Another Month, Another Milestone: My FIRST Understudy Gig!

This super fun pic is from a recent "personality" photo shoot with Jody Christopherson of PFA Photo - check her out!!

This super fun pic is from a recent “personality” photo shoot with Jody Christopherson of PFA Photo – check her out!!

Happy Summer!

It’s been quite an exciting few months:

After returning from Geva Theatre Center at the end of February, I went back to work in the voiceover booth. I recorded two video games (my firsts!), some industrials, and am about to start working on Season 2 of Nickelodeon’s Regal Academy. I also moved. AND… I booked my first understudy gig!!!

I’m so excited to be understudying the role of Jess in Martyna Majok’s new play Cost of Living, now playing Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club!! More info on the show, what it means to be an understudy, and a *TICKET OFFER* below!

Feel free to like my Facebook Page and/or follow me on Twitter to get more frequent updates on my career goings-on. 

About the Play

cost of living

Directed by Obie Award winner Jo Bonney, this achingly human and surprisingly funny play from exciting new voice Martyna Majok is about the forces that bring people together, the realities of facing the world with physical disabilities and how deeply we all need each other. Truck driver Eddie (Victor Williams) is struggling to rebuild a relationship with his estranged wife Ani (Katy Sullivan) and Jess (Jolly Abraham) is trying to navigate the day-to-day with John (Gregg Mozgala), her new boss in a job that she desperately needs. People are hard.

We’re a New York Times Critics’ Pick (!!!) and Variety says it’s “A powerful, bittersweet play about people who need other people to survive.”

We have 8 performances a week, Tuesdays through Sundays, and are currently on sale through July 16. But stay tuned – we’re waiting to hear if we’ll extend past that! Click HERE for more information about Cost of Living and Manhattan Theatre Club.

What’s an Understudy?

IMG_7147

Basically, an understudy is an actor hired to learn a part (or “track”) as backup in the event that the actor cast in the part is unable to perform in a show. When a show has a long run (Cost of Living will have at least a 9 week run) and 8 shows per week, *stuff* happens. Maybe a cast member gets sick or books a commercial or has a family emergency. If they can’t make it to a show (with or without advanced notice), their understudy steps in – the show must go on, after all.

I’m a type of understudy called a “standby”: I show up at “half hour” to every performance (30 minutes before curtain) and hang out before and during the show *just in case.* It also means I better KNOW THE SHOW inside and out, so that if I need to step in no one else is thrown. All understudies are cogs in a well-oiled machine: replace one and the machine still works.

My wonderful fellow understudies (Christopher ImbroscianoMary Theresa Archbold, Howard Overshown) and I watch the show almost every night and attend 2 understudy-only rehearsals each week. It’s very different from all my previous gigs, but I’m enjoying the challenge!

Ticket Offers!

IMG_7189

As an understudy, there’s no guarantee that I’ll ever get to go on (which is certainly the bummer part of the gig), but the show is SO BEAUTIFUL that I hope you’ll come see it anyway!! And bonus: I have to be at the theatre for every performance, so I’ll at least get to see you after the show 🙂

Here are some *TICKET OFFERS* to entice you:

1) Click HERE or call the City Center Box Office at (212) 581-1212 to purchase tickets – use code F&F for a “Friends and Family” discount!

2) Download the TodayTix app and grab one of the first come, first served rush tickets ($25) on sale starting at 10am on the day of each performance.

3) Join Manhattan Theatre Club’s “30 Under 30” program and get a pair of $30 tickets to any MTC show! Click HERE for information on how to join.

4) Contact me! I have access to $45 house seats and a limited number of comps each week. Just give me a few days advanced notice 🙂

And if I DO learn I’ll be going on (in advance or last-minute), I’ll announce it via a quick e-blast (sign up for the newsletter HERE) and on social media (like my Facebook Page and follow me on Twitter) – stay tuned and fingers crossed!!

Posted in News

Let Me Teach You CPR!

