NIKKI LYNETTE is a social impact artist & suicide survivor who fuses mental health activism into her musical theater performances, film projects and visual art, creating a lane that is uniquely her own. This Chicago native’s self-produced songs are frequently featured in popular shows on Netflix, Hulu, Showtime and more. Her journey with mental health outreach began in 2016 when she returned to the public eye after a long hiatus with a confession: she’d secretly been battling mental health issues. At a time when being open about mental health struggles was taboo, Nikki began writing articles about depression and suicide for prominent cultural media like Afropunk and AllHipHop. As the opening act for Pussy Riot’s first American tour, Nikki workshopped the material that would soon become her buzzed-about new musical about depression, GET OUT ALIVE. Nikki has made history as the first black female playwright to have a musical produced by American Music Theatre Project, the first AMTP work to debut at Steppenwolf, as well as the first Steppenwolf LookOut Series work and first female AMTP alum to be featured at NAMT’s Festival of New Musicals. The stage show is currently in development under the guidance of Octopus Theatricals.


A proud ambassador and board member for the Chicago chapter of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Nikki Lynette’s first TEDx Talk, hosted by Princeton University, was an opportunity for her to share how her punk culture roots aided her suicide recovery. Seeing her music used to tell stories in tv shows led Nikki to an interest in filmmaking. Since adapting her musical about depression to film during the pandemic, GET OUT ALIVE has been invited into over a dozen film festivals and nominated for 5 awards, of which she won three. Her zeal for crafting edgy multimedia theatrical experiences that center mental health is on full display in Nikki’s second film, the recently completed documusical Happy Songs About Unhappy Things, which boasts Jamie Foxx & Datari Turner as producers. The first screenings of this project, which was Nikki’s directorial debut, will take place at Cinequest Film and Creativity Festival and Beloit International Film Festival in Spring 2024.


Nikki Lynette is represented by Independent Artist Group (IAG.)

I didn’t wanna do music no more. I mean, I kinda wanted to, but I thought it would be too hard to start over. You spend a lot of time out the game and everything changes. What I wanted was to not be here. I would wake up and be disappointed that I was awake, and just lay there for an hour before I could get outta bed. I spent a lot of time in bed. I only pushed myself to get better because of my momma. She was sick, and she needed me. So I pushed myself. I didn’t have much support, because the stigma around mental health leaves a lot of room for lack of understanding, a lot of room for judgement, a lot of room for shame.

I realized that my music career, by itself, was not enough of a motivator for me no more. I am motivated by people. Particularly people whose needs are underrepresented. Right now my inspiration is coming primarily from the battles I have fought, the ones I am still fighting, and the people who are fighting those battles with me. I think I have accomplished a lot of stuff that I can be proud of, but nothing makes me more proud than this. Until the mental health conversation is being had in a way that appeals to all the people who suffering, we ain’t gonna see no change. That don’t work for me. So I’m gonna do it.