“Ms. Shah is a winning performer: natural and naturally funny”
~ The New York Times
What’s Going On
Right Now: Y’all know how much I love new plays, right? Well this one is quite special: I’m currently working on the world premiere of ESSPY, a new play written by my dear friend Nandita Shenoy and directed by another wonderful friend, Peter J. Kuo. It will run February 22-March 17, at the New Jersey Repertory Company, very close to where I grew up! More info about my experience and how to get tickets is on the NEWS page.
- January 20-21: The nonprofit I co-founded, 1497, was so proud to return as an official partner of the Sundance Film Festival to host the second annual 1497 South Asian Lodge during the festival’s opening weekend! Check out the NEWS page for highlights from our time in Utah, including a recap reel and my favorite photos.
- October 17-December 17: While SAG-AFTRA has been on strike, I’ve been very fortunate to have theatre work – like at Milwaukee Repertory Theatre, where I portrayed murder mystery novelist Maxine Hadley in a new adaptation of Dial M for Murder. This version adds a few twists to the original play that was turned into a Hitchcock film. The thriller genre was quite fun to explore! Check out the NEWS page for a more in-depth peek at the new things I learned.
- November 9 UPDATE: as of midnight PT, SAG-AFTRA has reached a ground-breaking tentative agreement with the AMPTP and our historic 118-day strike is OVER! I’m grateful to our negotiating team for holding steadfast and securing us a deal that includes incredible gains in many areas, including guardrails for AI where before there were none.
- August 8-September 24: It was such a treat to head back to Kentucky to reprise my role as Mina Harker in Kate Hamill’s Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy at Actors Theatre of Louisville. How wonderful to share the stage again with my uber talented cast and crew Check out the NEWS page for more info on the experience of re-mounting this horror-comedy!
- September 6: Today’s the day! I am THRILLED to announce that I am one of the many voice actors in Starfield, the much-anticipated, new open world video game from Bethesda Studios! Check out the NEWS page for more information on my character!
- May 2…July 14…who knows when it will end: On May 2, 2023, the Writers Guild of America (WGA), the union that represents about 11,500 television and film screenwriters, went on strike after the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) spent weeks refusing to bargain in good faith and negotiate a new contract that included necessary workplace protections. On July 14, 2023, my union SAG-AFTRA and its 160,000 members joined the WGA in their strike. I have been attending as many picket lines as I can and stand in complete solidarity with my union siblings as we fight for a fair contract. For more information on the current strike status, WGA and SAG-AFTRA’s positions, and ways you can help, check out WGA on Strike and SAG-AFTRA on Strike.
- April 5-18: I recorded my very first audiobook! I’m thrilled to co-narrate Janika Oza’s gorgeous and haunting novel “A History of Burning” with KP Upadhyayula. Many thanks to Hachette Audio, my Director/Producer Deboleena Maitra, and Engineer Richard Suarez for their guidance and support throughout this incredibly fulfilling and challenging process. The audiobook became available for purchase in May (happy AAPI Heritage Month!) on Audible or wherever you listen to audiobooks!
- January 20-22: My nonprofit, 1497, is the first South Asian nonprofit partner of the Sundance Film Festival, and we hosted the first South Asian Lodge during the festival’s opening weekend in Park City, Utah! We curated and presented 17 events (?!) over 3 days, all at the intersection of art and advocacy (my sweet spot) with a large sprinkling of dance party thrown in.
- October 2022-February 2023: Hashtag milestone! I filmed my first recurring character on television! You’ll see me in several episodes of a delightful, new HBO show…sometime soon! That’s all I can say for now <3
- October-November: I spent these months diving back into development on some new plays in New York and elsewhere. Check out the NEWS page to read more about my time at Berkeley Repertory Theatre’s Ground Floor Lab! I also had a fantastic time recording a fun, quirky character for an upcoming video game – which is so super top secret I can’t say more than that right now – #NDA – but stay tuned!