Did you know that I am a Spokesperson for the American Red Cross (where I am also an Instructor for First Aid, CPR, and AED classes at various levels)? Well…now you know! 

Last week, I was invited back on The Dr. Oz Show to demonstrate how to perform CPR and use an AED, and talk about why they’re such important skills to know. It was my 4th time on the show and I had a blast shooting the segments. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to once again represent the Red Cross!

Check out all three segments below 🙂

CLICK HERE for Segment 1: How to perform CPR part 1

CLICK HERE for Segment 2: How to perform CPR part 2

CLICK HERE for Segment 3: How to use an AED

Annnnnnnd some production stills from our shoot!

IMG_6923

Bob Harper (of “The Biggest Lose” fame) was on The Dr. Oz Show to talk about his recent medical scare: three months ago he went into cardiac arrest at a gym. He credits quick CPR and AED use for saving his life.

IMG_6920

Dr. Oz wanted to showcase that anyone can learn CPR in just a few minutes – so we held a “Hands-Only CPR class” during his show and invited several audience members to participate!

IMG_6922

There are 2 steps to performing CPR. If your victim is unresponsive and not breathing, STEP ONE is to call 911. Then put your hands in the center of the chest, with the heel of one hand along the breastbone, and do STEP TWO: push hard and fast.

Posted in News

Kicking 2017 Off in…Rochester!

 

 


 
“Take your broken heart, make it into Art.” ~Meryl Streep via Carrie Fisher

IMG_5927

 

New Year, New Adventures!

I rang in the new year by spending the day in my pajamas, and a week later I left the creature comforts of home for another #theatremagic experience. Hello from Rochester, New York! (More on that below!)

This year I’m focusing on ALIGNMENT, in every sense of the word. I want to find more work-life balance, focus on keeping my energy and output in line with my short and long term goals, improve my ability to adjust to unforeseen speed bumps in the road, and physically fix my horribly misaligned spine. Thank you Massage Therapist extraordinaire Jessica Meirs for convincing me to see a Chiropractor for the first time to tackle that last issue!! In my opinion, alignment leads to longevity. And I certainly want that 🙂

In the spirit of aligning my actions with my goals, below is a mini timeline of my current #actorlife as well as some highlights from 2016. Each of these accomplishments feels like a piece of the foundation I’m building, one I’m excited to keep growing. Be sure to like my Facebook Page, follow me on Twitter, and keep checking my Website to stay in the loop about what happens next!


On Stage Now

IMG_6290

Just finished my first week of rehearsals for Rajiv Joseph’s The Lake Effect at the Geva Theatre Center, directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh! It’s my first production at a LORT theatre and I’ve been having a BLAST. It helps that I’ve wanted to play this part in this play since it debuted in 2013 (I do have a soft spot for those “broken” characters, after all). Above is a peek at our rehearsal set.

If you find yourself in Rochester anytime soon, come say hello. Maybe even see our play! We open February 2 – tickets and more info HERE.

Just Passed

2016 The Song

I reunited with the Odd Sqodd gang for this annual gem, “2016: The Song!” (Click the pic above to watch our take on 2016.) Even though this year was rough for many, I hope this can make you laugh about it at least a little bit. Please excuse all the parts where I’m off key. We didn’t have much rehearsal time haha. If you want to KEEP laughing, check out some of our other sketches HERE!

Coming Up

Lifeguard Video

There’s LOTS on the horizon! A few notables:

-Catch me in the pilot of ABC’s Time After Time, premiering March 5! HERE‘s the trailer (I’m not in it but it’s still fun).

-Are you a lifeguard? In your next class you’ll see/hear someone familiar: ME! The pic above is from the new manual. I love it when my #actorlife and Red Cross worlds collide 🙂

-It’s still in the early stages, but I’m going to be collaborating on the creation of a one-woman show adapted from a young adult novel to be performed by…moi! More soon!


