55 Enought About Me! What About You? with Diana Wilde

Diana Headshot 2014

I met Diana when we were performing in MID-LIFE! The Crisis Musical in 2010. She currently lives in Minnesota, and works as an actor there as well as regionally. One of my favorite evenings in NYC was spent with her, but more on that story later.

I am pleased to introduce you to Diana Wilde!

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115 ‘The Tethering’ Author Interview with Megan O’Russel

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I primarily know you as a theater actor. When did you decide to add writing to your repertoire?

I’ve always enjoyed writing. But I started working on The Tethering during a production of Wizard of Oz. The production was great, but since I was playing the tallest munchkin in OZ, I needed an artistic outlet. I started with one scene, and the rest of the book grew from there.

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145 Enough About Me! What About You? – With Sheldon Rogers

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I met Sheldon in 2010 when we crossed over at a theater in Arizona. He obliged to an interview, and I recently ran into him at Shetler Studios so I can report that he alive and well. I am pleased to introduce Sheldon Rogers!

When did you move to NYC and why?

I moved to the city for the first time in September 2010. I was between contracts in Pennsylvania and frankly, I wanted to come to NYC instead of going home. I just wanted to see what it was like, so I subletted a room from my best friend for a couple months. I’ve been moving back and forth between contracts ever since.

What borough and neighborhood do you call home?

I live in Brooklyn on the edge of Flatbush and Midwood.

Any advice to someone thinking about moving here?

Firstly, as wonderfully Bohemian as it might seem to pack up your car with the essentials and just move here and trust God or the Universe to make things work for you, you won’t make it unless one of those essentials is a healthy savings or bank account. Following a dream also includes preparing properly to make that dream happen. And unfortunately, most dreams take money. I personally think a good rule of thumb would be to set a minimum and a maximum rent budget, multiply your maximum by six, and don’t move until you’ve got that much saved up. When you do move, search for apartments that fall somewhere between your minimum and your maximum. If you move to the city with six months of expense money and hit the ground running you should be fine.

Speaking of hitting the ground running, my second piece of advice would be to really hit the ground running. Before you move, figure out what you want from NYC and go for it as soon as you get here. New York is a wonderful place and it is full of opportunities for everyone in virtually every profession. But, those opportunities only rise up to meet you if you are on their path and you’re going after what you want. In order to make your dreams a reality you have to have a plan of action. Every morning when you wake up, ask yourself, “What can I do for my career today?” And go do it.

Do you feel like a New Yorker?

I feel like a New Yorker in the sense that I hate Times Square, know where I’m going on the subway, and pretty much can’t eat pizza anywhere else anymore. I feel like a New Yorker in a Robin Scherbatsky kind of way.  But I’ll always be a Southern boy at heart.

Aside from acting, do you have a survival job?

Yes! I’ve been serving for a Belgian chain restaurant, Le Pain Quotidien, since 2012. I’m also a box office assistant for Second Stage Theatres. I’m aiming to start offering affordable photos for actors, musicians, and engagements as well. Anyone who reads this and is interested can contact me at PhotographyBySLR@gmail.com for rates. I also have a Facebook page here.

What is your favorite thing about living in the city?

This might be a cliché, but I really love the diversity of this city. I love that I can walk down 9th Avenue and get anything my heart desires for dinner. I love living in a neighborhood with Russian Orthodox families and old Jewish women. New York really is a huge melting pot and I think it’s a necessity of anyone who lives here to take advantage of that. There are so many great experiences at your fingertips. It would be such a shame not to explore them.

What is your least favorite thing about living in the city?

Honestly? The smell of the streets in the summer is pretty terrible. The only other thing I don’t love about the city is those people who have been here long enough to let the city turn them into bitter, negative versions of themselves. It’s easy to let it get to you, so it’s important to stay positive.

How long do you see yourself here?

I like to keep that question open-ended. I’ll be here until it’s no longer part of God’s plan for my life. That could be because I’m not happy here anymore, or because I decided to settle down and start a family, or because some other huge opportunity comes along and takes me elsewhere. Part of me thinks that putting a deadline on my time here puts a lot of pressure on me to succeed. And with that pressure comes the tendency to view little victories as insignificant instead of steps in the right direction. Having an open schedule and an open mind for whatever opportunities might come along leaves lots of room for things to happen the way they should organically.