- August 8-September 19: I had the pleasure of working on Kate Hamill’s new horror-comedy adaptation Dracula: A Feminist Revenge Fantasy at Actors Theatre of Louisville, directed by Jennifer Pennington! It was thrilling to portray the iconic Mina Harker and tackle toxic masculinity head on. Check out the NEWS page to read more about this piece…and another recent project of mine that ALSO involved vampires!
- June 12, 2022: I got a Tony Award! Ok, technically AAPAC (the Asian American Performers Action Coalition), a wonderful organization I volunteer with and am on the Steering Committee of, received 2022 Tony Honors for Excellence in the Theatre. But still. IT’S REALLY EXCITING! Check out the NEWS page to read all about my new friend Tony.
- November 15-February 28: I got to skip winter in NYC by heading to sunny Sarasota, Florida to perform in the world premiere of Jason Odell Williams’ America In One Room at Florida Studio Theatre, directed by Kate Alexander. It was my first play inside a theatre since 2019. Feelings. It was wild to dust off my new play development muscles and get back into 8-shows-a-week shape. Click HERE to read more about my experience.
- September 4-27: After 18 very long months I was beyond thrilled to return to LIVE THEATRE, joining the company of Animate at Mixed Blood Theatre Company (my home away from home). On Labor Day, I was grateful for the gift of being able to return to work. The show was produced in partnership with the Como Park Zoo and Conservatory, which is also WHERE we performed (yes, my castmate was a GIRAFFE). Read more about it on my NEWS page.
- Pandemic Spring: It was an honor to work with a stellar cast, crew, and creative team on a virtual production of Dipti Bramhandkar’s Islands of Contentment, co-directed by Arpita Mukherjee and Hannah Wolf and co-produced by Hypokrit Productions and The Tank. It was a series of monologues that all ponder the parts of romantic relationships no one makes movies about, and I had a blast! Check out the NEWS page for more information. Next – have you binged the hilarious “Girls5Eva” on Peacock TV yet? If you did, did you see a familiar face (or hear a familiar voice) in episode 8?! Also – many thanks to Luna Stage for inviting me to write and share about my experience with COVID as part of their Vaccine Monologues series. The result – a monologue titled “Semantic Satiation” – is my first foray into solo performance and the first time I’ve shared my writing publicly. I hope you enjoy it!
- Pandemic Winter: If you watched NBC’s “Law & Order: SVU” season 22, episode 4…you might have seen a familiar face! Check out the NEWS page for more details about my New York Actor Rite of Passage. Also Elyssa Nicole Trust and Lauren Schaffel interviewed me on “Positive Creativity Podcast.” Listen HERE or wherever you get your podcasts. Did you catch me on episode 3 of CBS’s new reboot of “The Equalizer“? Check out the NEWS page for more details about my experience meeting and working with The Queen. Queen Latifah, that is! Plus, I’m a podcaster now: I’m thrilled to be in the cohost cohort of The Collective Perspective: Reclaiming and Reshaping Theater, where artists from various identities, disciplines, and from across the country take a critical approach on reclaiming and reshaping the theater industry. Check us out wherever you listen to podcasts!
- Pandemic Fall: I had the opportunity to perform in a live, interactive, online show called Readymade Cabaret 2.0 with the theatre company This is Not a Theatre Company. The piece explores whether fate, chance, or free will determines the course of our lives (or not). Check out the NEWS page for more info on this Dada-inspired process.
