In 1998, I graduated from TFA and never imagined the impact I would discover that it had on my life. The influences of friends and teachers have gone way beyond the walls of the classroom or the grass on the practice fields. It was a special time that feels encapsulated in many ways but still somehow relevant. After graduation, I went on to get my BFA in Acting on an merit and academic scholarship from Wright State University in Dayton, OH. During college summers, I worked at regional theaters, where I met my eventual husband, Eric Petersen. Together, we graduated from our apprenticeships in acting to become members of the resident Actor’s Equity Company at The Barn Theater (MI) over the course of 7 years.
Moving to New York City in my 20’s, I earned my living doing theatre and worked my way up from doing Children’s Theater, to eventually being part of the popular “Mamma Mia” franchise in the cast of the long-running Las Vegas production of that Broadway Show at Mandalay Bay Theater. Eric and I got married in 2007 and in 2009 we were promoted to parenthood when we got pregnant with our first child, Sophia. For a while longer, I continued to work as an actor, but I soon felt God’s calling for me to do something else with my career. During this same time, my husband Eric was blessed with some great jobs which propelled him to begin starring in shows on Broadway and TV. Sophie’s first year was spent traveling on the road while Eric played Shrek in the Broadway Musical’s First National Tour. After prayerful consideration during that year, I went back to school through UCLA Extension for Early Childhood Education.
During the first years of Sophia’s childhood, I developed a company called Broadway Bouncers in Los Angeles, where we were living at the time, which focused on incorporating Early Childhood Development Objectives with Musical Theater. Recently, we moved back to NYC for Eric to star in “School of Rock” on Broadway and I have been blessed to work for New York Preschool as a Lead Teacher, where Miles (our 3-year-old son) comes with me to school each day. Our neighborhood of the Upper West Side has an amazing church called Redeemer Presbyterian, where I get to volunteer weekly with the children’s ministry and Sophie goes to an awesome public school, where I volunteer as the co-chair for the yearly auction, bridging the gap for the programs the Department of Education can no longer fund. The spiritual foundation that was built in me during my time at TFA has been a cornerstone to my navigation of the rocky seas which define the business of Acting. Teachers like Scott Toenges and our World Religions class helped me to have a unique understanding of my own religion as well as others, giving me the confidence to own my Christianity.
The friendships forged and creativity fostered as part of Thespian Troupe 5165 gave me the confidence to pursue my dreams, as I had my first opportunity as a director of our school play my senior year. The trips to NYC with Mr. Territo and Ms. Livesay my junior and senior years are when I fell in love with the place I now call home. Dr. Walton, our principal at the time, is one of the most memorable to me though as he set an example of leadership by listening, evolving and making decisions that were beyond his own interest. Cathy Charlton lead a prayer group during school with myself and two other students, who remain close friends of mine and 20 years later, I just had one of these friends and her daughter come and stay with us for a weekend. The years are long, but the bonds are strong. I’m grateful for the ties that bound us together and keep us connected.