So the short answer is: until further notice.

What is your next theatrical/artistic endeavor?

I’m hoping to get a Christmas gig with Spirit Productions. I recently had the opportunity of performing a show with them and had an absolute blast. I’d love to go back again.

Other than that, I’m keeping an eye on auditions and brushing up my skills as much as possible. I’ve been fortunate enough to have relatively consistent work since graduating from college, so this break is much needed.

What is the craziest/best/worst thing that has happened to you since you moved to NYC?

Best? Getting an agent. I came to the city on a whim for an open call with Daniel Hoff Agency last summer. I didn’t expect to get it because I sort of thought I didn’t have enough credits to really be an asset to their team. But it went really well and they took me on as a freelance client. Having someone in your corner is always a great thing.

Craziest? Last fall, I was at my friend’s bar in Midtown. I was sitting at the bar enjoying a drink with another friend when a blonde girl came and wedged her way up to the bar. She was really in my bubble, and in true New York fashion, my body language quickly suggested I didn’t want her in my grill…until I realized she was a childhood friend of mine! We had lost touch since we played the Lost Boy twins in a county production of Peter Pan, but she was still the same old Alison. New York is perfect for experiences like that. I run into people I haven’t seen in years all of the time.

Worst? I’d have to say getting kidney stones. As awful as that is to begin with, add being all alone and sick and not having your mom to bring you soup and water made it worst thing ever.

That and the time a bird pooped in my quesadilla at Blockhead’s.

For more on Sheldon:

sheldonlrogers.com

https://www.facebook.com/pages/SLR-Photography/110570032311534

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159 Enough About Me! What About You? With Summer Dawn Wallace

I met Summer Dawn in 2006, when I played her Mother in Sanders Family Christmas at Cumberland County Playhouse. When I found out she was leaving NYC and starting a theater company in Sarasota, I wanted to pick her brain. Meet Summer Dawn Wallace.

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When did you move to NYC and why?

I moved to NYC in the fall of 2003. I had befriended and connected with an actress from New York during a production of Parade down in south Florida earlier that year. She called and said the now infamous, “I need a subleaser”, and at the time I was just finishing up a contract and had nothing on the horizon. I was scared to death, but said yes, and moved to the city with one suitcase and $3,000. It was a difficult decision as I had worked quite steadily regionally and in the Florida market, but knew it was now or never. So I made myself take the NYC plunge.

My first sublease was on 33rd and Ditmars in Astoria.  I’ll never forget my first day in Queens.  I was walking to ride the subway for the first time and there was ancient old lady sweeping while the Godfather theme song was playing from a local restaurant. I managed to get on the subway and I was very nervous and made the mistake of smiling at a man who then flashed me.  Welcome to New York!

Do you have any advice for a NYC newbie, or someone contemplating a move to NYC?

To a first timer or anyone thinking of moving to the city, my biggest advice would be to wait and save up some money before you come. It will make life easier and the initial hustle less of a struggle. Use your resources! I just got an actor friend a job at a place I worked for 5 years ago. If you don’t ask for help, no one will know you need it!

Also experience the city! Be a tourist!

You left NYC for grad school and then came back. Was there a readjustment period when you returned to NYC?

I left the city to go to graduate school in 2010 at FSU/Asolo Conservatory for Actor Training. My background had been in musical theatre, but I wanted to shift into classical theatre, and really develop a craft. Graduate school isn’t for everyone, but leaving the city for 3 years just to focus on myself, and acting without distraction was an amazing opportunity.

Coming back to the city after graduating was a huge transition in that I had been on this amazing artistic journey, surrounded by people who were deeply committed and passionate about their craft, and then it’s back to reality. No one in the industry in NYC cared that I went to grad school.

It also took me a second to realize that I was free, and I got my life outside of theatre life back.

What was your favorite thing about NYC?

My favorite thing about NYC is that I could go to an audition, see a show, take a class, discover a new coffee shop or boutique, see a man walking around with a cat on his head, and hear amazing music all in one day! There is access to everything.

What was your least favorite thing about NYC?

My least favorite thing about NYC was the lack of connection with my environment or people around me. Also as a female, the day-to-day stuff you have to hear walking on the street is dreadful.