- Pandemic Summer: Art always finds a way. I miss live theatre something fierce, but over the past few months of this global pandemic, I’ve been fortunate to see voiceover work (animated dub work, specifically) pick up a little bit – my new home booth is definitely getting a workout! Plus, I’m slowly learning to enjoy a new type of socially-distanced art I’m calling “video theatre” – still live, so it’s not film, but very much over a screen (and usually via Zoom). I’m grateful to have had a few opportunities to work and be creative in the video theatre world: A4 and American Dream Redux produced two plays by Dipika Guha and directed by Ryan Dobrin for their Crossing Borders reading series; Flying Solo and This is Not a Theatre Company produced Guru of Touch, a new Zoom play by Jenny Lyn Bader and directed by Erin Mee for the first-ever virtual Edinburgh Fringe Festival; Mile Square Theatre’s “Given Circumstance” series featured me in a new play called “Analyze Zoom” written by my dear friend Nandita Shenoy and directed by Melissa Firlit; Theater Mu produced a virtual TwentyPho Hour Playfest, in which I played a super fun role in the short play “Sisterhood, Totally.” Plus, you can catch me in the new scripted podcast “The Weirdness” from Gen-Z Media!
- April-May: I hope you and your family are safe and practicing social distancing during this pandemic. I am sheltering in place with my partner in NYC, after a slow recovery from COVID-19 (super not fun – do not recommend). For the first time in my career I had work lined up – from July 2019 until September 2020 – and now everything has been cancelled for the forseeable future. The entire American Theatre is shut down, and we know that we will be among the last places to open when things return to “normal.” If you are in a position to give, please consider making a donation to your local theatre to help support them during this difficult time. If you’d like a suggestion, the theatres I was going to be working at this year, and who are hoping to be able to still mount these shows in the future, are Luna Stage (for the world premiere of Shruti Gupta Can Totally Deal), Hypokrit Theatre Company at New York Theatre Workshop NextDoor (for Raisins Not Virgins), and Cal Shakes (for the world premiere of 1001 Nights: A Retelling).
- September 17-December 8: I’m so grateful that my first time working on a play with a cast comprised entirely of women+ was the world premiere of Kate Attwell’s Testmatch directed by Pam MacKinnon at San Francisco’s American Conservatory Theater. Read more about our process on the NEWS page!
- July 12-September 8: I was overJOYed to have worked on the world premiere of Madhuri Shekar’s House of Joy, directed by Megan Sandberg-Zakian at California Shakespeare Theater! Read more about our process, the production, and our EXTENSION on the NEWS page!
- June 24: It was so nice to have some time between gigs to focus on a passion project – Voices of Tulia, the musical I’m co-writing with Jessie Field and Jared Field! Today, Boomerang Theatre Company hosted a very successful table reading of our second draft. We learned a LOT, and are quite excited for our TWO upcoming residencies (with Fresh Ground Pepper and Barn Arts Collective) to get us to a solid draft 3 – this time, with music!
- June 18-23: I did a workshop on Governor’s Island through Rising Sun Performance Company of Divya Mangwani’s new play Yes, Uncle directed by Kate Moore Heany! It was so wonderful to reunite with these fierce ladies again, and to channel my inner 12-year old in this haunting and haunted piece.
- March 11-May 5: It made my *heart* so happy to be part of Heartland! (See what I did there? ;-p) I was delighted to join the Luna Stage family for the regional premiere of Gabriel Jason Dean’s beautiful play directed by my dear friend – and Luna’s new Artistic Director! – Ari Laura Kreith, alongside brilliant actors Kareem Badr and Brian Corrigan. Check out the News, Press, and Gallery pages for a look at the show.
- January-February: I spent the first 3 weeks of 2019 on a much-needed vacation in CHILE (penguins, mountains, moai, beaches, and wine galore!) and came back to an flurry of new play development – my favorite thing! Such a joy to collaborate in the room on Elyria by Deepa Purohit at Ma-Yi Theater Company, Compound North by Christopher Gabriel Núñez at Yale’s MFA Playwriting Department, Raisins Not Virgins by Sharbari Ahmed as part of Hypokrit Theatre Company‘s “Tamasha Nights” festival, and Midsouthern Night Dreams by Kristen Palmer at Boomerang Theatre Company.
