26 Mar Nicole Cannon
OCCASIONALLY YOU MEET SOMEONE WHO IS THAT PRETTY. You know, the kind of pretty that when she’s talking, her lips are moving and sounds are coming out but you have no idea what she’s saying because you’re too busy wondering if there are miniature elves behind her bright eyes, illuminating them from behind with flashlights. Or you start fixating on the impossible clarity of her make-up free complexion, wondering if she bathes in unicorn milk. That was my experience when I first met actress Nicole Cannon at a Mommy-and-Me toddler class in 2005.
A blond and pregnant Nicole sauntered in to the pre-school yard, looking like a young, Bohemian Michelle Pfeiffer. Nicole’s cherubic daughter Celeste was at her side and I immediately thought we’d been transported to the set of a 70’s mother-daughter Breck commercial.
“Hi, I’m Nicole,” she said (probably, but who was listening?).
She extended her hand and I shook it, resisting the urge to squeeze it super-hard to make sure she was actually human. She’s probably about as shallow as a crepe, I thought to myself, sure that I could find a flaw if I tried really hard.
But no such luck. It only took a few minutes of conversation to realize that this spiritual, ethereal but grounded beauty is as genuine and deep as the Pacific Ocean. And what’s even nicer, she’s much warmer. (I would also add that she’s also “less seaweedy” but Nicole does love her sushi.)
While the rest of us at Mommy-and-me were in a circle complaining about our husbands for not properly twisting the diaper-genie lid “just so” in order to create those perfect little diaper sausages, Nicole was sitting there quietly listening. She looked up and said softly, “I don’t know you guys. They’re just diapers. Maybe you can look past it.”
Her husband, British director Danny Cannon, had been out of the country on location shooting a movie for a month already. She was missing him and eager for him to come home.
“Wow,” I thought. “Here’s a sleep-deprived pregnant woman who looks amazing, actually likes her husband, and she even knows how to forgive diaper-sausage-ineptitude. I can really learn something from this girl!” Her honesty, vulnerability and fresh perspective won me over that day, and we have remained friends ever since.
Nicole lives in Brentwood with her talented husband, and their two adorable daughters, now aged eight and ten. I am happy to report that I did eventually find some flaws in Nicole, but they are the annoyingly acceptable and lovable kind like, “she cooks too much food for her guests”, “she apologizes too quickly”, or “she missed her belt loop that one day in March.” Mostly what I’ve witnessed over the past eight years is a woman who is crazy in love with her family, an engaged actress dedicated to her craft, a consummate learner, a spiritual seeker, a loyal friend, and a girl who loves nature, laughter, philosophical conversations, great shoes, and life itself. Not necessarily in that order. But what strikes me the most about Nicole is her dichotomous nature. As mentioned, she is, at once, both grounded and ethereal. Deeply profound yet playful. Beautiful but humble. Intimidating but friendly. Ambitious but “in the moment.”
The Cannon’s Brentwood home is a reflection of these same contradictory but balanced characteristics. Their backyard is both elegant and playful. It showcases a pool and patio that is perfect for entertaining, but also has a custom-made treehouse and a zip-line sturdy enough for adult adventure. The home design is traditional in its architecture, but hip in its sensual and current décor. It reflects elements of the earth and nature in their use of different woods, stones and crystals—yet it also pays tribute to the sea with their collection of ocean-faring octopi art and sculptures. The rooms feel sturdy, rich and masculine, yet also whimsical, feminine and deeply passionate in their color schemes. The end result is a home that feels casual and welcoming, yet at the same time -luxurious. It’s a home where you can put your feet up and laugh, yet the sumptuous materials and artistic flair make it feel special, like you’ve wandered into someone’s lush and luxuriant salon painting from a bygone era.
When I asked Nicole how she was able to achieve this apropos and fitting balance, so perfectly suited for her family, she shared that the home design was a collaborative effort between her visionary husband Danny, herself and designers Julie Berchtold and Samantha Harris of Berchtold Harris Design.
