Her voice and face are instantly recognizable as the iconic representative of rock and roll at a time when music was fun, and changed the world. As MTV’s very first VJ, NINA BLACKWOOD became the symbol of all things hip and culturally on-point for a whole generation who looked to her as the final word on rock knowledge and history.
But beyond the smoky voice and sultry beauty, NINA has a heart of gold with a tender spot for helping abused people and animals in need, and is making it her life’s mission to make a difference.
After five wildly successful years as the face of MTV, NINA signed an unprecedented dual show contract with Paramount Television, anchoring both her own weekly “Rock Report” on Entertainment Tonight, and co-hosting TV’s award winning show “Solid Gold.” Her popularity led to appearances on Britain’s top TV network the BBC, as well as European and American network television and film appearances including “Live Aid,” “The British Phonograph Awards,” “The Monteux Rock Festival” and “Farm Aid.”
In 1999, NINA’s nationally syndicated radio program “Absolutely80s” went on the air, kicking off major new interest in both the music and lifestyle of the ‘80s. The hit show is still distributed by United Stations Radio Networks.
In 2001 – and until the station was sold – NINA helmed the coveted Afternoon Drive shift on Denver, CO’s top rated The Peak 96.5 FM. During her four hour live show, NINA drew on her vast personal knowledge the artists and times to enthrall her listening audience like no other radio personality. It’s obvious that NINA loves the medium of live radio and interacting with her legion of fans.
In August 2002, NINA began presenting “Classic” alternative music tracks on radical stations like LA’s fabled Indie 103 with her popular “New Wave Nation” nationally syndicated radio show. Always quick to provide personal anecdotes and insights into the music, NINA brought her appealing personality and engaging style of story telling to each program she did.
In May 2004, groundbreaking Sirius Satellite Radio launched NINA’s “Big ‘80s” airshift on their Channel 8. She continues to be heard on Sirius-XM’s “80s on 8” which airs Mondays through Fridays 1PM to 4PM, Saturdays from 8PM to midnight, and Sundays from 10AM to 1PM (all Eastern times), as well as hosting the “VJ Big 40 Countdown” with her fellow former MTV VJs Mark, Martha and Alan.
Born in Massachusetts, NINA moved to Ohio when she was seven. She started taking piano lessons at the age of four, and continued her music education in her new home, and when she became enamored with the harp, she set out to learn that instrument, becoming an accomplished harpist. At the tender age of eight, NINA started acting in local theater, and as a teenager, her good looks led to do some modeling jobs. To this day, NINA is frequently called up to do voice-overs for TV, radio and film.
After graduation, NINA moved to Los Angeles to study acting at the renowned Lee Strasberg Institute. While perfecting her acting chops, NINA played her six-foot tall double action pedal harp, appearing nightly in lavish settings at the city’s top establishments. Her animated performances garnered rave reviews for their groundbreaking segues from Baroque style original compositions to rock classics like George Harrison’s “While My Guitar Gently Weeps.”
A pioneer in the as-yet undeveloped field of music videos, NINA – along with radical underground director @MIC – developed a TV concept incorporating imaginary video station “K.P.N.K.” wherein NINA conducted artist interviews between short “music films” and original advertisement parodies, thus foreshadowing things to come.
NINA’s work generated interested in the acting community. She was cast in a variety of roles, including a major part in Avco-Embassy’s “Vice Squad,” a hard-hitting drama about the seamy side of Hollywood hookers. A shocking eye opener for NINA, she says, “When I watched the rough cut of the film, I was in tears. It made me shudder to think that young women can get trapped in that awful life of violence.” With “Vice Squad,” NINA became a cult heroine. After the film’s theatrical run, it became a Top 20 videocassette.
Producers Rob Reiner and Michael Man cast NINA in the part of the band manager in the pilot for “Spinal Tap.” However, her next commitment took her to New York City, making her unable to participate in the final version of the film. This new job? The launch of MTV!
Speaking of the initial launch of MTV, NINA recalls: “MTV didn’t have any guidelines to start with, so I figured there was nothing to gain by being conservative. So I just let my imagination side reign!” The free-wheeling creativity that NINA brought to MTV helped define the successful format that ultimately changed the direction of the record, film and television industries.
NINA’s acting abilities were once again tapped when she performed in the road company of “The Vagina Chronicles,” an experience she loved and hopes to have the opportunity to do more live stage appearances.
The future for NINA is so bright that she will have to wear shades (now where have we heard that?) with many personal appearances already booked for her in the new year. Recognized as a world-wide icon for an entertainment savvy generation eager for any and every detail of the “golden age of rock,” NINA will demonstrate that encyclopedic knowledge when she and her MTV buddies kick off 2016 with an ‘80s cruise featuring many of the great bands of the 1980s, including Huey Lewis and the News, Modern English, Flock of Seagulls and Richard Marx to name just a few. Also in development and slated to be launched by mid-2016 is NINA’s “Loving Earth Foundation,” a 501C3 non-profit. She is channeling her passion for the environment and the animals of the earth towards making a difference in their protection and the survival of their habitats both locally and internationally. Funds raised via her Foundation will go towards this goal, with plans for charity events in NYC and LA to generation contributions.