2016 Highlights

Playing Mahwish in Ayad Akhtar's "The Who And The What" at Gulfshore Playhouse, April-May 2016

Played Mahwish in Ayad Akhtar’s “The Who And The What” at Gulfshore Playhouse, April-May 2016

Channeling my inner chameleon as ALL the Women in the World Premiere of Aditi Kapil's "Orange" at Mixed Blood Theatre, October-December 2016 ©2016 RichRyan

Channeled a chameleon as ALL the Women in the World Premiere of Aditi Kapil’s “Orange” at Mixed Blood Theatre, October-December 2016 ©2016 RichRyan

May 22, 2016: Baby's first acting award!! All Out Arts granted me a Fruitie Award for Outstanding Featured Performance for my work as Marie Rodell in 2015's "Rachel: the Musical!"

May 22, 2016: Baby’s first acting award!! All Out Arts granted me a Fruitie Award for Outstanding Featured Performance for my work as Marie Rodell in 2015’s “Rachel: the Musical!”

Season 1 of "Regal Academy" premiered on Nickelodeon! It's so fun to voice Clara Cinderella, a mom with a secret.

Season 1 of “Regal Academy” premiered on Nickelodeon! It’s so fun to voice Clara Cinderella, a mom with a secret.

Say hello to the new voice of Lalah Sune in "Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin" Episode 4! I exercised my high-pitched, airy voice with her!

Say hello to the new voice of Lalah Sune in “Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin” Episode 4! I exercised my high-pitched, airy voice with her!


 

Posted in News

Back in New York and…what? An Award? For Moi?!


“I haven’t had an orthodox career, and I’ve wanted more than anything to have your respect…you like me, right now, you like me!” ~Sally Field


Six months into 2016 and I’ve already worked at (and fallen in love with) another regional theatre AND won my very first acting award. Say what?! Plus I learned how to embed videos into these posts so scroll down to check out my performance at said awards show!

Working in this biz comes with so many ups and downs (and, if we’re getting technical, plateaus) and it feels darn good to be riding a high for a bit. Just no one ask me what’s coming next, cuz I have no idea. Anyone looking for a “too young to be in charge” or “quirky best friend” or “pretty little psychopath”-type? Spread the word: Universe, I’m ready for my next adventure!

 

The Who and The What

IMG_4481 - Copy

At the beginning of April, when it seemed winter would never end in New York, I traveled to uber-sunny Naples, Florida to work on a show at the beautiful Gulfshore Playhouse. The Who and The What is a play about family and secrets, written by Ayad Akhtar (he won the Pulitzer for another of his plays – Disgraced – so, you know, he’s kind of a big deal) and directed by Emily Wells.

When I first read the script for The Who and The What (in 2013) I was struck by the clever writing and the brilliantly complex female characters. It’s so refreshing to read a play that doesn’t present women – let alone women of color – in monotone. These women, the sisters Zarina and Mahwish, are both headstrong and intelligent and flawed and charming. I HAD to do this play!

Thus began a slew of auditions, callbacks, rejections- I’m fairly certain I auditioned for every production of this show! I’d get called in for Mahwish, called back for Zarina, and vice versa. Gulfshore Playhouse called me in for Zarina, called me back for Mahwish and then…nothing. For a month. I figured it wasn’t meant to be. But then Super Agent Man Jim Daly called me the day before Thanksgiving to tell me I booked it!

I spent six glorious weeks in Naples, loving every second we worked on the show and getting my fill of hashtag beach life (ahem the theatre was EIGHT blocks from the beach). It was wonderful to reunite with Rasha Zamamiri, the actress playing my big sister Zarina- the last time we worked together it was 2007 and I was a baby in college, a noob to the theatre world. Rajesh Bose played our father Afzal- he and I have worked together several times through Theatre 167; how fun to have a friend with whom to explore a new city! Eric Clem rounded out our cast as Zarina’s love interest Eli- we only had one scene together (it went like this: “Hey Mahwish.” “Hey Eli.”), so we bonded over our mutual worship of R.E.I. (Mecca!). Friendship sealed 🙂

Closing a show is always bittersweet- it feels good to be back home in New York, but I will truly miss telling this story every night with my wonderful Gulfshore Playhouse family- I can’t wait to return. Enjoy some photos from our production at the bottom of this post!

