Interviewed by: Neely Eisenstein, CSA
1) Has there been a Casting Director that has encouraged and/or supported you in your career?
Barbie Block and I recently did a general and talked for over an hour. She’s a casting legend to me, having cast everything I loved watching while growing up. I used to cry wanting to be on the Disney channel and here I was listening to her say amazing, supportive, and mind-blowing things about my talent and person all these years later. Full circle moment.
Bret Howe has been super kind and helpful to me. We’ve worked on a few projects but have yet to meet in person. Despite that, he’s happily offered his help and support in my rep search, and responds to emails with warmth.
Roger Becker was a CD I went in for constantly. He wrote me an incredible post-class assessment over a decade ago that I still have to this day, and sent me to my first voice over agents. Fast forward to this spring, he now owns a voice over agency and is my new voice over rep. Another full circle moment.
Melissa Morris at Boston Casting helped me with my contract for Knives Out. It was my first movie, my first SAG-AFTRA job, and I was doing it without any reps. She was so patient, thorough, answered all my questions, and made me feel at ease.
Neely Eisenstein is the latest in a long line of supportive casting directors. We just met last month and she’s quickly become an awesome support and friend. Her thoughtfulness and generosity are present in every interaction. I couldn’t be more grateful.
I often give thanks for the casting director who cast me in my first Broadway tour. He cast me from the open tour as a then non-union actor and I was the only person out of over 800 people they saw that booked it from that open call. He no longer casts but that job changed my life and I can track nearly my entire career (and deeply significant relationships) back to that tour.
There have been so many CDs who bring me in over and over for projects and have offered referrals, which are incredible gifts. It’s like a steady, quiet chant of “we believe in you”.
2) What work are you most proud of?
On screen, I’m most proud of playing Sally in Knives Out. It was my first movie and I held my own with that exceptional cast, on and off screen. My friend and constant collaborator, Rian Johnson, reminds me I turned three lines into tons of opportunities, press, and impact. He is quick to tell me it’s not him, but me that’s making this magic (although he writes the incredible words and creates the worlds I get to play in, of course).
On stage, I’m most proud of playing Shprintze, Tevye’s 4th youngest daughter, to three legendary Tevyes in Fiddler On The Roof: Topol, Harvey Fierstein, and Theo Bikel. Getting to do the 50th Anniversary in NYC introduced me to nearly every living Fiddler cast member, creatives, etc. My Fiddler roots go deep.
3) What or who inspired you to pursue acting as a career?
I’ve known since I was very young I’m meant to sing and act. I would cry watching TV and movies because I didn’t understand why other kids were in the tv and I wasn’t. My mom was an elementary school music teacher and recognized my singing talent (after hearing thousands of kids sing) and insisted I was classically trained vocally first. Have you ever heard an 11-year-old singing Italian arias all day and night? Totally normal. That gave me a strong foundation with my voice and breath control. She also played the piano and musical scores in our home constantly.
I spent one childhood summer watching an hour-long documentary on E! about child stars. I watched it every single day at noon and something clicked and I understood I could do this as a job. I started cold pitching reps because of that documentary (again, totally normal kid hobbies).
4) What was your first IMDBPro credit and how did you feel when you saw it?
My first was an independent film I’m not sure was completed. The next was for Knives Out and I felt like I had been holding my breath since I was a little kid and finally let it out. Being on IMDb felt solidifying.
5) How has IMDBPro helped you market yourself to filmmakers?
I use IMDbPro with the frequency others use Door Dash or Uber (I don’t even have those apps). I’m a walking IMDb encyclopedia. This has helped me at Q&A’s/events when I meet industry. It’s fun to bring up an obscure project I loved them in or a unique relationship we share. I use it to find contact info and write folks I want to work with, do a call with, do an episode of a podcast, etc. The responses are encouraging and full of excitement that I cared enough to reach out. While in this season without reps, I use it to reach out to potential agents and managers. I've started to produce and utilize it for production company contacts. It's a constant resource.
It’s now working in reverse where I hear from people who admire my work, both industry and fans. When Poker Face came out earlier this year, I heard from a new slew of people, ranging from agents to people who just loved the show. There are no words to express how cool it is to be on the receiving end of these emails now. They note finding my contact from IMDb.
6) Any funny casting room stories?
I was in callbacks for an MTV New Year’s Eve promo collab with Geico. We had to sing Auld Lang Syne. Once I finished, all the team wanted to hear about was working with Topol. I booked it. Another story that stands out was my first Broadway callback. I flew to LA from the Broadway tour I was on and the casting director looked at me, scanned my resume and said, “you’re perfect for this and I’m really behind on time. I already know I want to call you back, let’s skip this part.” My first Broadway callback was without even opening my mouth.
7) Tell us a fun fact about you outside of acting:
Dogs are my love language. I have a weird hobby (notice a trend?) of helping people learn how to adopt/foster, and find local rescues/shelters if they're interested in that route but don't know where to start. My dog, my best friend, passed a year ago. He changed my life a million times. My writer/director debut came from this loss and is currently in post. I ask to pet nearly every dog I see so if you ever run into a girl who is singing Italian arias or musical theatre songs as she bounds up to pet your dog, you’ll know it's me.
Thanks for taking the time for reading this.
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