- November-December: After India Pale Ale closed, I spent the rest of 2018 doing a ton of new play development, including for [The Cow Swallows Its Tail] and Yes, Uncle (both by Divya Mangwani), and The Knot by Liz Maestri. I also recorded a fun role for season 3 of the Peabody Award-winning scripted podcast, The Unexplainable Disappearance of Mars Patel, which began airing recently!
- September 4-November 18: After a year workshopping this beautiful play, I’m so grateful to have had the chance to perform it for real. What a treat to share the story of the Batra family and friends in Jaclyn Backhaus’s India Pale Ale Off-Broadway at Manhattan Theatre Club, directed by Will Davis. What a joy to bring Lovi to life every night and learn about loss and resilience with her. We closed yesterday and I already miss my cast and crew. Check out the Press page and Gallery for a peek at the show <3
- June 11-August 4: What a wonderful summer of new play development AKA MY FAVORITE THING EVER!! More info is on my NEWS page, but here’s a quick summary: joined the cast of Bhangin’ It for a two-week DANCE/CHOREOGRAPHY workshop, courtesy of Project Springboard at Lincoln Center (book by Rehana Lew Mirza and Mike Lew and lyrics/music by Sam Willmott; directed by Amy Anders Corcoran; choreographed by Rujuta Vaidya); two-week Powerhouse Theater workshop of Jaclyn Backhaus’s India Pale Ale, directed by Will Davis and featuring a kick-ass cast; week-long writing retreat in Worcester, MA with my collaborators Jessie and Jared Field to get some work done on the musical we’re writing; back in Minneapolis with my home-away-from-home Mixed Blood Theatre, doing a series of staged readings of Complications, a play about implicit bias in the medical community.
- March 19-May 20: My first two-hander and first foray into hybrid theatre: Assembled Identity at HERE Arts Center!! Mariana Newhard and I played twin sisters who discover they’re clones – and then we also portrayed all the clones. Created by Mariana, Purva Bedi, and Kristin Marting (who also directs), “AI” explored identity and who gets to define it. It was terrific fun and a great learning experience!
- February 6-12: I got to return to Manhattan Theatre Club for a week, to be part of a workshop of Jaclyn Backhaus‘s new play India Pale Ale, which will premiere this fall at MTC directed by Will Davis! The workshop culminated in a public presentation of our work as part of the Ted Snowden Reading Series. It was a fantastic week of play, exploration, interrogation, and laughs.
- January: Happy New Year!! I’m starting this year off by jumping back in to the world of Rachel: the Musical. We’ll be doing some development work at the JDT Lab at Guild Hall in East Hampton, NY followed by a couple performances of this new version at Union Congregational Church in Montclair, NJ. Check out the News page for more info!
- October 16-December 10: I headed back to Minneapolis’s Mixed Blood Theatre Company, my home away from home, to perform in the award-winning show The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, directed by the inimitable Jack Reuler. And guess what?? For the first time in Mixed Blood’s Radical Hospitality program history, a show EXTENDED for one week!!! I layered up and hunkered down for the beginnings of my first Twin Cities “winter” and had a grand ol’ time with my amazing cast and crew. Check out the Gallery for some production photos!
- July 17-August 20: Rachel: the Musical came BACK!! We had three performances at Hudson Guild Theatre as part of New York Theatre Festival’s 2017 Summerfest. I’m so excited to have had the chance to tell Rachel Carson’s story again, in an updated version of the show – we dubbed it “more science, less men.”
- May 30-July 16: Baby’s first UNDERSTUDY gig!! I’m so excited to have understudied the role of Jess in Martyna Majok’s heartbreaking new play Cost of Living directed by Jo Bonney at…*drumroll please*… Manhattan Theatre Club!!! It was such a privilege to work at this NYC institution, and with such incredibly talented people.
