportunities in my life but I’m even more grateful for the people in my life. 💙🙏🏼🦋 #nicolelaeno #balance #family #friends #springbreak #godisgood #allthetime #faith #love #thankful #grateful #blessings #inspire
🚫 cold hearted snake! 🚫🐍 #nope #beaware #stayaway … choreo: @blakemcgrath 💚 dancer: @nicolelaeno song: #coldheartedsnake @paulaabdul please tag her‼️⬆️ video: @timmilgram @tmillytv place: @westcoastdancethtr … #nicolelaeno #blakemcgrathchoreo #blakemcgrath #paulaabdul #love #coldheartedsnake #jazzfunk #solo @danceon #danceonnetwork #viralvideo #hesbeentellinglies #girldontplaythefool #dancewithjanet
💰🤑 💚🖤 would you rather be rich in money or rich in love? #lovewins … choreo: @mattsteffanina @alysonstoner🕺💃🏻 dancer: @nicolelaeno🧘🏻♀️ song: #dinero 💴 @jlo @iamcardib @djkhaled 🎶 video: @ryanparma 🎥 place: @idahollywood … #nicolelaeno #mattsteffanina #alysonstoner #hiphop #epicdancevideos #mattsteffaninachoreography #jlo #cardib #djkhaled #solo #latinvibes #love #dancersofinstagram #viralvideos @epicdancevideos
Needless to say, Nicole is a rising star to look out for on the dance floor.
She warns against comparison and encourages aspiring dancers to stay focused, learn from mistakes, and be nice.
“Many times we get caught up worrying about what everyone else is doing and we lose track of our own dreams. It’s hard to be this age and not be jealous and compare yourself to others. This industry is really hard and you don’t always meet the nicest people. Just remember the people that matter and those are the only opinions that should matter.
“Also, another person’s success should be an inspiration on what could be possible not a comparison on what you do and don’t have.”
“In dance class, focus and my biggest advice is don’t be too hard on yourself when you make mistakes. Learn from them and keep growing! That is the only way you’re going to get better. Oh and one more thing, be nice to everyone!”
Keep slaying, Nicole!
@danceon | 💛💚💙❤️ … choreo: @nicolelaeno dancer: @nicolelaeno song: @arlissa_xx @jonasblue #heartsaintgonnalie please TAG them‼️⬆️ video: @lindalaeno … #nicolelaeno #nicolelaenochoreo #dance #dancer #hiphop #heartsaintgonnalie #arlyssa #jonasblue #kidsofinstagram #inspiration #jazzfunk #create #inspire #contemporary #dancersofinstagram #love #blessed #grateful #thankful #choreography #danceon #create #danceonnetwork
Images via Instagram / @nicolelaeno