Editor’s Note: Five years ago we had an idea. Being a woman-owned publication, it made sense to celebrate women who were making a difference in the industries we cover. So, we started a feature for Women’s History Month called “Reel Women.” Over the last four years, we have gotten to know leaders, mentors and visionaries from a variety of creative industries. This is our 5th Annual REEL WOMEN. For the month of March, let us introduce you to some very special women like classically trained dancer, vocalist, actor and filmmaker, NK Gutiérrez.
NK Gutiérrez has excelled in nearly every facet of entertainment, from HBO Latino to The Oprah Winfrey Show, classically trained dancer, vocalist, actor and filmmaker. Most recently booking recurring roles in Showtime’s The Chi, NBC’s Chicago Fire and her 4th run of the hit show, La Gringa, at the 2022 Puerto Rican International Theater Festival in San Juan.
Gutiérrez made her filmmaking debut with the short film, The Last New Year, in which she wrote, produced and starred. Latina Magazine called it “A hilarious and relatable story of sexual liberation, self-care and empowerment, with women of color at the center.” All Things NK Productions is currently working to turn TLNY into an episodic while NK also finishes her first feature length script, Las Palabras, a story that centers around a young Afro-Latina woman navigating a world where she straddles the color line. After six years of principal photography, NK is happily in post production with her first feature length documentary, How do You Grind, which explores the various cultural celebrations of coffee and the unifying effect of this little sacred bean! HDYG? Is set to premiere, Fall 2023.
NK is in the business of consciously creating equitable and just community through the lens of heart centered living. She puts her BA in Psychology, Mental Health First Aid and Consent certifications to use as an Intimacy Coordinator on film & TV sets as well as teaching mindful employee care practices in the corporate and nonprofit space.
NK’s super power is galvanizing community for Good and shares this through foundational mindset and movement coaching and programming. In 2017, NK deepened her roots in the space of body activism and social justice through her athleisure line THICKLETIC, which works to elevate the ideology around wellness inclusivity by cultivating conversation, clothing and community. In 2019, Gutiérrez ran the Marathon in Havana, Cuba where she took down 200 care packages to Cuban women in need that were donated by the Chicago THICKLETIC community.
Gutiérrez currently serves as the co-chair of the Black Harvest Film Festival at the Gene Siskel Film Center, Head of Programming for the XL Festival and Co-lead of the Film Club at Soho House Chicago.
Let’s meet NK.
What’s your origin story?
I was born and raised in Topeka, KS. Upon high school graduation I studied Psychology and Fashion at University of Central Missouri in Warrensburg, MO and Tech de Monterrey in Cuernavaca, Morelos, Mexico. I moved to Chicago to pursue theater and intern at Neiman Marcus. I eventually studied Shakespeare and Contemporary Theater in London at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama then returned to Chicago to act, write and produce film and television.
How did you get into film industry?
I am a multidisciplinary artist. Each pathway into the various industries I occupy all started with education. Whenever I venture into something new, whether it’s an industry or a market, I always start with getting in community and taking class. I believe that study is the big sister of success!
Who were your mentors?
I’ve been blessed to be mentored by so many greats throughout my career. I’ll break it down by industry with the top three that helped shape my journey:
Film: Morocco Omari: Rocc’s sage words of advice that I will forever treasure, “While you’re waiting you should be creating.” These words were the catalyst that propelled me into filmmaking. Rocc showed me that I had the power to create and that I was worthy of calling my own shots!
Fashion: Danita Orr. She was my first boss for whom I interned at Neiman Marcus. She took me under her wing when I was a baby fresh out of University and helped me make decisions that ultimately shaped my career in the fashion industry.
Fitness: Maurice McBryde. He saw something in me, invested his time and his love and helped me find my inner athlete while training me for pageants. He created an unstoppable bulldog in a ballgown and THICKLETIC would not have been possible without him being the mirror that showed me the fight I had within.
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
Finding gratitude in the Now. Amongst all of the things that I’ve done, learning to live in and love the now is by far the most difficult and treasured of my accomplishments.
What drives you to create?
I am committed to being the voice I did not have growing up. I create stories and community in the way in which I desire to experience the world.
Award you crave, but haven’t won?
I will EGOT.
What shows/movies/songs are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?
And Just Like That
Never Have I Ever
To All the Boys I Loved Before
Everything Everywhere All at Once
The Girl Before
Mare of Easttown
I May Destroy You
From my perspective, there is no greater strength than the divine feminine, therefore, showing women in their complexity is showing women in their inherent strength.
Is there still a boys club in your industry?
The patriarchy is alive and well in any space in which we search. I acknowledge it, then I make it my stepping stone.
Name a famous woman (living or dead) you would like to attend each function with
Coffee: Ceila Cruz
Lunch: Maya Angelou
Happy Hour: First Lady Michelle Obama & Oprah, together!
Last year, the Supreme Court ruled against Roe v Wade. If you oppose the decision, what can women in your industry do to defend a woman’s rights?
One of the best ways we can restore rights is by putting a face to the decision. We must, within our consensual boundaries, share our abortion stories. This is not some obscure thing that happens to someone we read about somewhere. There are people in each of our lives who have experienced having made the decision to abort a pregnancy. And while their story is unique to them, when we share our collective experiences, we find that rarely are they unique to the world. You can find my story shared written: here and performed: here.
What keeps you up at night?
Nothing. I sleep like a baby.
What’s up with Beyoncé being nominated for 4 Best Albums of the year but never winning?
That’s not a psychological rabbit hole I allow myself to jump down. What I will say is, what is for you will never miss you and Mrs. Carter doin’ jussss fine without another piece of hardware to tell her what she already knows to be true.
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