Despite being a star basketball player at Liberty Christian High School, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of California-Los Angeles, Nicole Kornet planned for her athletic career to end there. Instead, she aspired to do something in the entertainment field. Little did she know she could combine those two loves into a career. But that’s exactly where the now 29-year-old has found herself — on commercial and movie sets with people like Adam Sandler and LeBron James.
The sister of Boston Celtics center Luke, and daughter of former Liberty boys’ basketball coach Frank and former Channel 11 news anchor Tracy, Nicole has spent the past several years as an actress, voice talent, and sports coordinator for multiple productions. Though her work has been limited in the last year by a writers/actor’s strike, she has kept busy enough to pay her bills and be ready when that ends.
“I have always loved entertainment, film and TV,” she said. “I was one of those little girls who watched them, but didn’t know if I would necessarily get there,” she said. “I was gifted athletically. My mom has always been the singer/dancer/performer, and I idolized her and wanted that. But I was like my dad, the athlete.”
Nicole said, “Playing sports was my way of performing, which most coaches probably wouldn’t like. But at the end of the day, I’ve always loved the performance side more so than the cutthroat side.” After graduating from Liberty in 2012, she spent 3.5 years at Oklahoma after not being admitted to her number one choice, Stanford. Though she loved the school and family feel, she eventually realized Norman, Oklahoma, was not for her. She wanted something in California, and her AAU coach mentioned UCLA, where she graduated in 2017 with a degree in sociology.
Knowing professional basketball was not on her radar, she hung up her shoes and started working odd jobs. These included cocktail waitress and assisting a record label owned by a big UCLA donor. But while she never took an acting class, being at UCLA opened doors anyway.
Her first “break” came in 2019 when the football Watt brothers (J.J., T.J., and Derek) were seeking current or former athletes for a Fox television game show called Ultimate Tag. She wasn’t selected as a competitor but was hired as an on-air referee.
“That was kind of my foot-in-the-door thing,” she said. “I thought, ‘this is incredible. This is what I want to do.’”
During filming at Warner Brothers, she learned of a role as the voice of Women’s National Basketball Association star Diana Taurasi in a video game. One of the players she was guarding was James’ long- time stunt double who asked her about call backs for Space Jam: A New Legacy. He knew stunt/sports coordinator Mike Fisher and got her an impromptu audition the next day as Taurasi’s monster- character’s stunt double. Despite not looking like Taurasi, she got the part and finished filming just before the COVID-19 pandemic started in March 2020.
“That changed my life as I was guarding LeBron’s stunt double for three months and ended up making a lot more money,” said Kornet, who even beat James a couple of times one-on-one. Those gigs cemented her for sports-related roles, the next of which was as a mean girl basketball player
on Cheaper by the Dozen. That was followed by Hustle, a basketball movie starring Sandler.
As a sports coordinator, she had to find people who looked like Philadelphia 76ers players. She also had a small role as an official and was invited by Sandler to teach his daughter how to play on his home basketball court before playing him one-on-one.
“Mike is one of the top sports coordinators in LA, and I kind of went under his wing,” she said, “Now, I’ve been helping cast commercials and movies. I had to do a football movie in Atlanta (in 2022) called Fantasy Football and find 45 guys who looked like Atlanta Falcons’ players.
“It’s great acting yourself, but making other peoples’ dreams come true also is really cool. I really enjoy that.”
Most recently she was in New Mexico as basketball coordinator for Rez Ball slated to air next year on Netflix. Since that wrapped, she’s done some work on non-union productions but mostly laid low because of the strike. “It’s just been really fun, and I feel like I fell into some really cool roles that I feel not many people even know exist,” she said. “You have to take what you get and be grateful because someone is struggling more than you.”