- May 1: Spent the prior week doing a 29-hour workshop of a new musical, Bhangin’ It, with book by Rehana Lew Mirza and Michael Lew and music/lyrics by Sam Willmott aka some of my favorite people to collaborate with EVER. The 29 hours culminate in a staged reading – with music! – of their hilarious and heartfelt piece.
- April 21: Dusted off my American Red Cross spokesperson hat and shot 2 segments for the Dr. Oz Show about the importance of learning how to perform CPR and use an AED.
- March: I’m back in New York, and that means I’m back in the booth! So far I have: booked a recurring voice role on a season of a beloved animated series and recorded my first two video games!
- January 9-February 20: I came to Rochester, New York to perform in Rajiv Joseph’s The Lake Effect, directed by Pirronne Yousefzadeh at the Geva Theatre Center!! I’ve been wanting to do this play since it premiered in 2013 and am SO EXCITED to finally have the opportunity to do so!
- 2017: New year, new goal…I’m venturing into the content creation side of things! Super excited to collaborate with my brilliant director friend Ari Laura Kreith to adapt Marina Budhos‘s young adult novel Ask Me No Questions into a one-woman show. Starring me. GULP.
- October 17-December 5: I’m in Minneapolis! Working on a new Aditi Kapil play, a world premiere called Orange! At my theatre home away from home, Mixed Blood. If you’re near the Twin Cities – come join us 🙂 More info HERE. I’ve posted some production photos to my gallery page.
- September 25-October 2: I get to spend this whole week at the Barn Arts Collective in Acadia National Park, Maine!!! With wonderful, lovely humans!! Working on a beautiful, challenging new play! Thank you Tim J. Lord and Nicole A. Watson for bringing me up there with you for the adventure 🙂 New play development is the best.
- September 23: I recently began doing some voiceover work for NYAV Post, a wonderful recording studio here in the city. Today, I recorded episode 4 of Mobile Suit Gundam: The Origin as the new voice of Lalah Sune!! Are you a fan of the original? I hope you enjoy my work in the prequel 🙂 The series website is HERE and if you click HERE you can hear my voice in the trailer!
- July 3-9: Traveling to Hanover, NH to workshop a new folk opera at Darmouth’s VoxFest. I’m really jazzed about this project because the music is a collaboration between the DC-based folk band Gramophonic and Phoenix-based Afghani Rabab virtuoso Qais Essar, and the story is just BEAUTIFUL.
- July-September: Baby’s first narration job! I am both an actor and an instructor/spokesperson for the American Red Cross, and I’m SO STOKED to merge my worlds as the narrator for the new ARC Lifeguard Training program!! You’ll be able to hear (and see!) me when the program rolls out in 2017 🙂
- May 22: The night of the Fresh Fruit Festival Awards of Distinction Gala, AKA the night I take home my very first acting award- Outstanding Featured Performance as Marie Rodell in Rachel: The Musical! Excited, honored, humbled 🙂 Check out my News page for a video of my performance at the ceremony!
- April 4-May 16: Hello from sunny Naples, Florida!! I’m working at Gulfshore Playhouse, a lovely regional theater (that happens to be 8 blocks from the BEACH), on Ayad Akhtar’s brilliant play The Who and The What. I’ve been wanting to do this show since it premiered in 2014 and I’m so excited to finally have the chance. Follow me on Facebook and Twitter for daily updates from the rehearsal room! And in case you’re in Florida…click HERE for ticket info!
- January 25-29: Have the privilege of working with The Public Theater (AKA an Actor MECCA) on a 29-hour workshop of a new musical being developed by an incredible director…who shall remain nameless, for now. I’m stoked!
- 2016: I’ll spend the first half of this year doing the final ADR touches on a new cartoon series, Regal Academy on Nickelodeon!! Catch us Saturday mornings at 8am 🙂
- November 1, 2015: This is absolutely not actor-news but who cares- today I ran my first MARATHON!! 26.2 miles through the streets of NYC and I smiled like a maniac the whole way. What an incredible day!!