I’m a theater producer. I started in the non-profit world and then opened my own shop to produce commercial theater.
I went to college for musical theater and came to New York as an actor. My whole plan had been to make a name for myself and then go have steady work in a regional theatre and have my family. New York had never held any allure for me. But what happened was, I auditioned and rehearsed and temped and all that stuff, and I hated it but loved New York. I felt frustrated. I didn’t have the time or money to do anything. It wasn’t sustainable. I was at the whim of other people.
I left the theater and found my way into non-profit work with UJA Federation of New York, as a fundraiser. I did that for a few years. I worked for a few other non-profits and then got a job with Weight Watchers in licensing and branding. It wasn’t my passion, but I learned a lot. I was also going through a divorce, so I needed to recalibrate.
A few years later, I became engaged to my (now) husband and we proceeded to start a family together. We have three children together, plus two children from his first marriage. After my second child was born, I realized I was missing the connection I had had to theater and the work that went into creating a show. I joined the Board of an Off-Broadway company, The Transport Group, and eventually was named Board Chair. It was around this time that a friend who is also in the industry, introduced me to someone as a producer. “I’m not a producer,” I said. “I mean, sometimes I produce things…” I had done school fundraisers, and readings for the theater company. I’d helped to develop a few new shows. She said, “That’s what a producer does.”
It was like this little earworm that wouldn’t get out of my head. I thought, this might be everything. The marketing and branding, the theater and fundraising—all of it. It didn’t feel like a big decision. It felt like putting all of my pieces together.
For my first show on Broadway, I worked on a chunk of the financing. I was there through the creative process, but in a very hands-off way. Now I’m more involved creatively. Sometimes it’s shepherding a writer who has an idea for something; or I have an idea and want to put together a team and see where it goes. Ultimately I’d like to spend about 80% of my time developing works and 20% in the financing piece.
I love the split between the business side and the creative side. When I’m at the end of my rope, figuring out the diplomatic way to say, “You have to change this,” I can shift gears and go make sure the budgets are working. There are so many options in the way a show gets produced. It’s like those choose-your-own-adventure books. I have a great responsibility to the creators and the investors.
I love that I now get to say, “This is what’s important to me. This is what I want to put out there.” And I’m really interested in the stories that women are writing. I’m hyper-aware that a lot of the stories being told, even if they’re about women, are told from the point of view of men. It feels different when women tell the stories. Let’s see some interesting women written by interesting women. Nora can’t be the only one who gets to slam the door.
Interviewed on March 6, 2019