Alumna thanks NIU for screen time

By Tatianna Salisbury

DEKALB ­— Nina Rausch was just a young girl when she fell in love with acting. She watched Baz Luhrmann’s 1996 “Romeo & Juliet” too many times to count, completely captivated by Leonardo DiCaprio and Claire Danes’ performances. She knew then and there what she wanted to devote her life to.

Rausch is an actress and producer from Germany and a 2006 NIU theatre and dance alumnus. She has established herself in the television and film industry as a powerful, unwavering presence through her guest roles as Franziska in “Orange is the New Black,” Gudrun in “Mad Men” and Sheila Davis in “Grey’s Anatomy.”

Rausch has been performing since she was four years old. She said she loves acting because she can tell any story she wants and finds never-before-told stories especially intriguing and challenging.

“Getting to know the world through stories is like playing on a new playground,” Rausch said. “I look for stories with hope, with someone overcoming a struggle.”

Rausch is determined, ambitious and attributes her discipline for her craft largely to her NIU experience.

“NIU taught me discipline and persistence,” Rausch said. “It taught me how to be a hard worker and how to be serious and invested in yourself.” In the Hollywood world of spotlights and show business there’s a common misconception that image is everything. Rausch said she doesn’t believe this is true; she said it’s truly what’s on the inside that counts.

“It doesn’t matter where you went to school [or] what you look like; it matters what efforts you put in,” Rausch said. “You have to ask yourself, can you take on that role, can you make it happen?”

Rausch has definitely made it happen for herself. Her resume is bulging with filmography, including 35 acting credits, six producer credits and one directing credit, according to IMDb. She also appeared in Amoor Entertainment’s 2015 TV mini series “Seen & Heard: Filmmakers Meet Actresses,” where she performed both dramatic and comedic monologues.

Recently, she starred in and produced a 17-minute short called “Crossing Fences,” a film based on the true story of a couple’s escape from East Germany’s communist reign. The film debuted in May at the Illinois International Film festival. Rausch said she enjoys the freedom of producing, but her true passion will always lie with acting.

Rausch’s life isn’t all cameras and production notes: when she’s off screen, she enjoys a healthy dose of relaxation.

“I started meditating two and a half years ago, every day for 20 minutes,” Rausch said. “I also bake quite a bit, it’s just so relaxing.”

Rausch discovered her favorite pastime at NIU during a hectic night of studying. She had enough of the books and yearned for something to satisfy her sweet tooth.

“I started throwing things together and made these cakes,” Rausch said. “They were so good, and my friends would ask for them for their birthdays.”

Rausch is currently starring as Jennifer in her newest dramatic short “Fine Print,” which is currently in post-production.