I was born in San Francisco, California. Growing up an only child, I spent many hours trying to entertain myself. I tried things like soccer, t-ball, and ballet. My parents promptly realized they’d be saving me a whole lot of energy and humiliation if they encouraged their uncoordinated little nugget to pursue a less athletic hobby.
I danced. I acted. I played. I have very clear memories of re-enacting “The Colors of the Wind” in my backyard. To this day I can’t pinpoint when entertainment became my life. I think it has something to do with getting stuck in a baby swing at 12 and being stuck for so long I wet my pants. Entertainment didn’t become my life, my life became entertainment.
I’ve always done things a little different. I never learned how to ride a bike. I never got my ears pierced. I’m the only quarter-chinese Jew I know. If you identify in this category, please introduce yourself to me. I’m dying to meet another one. Until recently I had never met another female “AJ” (as I am affectionately called by friends and family). As is normal for theatre kids, I grew up making my own way.
After getting my parents to agree to let me go to boarding school, I spent 4 years at The Millbrook School in New York. After graduating in 2007 with the best friends I’ll ever make, I went to Chapman University’s College of Performing Arts in Orange, California. Throughout my freshman year in the acting program, I had amazing professors and made lifelong friends. A short couple of months in LA and I realized that Southern California was not the right environment for me. I transferred into the Theatre Studies program at The Theatre School at DePaul University.
Here, my passion took off. Over my three years at The Theatre School I had the good fortune to work on multiple productions, take incredibly challenging courses and create a network of artists, peers, and mentors that continue to inspire me daily. In addition to finessing my love for the arts, I was surprised to discover a passion for African/Black Diaspora studies and completed over six courses in the ABD department. I continue to be interested in how these two passions mingle.
I graduated Magna Cum Laude in June 2011 with a BFA in Theatre Arts. I am currently working on projects throughout the city at various theatres and have been able to start some freelance Dramaturgy and facilitation work. I am always looking for new inspiration, projects, free theatre, and friends in this great city of Chicago.
To all you artists out there trying to make your way, do it. “Luck” is having the confidence in yourself to make your own opportunities. As a favorite high-school professor told me, the only way to go through life is “sin miedo” – without fear.