Nicole Cannon Danny is very visual. He has an amazing, artistic eye and our designers were great at interpreting and implementing exactly what we wanted. In our home I think Danny’s influence is seen in the broad strokes. My touches are the fine strokes; like adding a flapper fringe on the sofas or using black pearls to accent the chandeliers.
Michelle Gillette What’s your favorite aspect of the house overall?
NC I like that the whole house is balanced between masculine and feminine. It’s very Libra. The library is my favorite room. It’s very funky and has a little bit of a 20’s vibe.
MG What areas do you congregate in the most?
NC We love entertaining, so the kitchen and dining room are constantly in use. Be it an intimate dinner party or a barbecue with many friends, we’ll usually end up playing some sort of game like touch football, Balderdash or running charades. That’s always fun. The house has a nice flow and I think people feel at home here.
MG What made you choose to move from Beverly Hills to Brentwood?
NC I was looking for a friendly neighborhood with lots of kids where my girls could ride their bikes to school. Growing up all the kids in the neighborhood would come to our house after school and play a game of kickball or softball in the front yard. I was hoping to recreate some of that for my children. I wanted our house to be a modern version of the “Kool-Aide” house…full of friends and fun times. I also liked the idea of being on the Westside because we are huge nature lovers. I like that we can go for an adventure up Temescal Canyon or hit the beach to explore the tide pools.
MG Any favorite local spots?
NC We love to go for family bike rides in the neighborhood. I enjoy morning hikes up the Kenter or Crestwood fire roads with friends after drop-off. The views are stunning and the air is clean. There is a gorgeous old oak tree perched on a hill on one of my favorite hikes that is so serene.
MG What favorite places do you frequent in ‘town?’
NC We like to pop in for family dinner at the sushi bar at Katsuya. Devour a pizza or two at the Toscana bar. Go to Sweet Crush for a treat and then of course Soulcycle or Burn 60 the next morning.
MG What are you and Danny working on these days?
NC Danny is currently Executive Producer on the CW show he directed ‘The Tomorrow People’ as well as developing several other projects for Warner Brothers including ‘The Lottery’ for Lifetime and a 30’s period drama, also for the CW. I’m currently co-producing a new play along with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody titled ‘Good Grief’ written by Lorien Haynes, due for a spring opening. In our free time Danny and I have been acting together in a comedy web series with some friends based on my pre-midlife crisis called ‘Adult Hood’. Danny’s funny. I foresee a second career for him.
MG What would be your dream acting gig?
NC Anything with Terrence Malick. He is such a beautifully poetic storyteller. I would love to be in a female version of ‘Into the Wild’. What would it be called? Hmmm… ‘A Womb With a View’ maybe?
MG You have a comedic side too. I could see you in something by Judd Apatow. Can you share your Ninja-fish-transporter story?
NC You mean the time when I almost got kicked out of Brentwood? When we first moved here, my children went on a nature walk down the street with our beloved housekeeper, and they found a small pond with fish in it. When they came home with a new ‘pet’ (fish), they swore up and down it was an abandoned pond and definitely not on someone’s property. The next day when I went with them on their walk, I was mortified to discover that it was actually the water feature in the median on a ‘Private Road’. The following morning, I went back to the ‘pond’ wearing a disguise and dodging security cameras so I could release the little fella back to his home.
MG I can imagine you sneaking through the bushes. Meanwhile, that poor fish… he thought he was going to get to swim in your pool, but then you were like ‘back in the Ziploc, Fins.’
NC Exactly! Then…cue the Ralph Lauren family walking down the street eyeing me suspiciously and the Ziploc getting sucked into the filtration system as I was trying to act ‘normal’ until they passed. I saw an explosion of freshly cut grass in my rearview mirror when I ran over a bag of lawn clippings as I peeled out of there. I’m sure a Neighborhood Watch flyer made it into everyone’s mail that day. “Be on the look out for ‘The Brentwood Hillbillies’. ”
MG But it was very noble of you. You are like Abraham Lincoln that time he walked all that way just to return one penny. But you have better hair.
About the author: Michelle Gillette is a mom, certified Martha Beck Life Coach, freelance writer, artist and former hedge fund executive.