 

Me and My Fruitie Award!

Last summer I had the privilege of working on a new musical called Rachel, about one of my idols, Rachel Carson. I had a BLAST playing her feisty literary agent Marie Rodell, and I guess I must have done something right because All Out Arts and the Fresh Fruit Festival awarded me a Fruitie for Outstanding Featured Performance!! I was – still am – shocked and humbled and honored. Here’s the full text of my acceptance speech, which doesn’t begin to encompass just how grateful I am for the opportunity to be a part of the Rachel journey:

“At a time when a large portion of our country wants to build walls and our own industry is being forced to reckon with its attitude towards diversity, as an actor, it’s hard sometimes to hold onto the belief that I could possibly be judged solely by the content of my character (some really smart dude once said that). Marie Rodell was a firecracker, a woman who forged a name for herself in the literary world at a time when women were supposed to leave that sort of thing to men. She was also…let’s just say she was a little less tan than me. I think that’s the PC way to say it. But Jessie and Jared and Ari saw her essence in me, and that was enough. I was enough. It didn’t matter that we don’t look alike. Thank you for taking a chance, trusting me with the privilege of bringing Marie and her way-too-high heels back to life. Thank you for seeing the content of my character – I wish more people had the vision, the courage, to be as open and willing and trusting as you. Thank you all.”

VIDEO: Click the pic above to check out my performance at the 2016 Fruitie Awards and get a little taste of Marie Rodell!!

Check out some The Who and The What production photos!

   


 

Posted in News

2015: A Year of Firsts!

 

 


“I stopped believing in Santa Claus when I was six. Mother took me to see him in a department store and he asked for my autograph!” ~Shirley Temple


Happy Almost-2016!What an incredible year it’s been. I’ve learned a lot about myself as an actor and person and I feel… really freakin’ proud of all this growth! Thank you for your support this year- in person, on the phone, online- it makes my heart happy to feel your encouragement and energy 🙂 Get ready to *squee* in glee with me because I’ll be able to announce my next project… SOON.

Like my Facebook Page, follow me on Twitter, and check out my Website to be in the loop when the time comes! Til then, enjoy my top 5 of 2015- five big firsts that won’t be the last.

Have a wonderful holiday season and a happy new year <3

2015: My Top 5 “Firsts”

First SAG-AFTRA Card

In January it finally happened: I booked a job that pushed me from “eligible” to “must join.” Now I have this shiny, new SAG-AFTRA member card, and all the union protections that come with it. WHEE!

First Network Pilot Test

Pilot season. When new TV shows are cast and actors like me vie for series regular roles. Well, in March, I made it to the final round of casting for a CBS pilot! My Bloc NYC Super Agent Man (aka the inimitable Jim Daly) and I were stoked. MILESTONE!

First Scene with an Actor Idol

One of my actor-crushes is Kathryn Hahn. She’s just FREAKISHLY TALENTED and I love everything she does. It was REALLY hard not to go full on fangirl when I worked with her on Showtime’s Happyish. But I’m a professional. And PS: she’s awesome.

First Fringe Festival

The NY Fringe Festival has been on my actor bucket list since college. When I read the script for Jacob Marx Rice’s dark comedy Coping, I felt a strong pull to be a part of it. Lucky for me- it premiered at the Fringe! Working on this show was…emotionally challenging. Also I loved every minute. Especially the infamous snot scene with the brilliant Scott Thomas. Audiences must have loved it too because we got extended. TWICE!

First Marathon

I know it’s not actor-news, but I’m SUPER proud of this one: on November 1, after 18 weeks of training (and spending last year trying to qualify), I ran the TCS New York City Marathon. 26.2 miles through the streets of my city. This pic (taken by my friend Jill Sapenoff!) is from the halfway mark. Trust me- I was smiling like a maniac the rest of the race too! I could talk about it for hours but to sum up: it was one of the best days of my life 🙂


 

Posted in News