Greetings, and thanks for visiting my (virtual) home away from home!
Since most credits can be found on my resumé, I thought I'd share some of the cool stuff you probably won't find elsewhere..
I grew up in Florida, Colorado and Hawai'i (which I still call home) and while we all come from a "unique family," in order to truly understand me, you should probably know that my father is a healer and my mother is a comedienne. From this dynamic duo sprang a desire to open hearts through the arts.
When I was six, I typed a letter to the producers of a local kids' show and they put me on as a regular (watch that here). More TV followed, including a commercial with "The Yankee Clipper," Joe DiMaggio.
I was 11 when Maureen Stapleton moved next door and got me my first bit part in a film — Cocoon: The Return. Though I didn't make the final cut, what I absorbed from her was the importance of mentorship (that stuck with me, and informs my teaching today). Plus, it was actors Iike "Mo," Dustin Hoffman and River Phoenix who made me feel less alone while watching them, and inspired me to pay that gift forward.
I was blessed to attend New World School of the Arts high school. One of the most powerful opportunities New World facilitated was my becoming a YoungArts winner. YoungArts cracked my heart open, and to this day, I encourage young actors to partake in their competition.
After high school, I moved to New York, then to LA — then to wherever I could train with teachers I loved and admired! London's Royal National Theatre and Complicité introduced me to classical and physical theatre, and another mentor, Judi Dench. At Broadway Theatre Project, I apprenticed with Ann Reinking, John Kander, Ben Vereen. I received a scholarship to Aspen-Santa Fe Ballet, and spent seven years learning improv and sketch comedy at The Groundlings with genius-folk like Kristen Wiig — an incredible experience!
In 1998 and 2003, YoungArts opened yet another door — a chance to act at Sundance Theatre Lab, where I honed my craft working with actors like Viola Davis, Peter Dinklage and Sally Field. The Lab also fostered my love of developing new work, and I'm proud to have supported the development of more than 50 new plays and musicals since then.
A "watershed" moment in my musical theatre career was winning the Lotte Lenya Competition for Singers in 2005. One of the judges was legendary director/producer Harold Prince, who gave me my Broadway debut, LoveMusik. The Competition opened many more doors, including the chance to study with master clown teacher, Philippe Gaulier, in Paris. I talk about its impact on my career in this documentary.
I've had some pretty remarkable experiences since then (from performing for President Barack Obama to directing the legendary Chita Rivera, who inspired me to pursue musical theatre in the first place) but wanted to share some of the early mile-markers because they often get lost in the shuffle... From them, we create a blueprint for our lives — and from them, I identified my mission: to inspire transformation through the arts, and leave things better than I found them. This constitutes all I do today, from the arts to environmental and political activism.
Thanks you again for visiting and have fun exploring the site!