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Serene Gradient

faq & free resources

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  • This is all really overwhelming. That's it. I don't have a question.
    Folk, I feel you. It is stresssssssssful. That's why I aim to take as much of that pressure off of you as I can. You just do your job as an actor. Let me worry about whether the pieces are right for you, if it's what schools want to see, if you're being affective, etc. I got you.
  • When are pre-screens due?
    Well, that depends. For Musical Theatre, aim for anywhere from September 15 - December 1. For Acting, aim for November 1-December 1. Some schools don't require pre-screens; so for those places, aim for being ready in mid-January!
  • Does having a professional headshot matter for college auditions?
    Nope! Get yourself a professional headshot if you’re going to school in NYC, NJ or LA. This way, you can start going out on auditions. If you’re not going to school at any of these places, and even if you are, don’t worry about it.
  • When should I start prepping?
    It's really all about what you feel you need. There's no right answer; but I will say, try not to start any later than August. Think of it as if you're training for the Olympics. An athlete trains to peak in their sport at the time of the competitions. This is essentially what I do as your coach. I train you to peak during pre-screen season, and then for whichever Unifieds and callbacks you go to in the winter (or fall, if that's your plan). It can be really helpful to start lessons with me sooner rather than later. I recommend starting during your junior year. This way, we can instill good habits and work on elements of your craft that might be hindering you. I'll get to know you as a person and an actor, seeing all of your school and community shows, making sure what we're working on is translating. Then, in the summer, we choose monologues, work them, learn them, give these characters time to marinate and sink in. You'll have your songs, we'll do some character work on those and acting through song if you need it (especially for in front of the camera). I'll tell you when I think you need to take a break, or perhaps one session we just do some much needed grounding work. What it comes down to is that we're not just coaching the monologues; we're coaching the whole artist. The result of all of this is that the art is then lived in, juicy and fun! All that said, everyone's timeline and needs are vastly different; so if you come to me eight weeks before your auditions, we'll make it work! It's been done before and with excellent acceptances - everyone's different!
  • Will you write my recommendation?
    Yes! BUT I need to have known and worked with you for at least six months. How can I sing your praises if I don't know you, what makes you cool, how a school can help you grow, etc.?
  • I already bought a package with someone else, but I'm not happy. Can you help me?
    Of course. Reach out and we can figure something out. I am incredibly aware of how expensive this process can be and care more about your future and art than a couple more dollars in my pocket. Always make sure you can have a free consultation with anyone you plan on working with. Get their vibe. Get a sense for how they work. Does it mesh with yours? How do they teach and approach the work? If they'll be finding your monologues for you, how do they go about this?
  • But won’t it seem unprofessional of me to not have a professional headshot?
    No. They simply want to have a clear, well-lit still image that looks like the person they see on the videos you send or when you they meet you in person. It helps jog their memory. Some schools then put everyone's photos together for the finalists and arrange folks around. These photos sometimes live on the backs of professors doors so they can remember who is in the upcoming class. HAVING A PROFESSIONAL HEADSHOT DOES NOT MEAN ANYTHING AND DOES NOT PUT YOU AHEAD. Do you want to go to a school that says, “well I really liked Sally’s audition and I think she might be a good fit for our school, but she used her school photo for her headshot, so I don’t think we’ll let her in.”? I mean if you do, great, go for it. But for me personally, I don’t know if I’d get the best training at a place that puts more importance on this stuff than on the craft. All of this surface stuff does not matter as much as people who want your money want you to think. It’s the craft. It’s the heart. It’s the gut. It’s activating “the other” across from you. However, if having all this really professional surface stuff makes you feel really good and together and quells your anxiety, go for it! It won't harm you.
  • Do I need to have my pre-screens professionally recorded?
    Absolutely not! I personally love to coach young actors through their pre-screens and make sure we have ample time to reshoot things if we want. You wanna come back next week and go again? Great, let's do it! It can feel super daunting and pressured suddenly getting in front of the camera and lights for this thing you want so badly. As someone who does a lot of self-tapes as an actor, I know that many of us have a habit of looking back at the tape and criticizing every little thing. We then try to get it "right". All this gets us into our heads and we make it about ourselves rather than about the character. ​ So! All this to say - even if you don't come to me, just make sure your eyes can be seen, the light is good, your voice can be heard and that you have fun. Have someone behind the camera who is completely supportive of you who won't judge or criticize.
  • What should I wear to my first lesson?
    Athleisure, comfy clothes. Something you might wear to the gym. Something you can easily move around in without having to adjust much.
  • "You should have started training when you were in middle school in order to get into the best college programs or be an actor at all."
    NO. There is no “right” time to start training as an actor. Sure, if you decide when you’re 7 that you’re going to be an actor and that’s it, there’s nothing else for you, that’s great! Go with it! All in baby! But if you’re a sophomore in high school and you decided to take drama and realized omg I love this, then soak it up! I’ve done countless short films and plays with people who had completely different majors in undergrad or even grad school, and have become very successful actors. It's not about when you start, but about passion, drive and self-awareness.
  • Where do you hold lessons and coaching sessions?
    VIRGINIA I have an in-person studio at a private residence in Potomac Falls, VA, which includes a large, open space, as well as a cozy parents waiting area. This is also home to my self-tape studio, outfitted with all we need for college pre-screens, creating reel material and even record choir placement audition videos. For a small travel fee, I go select student's homes in Loudoun and Fairfax. Some families even coordinate with one another and have me come to their area on a certain evening each week, which is incredibly helpful :) NYC Sessions take place at student's homes (provided they have an open area in which to move) or at a private rehearsal studio. I tend to prefer Ripley Grier Studios in Midtown, as they also have a self-tape studio. EVERYWHERE ELSE Zoom!
  • But, this person that I know says, “You need to eat, sleep, live performing if you’re gonna make it.”
    NO. ABSOLUTELY POSITIVELY NO. This is the old school of thinking. It is an often harmful point of view that can perpetuate an unhealthy relationship with acting and art. Please have life experiences, that's what will make your acting more effective. Go be a Girl Scout, start that non-profit, try out for the swim team. Surround yourself with people from all walks of life. Hear their stories. Observe. Forget about acting for a month and play Minecraft. Please do not rob yourself of a life because someone tells you you must always be thinking of performing.
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about me