ALSO grocery shopping!!! Praise Jesus for Fresh Direct!!

What made you decide to go to Sarasota and start a new theater company?

Prior to graduate school, during and after, I continued to have the overwhelming sensation to take control of my own artistic path and my life.

After attending an NYC EPA where I got to Equity at 8:30am in the morning, and couldn’t get an appointment until 4:30pm, it truly hit home that there had to be a better way than this. That moment was the beginning of the push to listen to what I really wanted, artistically and in my day-to-day, and I knew that was not in NYC. I was just as scared to leave NYC, as I was to move to NYC in 2003.

Creating my own artistic opportunities and well-being became much more important than auditioning. So I made the goals of financial freedom and artistic freedom, and then followed my gut. I turned down a season of acting work to take a brand rep/sales position on a cruise ship which in turn I paid off all of my debt. I wanted to quit that job so many times, but I made a vision board with my goals on it, and would repeat to myself, “financial and artistic freedom”, every day. I made my first goal, and left the ship. Then I made my second gold when my fiancé and I came to Sarasota on a long overdue vacation, and decided to stay.

I began to pursue acting work in the Florida market, signed with an agent, and began the process of creating artistic opportunities. I had a hunch that the Sarasota community was in need and open to a theatre space that would offer contemporary works and more cutting edge material, so I pursued it.

In exploring renting possible spaces to rent, I developed a relationship with a real estate developer. I reached out to a fellow Asolo Conservatory alum, and together we started a 501 (c)(3) theatre company, Urbanite Theatre. The developer is donating the use of a black box theatre space that will begin construction later this summer.

The biggest advice I can give anyone is to make things happen for you artistically. Mr. DeMille nor Broadway was going to call anytime soon, and as opposed to languishing, I just did it myself. I may fail, but the learning experience thus far has been worth every sacrifice.

Regional theater has been in a state of flux with a thinning audience and disappearing funds. How will you tackle those issues at Urbanite Theatre?

In starting the company, we had to ask ourselves does the Sarasota community need another theatre and how can we immerse ourselves into that community?  In order for the Urbanite and theatre itself to be successful, we must develop new theatre goers. Ticket prices must be affordable, material must appeal to a younger generation, and all should feel welcome.

One of the most exciting things about the London theatre scene is that it is just that, you are part of a theater and social scene. You go to the pub, see a show, grab dinner, and so on. As a company, we are hoping to become part of that social scene in Sarasota.

It is going to be an uphill battle and a balancing act, but we believe we can do it. This will require us networking with every young professional group, meeting young people, business owners, and pounding the pavement in a different way.

What does Sarasota have that NYC doesn’t?

Siesta Key!

But in reality, I love Sarasota as it’s a beautiful city. It has fabulous restaurants, shops, a healthy lifestyle, slower pace and a TREMENDOUS SUPPORT for the arts. There is so much art to choose from. We have Sarasota Opera, Asolo Rep, Florida Studio, West Coast Black Troupe, two amazing community theaters, Ringling Art Museum, art galleries, Sarasota Ballet, Sarasota Circus and the list gives on.

But, for me the biggest difference is a huge sense and responsibility to the community itself. It is also an affordable city and a wonderful place to raise a family.

What was the craziest thing that happened to you while living in NYC?

What didn’t happen at one point?!

One of my funniest memories was when I was moving to go to grad school, and I gave my furniture to a fellow actor. We were too cheap to rent a truck so we dollied everything from 28th and 5th over to 43rd and 9th straight through midtown. We made 7 trips! I wanted to yell to the tourists taking pictures of Time Square that we were the real NYC, not the flashy lights. I also shared a cab with Martha Stuart during the transit strike. And I almost killed Jane Fonda with my umbrella when I got blown across the street during a downpour!

Check out Urbanite Theatre (click on the links below):

HOMEPAGE

HERALD TRIBUNE ARTICLE

YOUR OBSERVER ARTICLE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

222 Enough About Me! What About You? – Amanda Pulcini

This is the first of my interview series that I will be conducting once a month to grill New Yorkers (past and present) about their lives in the greatest city on earth (that’s still up for debate). Many thanks to Amanda Pulcini for being my first interviewee! Amanda and I met at Allenberry Playhouse, where we worked a summer season together.
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