When it was time to begin casting actors for roles in the Into the Wilderness movie, Director Richard DeWitt along with Producers Michael Candela and Ev Stanton had many tough decisions to make when it was time to choose the right actors to portray the characters on film. One of the many roles they desperately needed to ensure was filled by the right actress was the role of Walks With Wind who is a Cherokee medicine woman, and when actress Nikki Cozart walked through the audition doors, they knew they had hit a goldmine. Not only did she knock the lines out of the ballpark, but she had the exact look the team wanted for this character.

 Many of you may recognize Nikki Cozart from past guest star roles on popular hit shows like Law and Order: Special Victims Unit, House of Cards or America’s Most Wanted. She has also been in numerous commercials and Indie films.

Cozart plays the lead role of Abby Kelner in the new television series, Thespian which was released this month on Amazon Video and she has several upcoming television shows and films coming out in the next year.

Watch the trailer for Thespian on Vimeo here:

Nikki sat down with writer Angela Caito a few days ago to talk about the Into the Wilderness movie, working with her real-life dad, actor Cylk Cozart and to give a little insight on her life. Cylk Cozart has starred in more than 30 television shows and movies including Conspiracy Theory, White Men Can’t Jump and The Last Movie Star.

Nikki Cozart and her dad, actor Cylk Cozart met in person just last year, and while Nikki had already been acting for a decade prior to meeting her dad, little did she know that acting was essentially embedded in her very DNA.  

“I started acting when I was 20. Acting was in my genes, but I didn’t know why until I met my dad!”

  Photo Credit: Angela Caito- Actress Nikki Cozart with Cylk Cozart on location with the Into the Wilderness movie

Photo Credit: Angela Caito- Actress Nikki Cozart with Cylk Cozart on location with the Into the Wilderness movie

Cozart heard about the Into the Wilderness movie when the Knoxville News Sentinel published an article letting local Tennessee actors know about an open casting call.  She said that an hour or so after the casting call hit the newspapers, Cylk Cozart called her to tell her she needed to go audition.

When asked why her role was important to her as well as what made her character different than her, Cozart responded with,

“First of all, I think it’s really cool that I get to play a character from my own heritage. For the longest time, I didn’t know everything about who I was and where I came from since I had not met my dad.”

She went on to say,

“Walks with Wind is very poised and in control and when I was younger, I was not like that at all, but after having kids, I gained that! It was suddenly like, God give me patience and he gave me that control I needed!”

Cozart also mentioned that she loves to be outdoors and being able to film outside in the woods was fun. Her biggest challenge with the role was having to wear a thin, summer time outfit when it was 40 degrees outside. If you have never been in the Great Smoky Mountains during the fall, you may find it interesting that 40 degrees can feel like twenty below zero with wind chill, especially if you don’t have a heavy jacket to wear.

Nikki is also the owner of Fit Diesel, a Knoxville based company that teaches active shooter countermeasure training as well as other law enforcement and military training programs and health and fitness for all levels. She credits her husband Matt who is also the Executive Director and lead instructor of Fit Diesel with giving her his full support and being the best husband and father as he not only works with the family business, but he also takes care of the kids when she is away to film.

She said,

“Matt is the best father! I know I am biased, but he stepped up as he was this big tough man’s man who worked for the government performing counter-terrorism missions and training agents and suddenly, he’s a stay at home father, changing diapers and raising two boys while also running a business! I am so thankful to have his support in my career!”

While Cozart is a very devoted wife and mother, she is also an incredibly talented actress and the wilderness movie team has been fortunate to have her join the cast.

There is no doubt that Nikki Cozart played a crucial role in the Into the Wilderness movie and fans will be happy to know they can look forward to seeing her on the big screen as well as on television in several upcoming projects she has on the horizon.

Be sure to keep up with actress Nikki Cozart and her work on IMDb and as always, stay on top of all things wilderness right here on our blog!  

Angela Caito