Q&A With Nicole Hayden AKA ‘Denise’ From Taco Bell

I cannot remember the first time I saw the Taco Bell commercial in which the customer asked specifically for an employee named “Denise”.  However, I do remember looking at my buddy and saying “Who. Is. That!?!”.  We were both surprised because in our vast experience with Taco Bell and their employees we have never stumbled upon someone as striking as “Denise”.  After seeing this commercial multiple times during the National Championship, it led me to do some research to see if I could find out who “Denise” was.  Well, it’s a good thing I am awesome at procrastinating on the internet because not only did I find her, but I was able to get ahold of her manager as well.  Short story shorter, her manager hooked us up and introduced us to “Denise”.  Now please allow Thunder Treats to answer the question that many in America are asking, “Who is Denise from the Taco Bell Commercials?”…

It’s Nicole Hayden…

– Are there any projects you are currently involved with or pursuing you can tell us about?

I am part of a theatre company in Los Angeles, always working, auditioning and looking forward to what comes next!

– Were you aware that the “blogosphere” and internet in general was abuzz with your performance in the Taco Bell commercial?

Ha Ha, I have never even heard that word before, I am a complete dork when it comes to computers and all that stuff.  I didn’t even have a Facebook until this year when my friends made one for me!  I didn’t know until you guys told me!

– Speaking of the blogosphere, do you pay much attention to blogs and if so do you have a favorite blog or website you’ve come across or read regularly?

See above!  You guys can be my one and only! (Editors Note: This is awesome.)

– Is acting something you have always wanted to do while you were growing up?

Absolutely!   I was in my first performance company at age 7 and have been doing it ever since!

– What are some of the coolest experiences you have had since becoming an actress?

Wow, well I have gotten to meet and work with amazing actors famous and not and have learned more about life than I ever thought possible by my age!  One really cool thing was precision driving, twice I have been cast in roles that involved driving and one of them involved an accident, we were on location and my stunt driver didn’t make it so I had to do the driving, I pretended I knew what I was doing, if they ever saw my driving record they would of probably cancelled the whole thing!

– What was the experience like working on a network show like “8 simple rules” that lost a comedy legend like John Ritter in the middle of its run?

Every time I get asked this question I have to take a deep breath and really try and think how to fit all my emotions into a coherent sentence.  It was an amazing experience and he was beyond that.  The kind of man that made you feel like you were the only person in the room every time he talked to you and like you were so special.  He was the most modest, charming, caring and simply wonderful man I have ever met.  Being at his memorial was a life changing experience for me, I have never heard more astounding stories about one person, everyone and I mean everyone loved him so deeply, people who hadn’t seen him for decades.  A grip from Three’s Company was seated near me, he told me how he ran into John on an airplane, he said hi to John and wasn’t sure at first if John would remember him, not only did John remember him, he knew his name, his wives name and kids names, he then proceeded to give up his seat in first class to come and sit with him in coach and they caught up for the next five hours!  I can’t imagine another celebrity like that.  I hope to leave a legacy like that behind me, regardless of anything else, famous or not, just that whomever I come across I can affect with kindness and true interest.

– Is there a specific reason why you have been credited as three different names in your career and which should we refer to you as?

Well it’s kind of a long story, basically SAG only allows one of each name in the union, I had a hard time finding one since my Actual name was taken, at one time I used a boyfriends name which wasn’t a good idea and than had problems because a porn star shared a similar name, changed it again and had a credit mix up with someone of a similar name in SAG and finally found a version that no one had and so far has created no issues.  Wish that answer was more exciting like witness protection or something but then I guess doing commercials wouldn’t be a good idea.  Anyway, my name is Nicole Hayden, I think, ha ha, just kidding it is.

– Who is someone in the business that you have met and been star struck by?

I don’t usually get star struck but I would have to say Leonardo Di Caprio.  He is taller than I thought and I just can’t help picturing him on the front of a ship.  He was very nice and I was very silent and nerdy, way to go me!

– We love sports here, is there a specific sports team or sport in general that you like to follow?

My family is originally from New Jersey, so football wise I’m a Giants fan all the way!  Probably shouldn’t be so proud of that right about now… Lotta questions on the defensive side of the ball going into this offseason.  I think they need to make some serious changes in their secondary.  All I’m gonna say right now on that.  I’m way more into College Basketball than the NBA.  Something about the difference in effort that’s being put out on the court makes me dislike the pros.  Baseball gets a little dicey.  My dad and brother are Yankees fans, my grandpa was a Mets fan, I always liked the Mets and loved Darrel Strawberry as a kid.  Somehow I have become a Red Sox Fan, I know it’s crazy and my family hates it, I guess maybe it was the curse thing that got me so invested.  I cocktailed at a sports bar and when the Red Sox almost beat the Yankees in game seven 2004 I think I said to my huge table of Red Sox fans, don’t worry they’ll win it all next year!  They laughed and reminded me of the curse and left pretty defeated,  Well the next year I watched about 60 of their games (which is a lot for a girl), cheered like crazy for them in the playoffs, and they won!  A bunch of the guys from that party found me, dubbed me the Red Sox fairy and that’s how it all began!

– Will we see more of “Denise” in Taco Bell ads? Because Thunder Treats will do all they can to make that character way bigger then that little rat dog from the 90s!

Ha ha, I hated that dog!  I have no idea, but I am all in, I would do anything to wear that visor again!


Quick Answer, first thing that comes to mind:

1.) If you could be one character from Saved by the Bell, who would it be?

AC Slater, I would love to rock those pleats!

2.) Cheesy Gordita Crunch or Crunch Wrap Supreme?

Crunch Wrap Supreme

3.) One Item you cannot live without?

Double sided tape

Big thanks to Christie Thomas and Nicole Hayden for doing this with us.  Keep up the good work Nicole, we can’t wait to see what is in store for you next!

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