My training spans from Columbia University (MFA Acting, 2022) and Pace University (BFA Acting, 2012), to The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ (Apprenticeship) and The Atlantic Acting School (Evening Conservatory). At these programs and at other private studios, I’ve worked hands on and in-depth with techniques that cultivate emotional, physical and vocal freedom. Techniques include Alexander Technique, Meisner, Stanislavski, Feldenkrais, Michael Chekhov, Viewpoints, Laban, Linklater, Fitzmaurice, Improv and more.

I’ve had the honor of studying with some of the most innovative and respected acting teachers of our time, including Ron Van Lieu, Scott Zigler, Peter Jay Fernandez, Sita Mani, James Calleri, Bruce Cromer, Ellen Lauren, just to name a few.

 

As an actor, I have worked at Shakespeare Theatre Company, Mosaic Theatre Company, Virginia Stage Company, Toms River Shakespeare Festival, The Shakespeare Theatre of NJ, Adirondack Shakespeare Company, Punchdrunk (creators of Sleep No More), and many others. On TV, you can catch me on Investigation Discovery’s A Crime To Remember and Nick Jr.’s Team UmiZoomi. Films include countless student and short films over the years in NYC. At Columbia, I’ve been a part of the new play development process for many full length and one act plays.

I offer Coaching Sessionssupport and pre-screen recording throughout audition season for high school, undergrad and graduate school auditions. The general goal is to take the pressure off by beginning a young actor's higher education training journey. This results in actors already having the confidence to fail gloriously and be in process, which makes for dynamic and playful exploration in the room. With tons of positive reinforcement from me, actors are already in the good goo and figuring out who they are as artists when it's time to submit pre-screens and do live auditions.

 

I also offer Private Lessons for persons of any age and skill level who would like to learn technique, develop specifics of their physical instrument and how to think like an actor. Private Lessons are geared towards long term study and growth. They are also a great option for executives and folks who would like to cultivate a dynamic presence and improve public speaking.

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