My first introduction to Shakespeare? Playing Hermia in a gender-swapped production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. In the cafeteria after a performance, a Richard Cameron meets Draco Malfoy type came up to me: “Don’t take this the wrong way, but do you know who Steve Buscemi is? You look just like him.” I was horrified. What insecure 17-year-old wants to be compared to Steve Buscemi? And what about me in a dress and a wig in a Shakespeare comedy made him think of Mr. Pink in Reservoir Dogs?
It wasn’t the last time I would be compared to an off-beat character actor.
At the College of the Holy Cross where I double majored in Theatre & Political Science? It was Don Knotts after a production of Brecht’s The Caucasian Chalk Circle, when I played the bumbling, dim-witted sidekick policeman, Shauva.
At Ohio University where I trained in the Meisner Technique and received my MFA in Acting? Michael Emerson after José Rivera's Marisol, when I played the sadistically possessive and heartbreakingly shattered psycopath, Lenny.
In NYC post-graduation? Michael Sheen after an Off Broadway production of Measure for Measure with New York Classical Theatre, when I played the flamboyantly fantastical man-about-town, Lucio.
In Regional Theatre? Jim Parsons after a production of The Liar at Centenary Stage Company, when I played the devilishly witty, whipsmart servant, Cliton.
I am no longer horrified by these comparisons, but inspired by the breadth of material that these actors have tackled in their careers, opening the doors for me to shape-shift through a diverse range of opportunities in my own career: comedy and drama, classical and contemporary, stage and screen.