Meet Our Staff
Jay is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts and is a 2011 Leadership LA Fellow. Among his other leadership training is LA County Arts Commission’s Arts Leadership Initiative, the Annenberg Leadership Institute, and the prestigious Stanford University Executive Program for Non-Profit Leaders, where Jay won a Center for Social Innovation Fellowship.
Jay has also been selected by the US State Department to serve as a Cultural Envoy to El Salvador, where he has performed and taught on three Central American tours. Jay won the Innovation and Leadership Award from USC’s Rossier School of Education for his work in Arts Education.
Debbie’s work as an actor has earned her three Drama-Logue Critics Awards, a Robby Award, an L.A. Weekly Award, LA Parent Magazine’s Best Westside Children’s Theatre Award, and the Women In Theatre Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Los Angeles Theatre. Debbie recently earned LA County Arts Commission’s Professional Designation in Arts Education, and is the recipient of the USC Rossier School of Education’s Innovation and Leadership Award, and won LA’s County Music Center’s 2001 Bravo Special Mention for her work in Arts Education. She is also the proud recipient of the 2011 Inspiring Women Award, presented by the LA Sparks and Farmers Insurance.
There is nothing like your first theatrical experience. Bring your kids to 24th ST Theatre. They’ll never forget their first time….or the next time or the next time!
How did you get your job at 24th ST? I moved from Chicago to LA in the summer of 2010. I came from working as an Administrative Assistant at a large non-profit theatre company there, and had also been freelancing as an Assistant Stage Manager on the side. I had left the career path of an Equity stage manager the year before and I knew I wanted to work in non-profit, possibly still in theatre. I had also toyed with the idea of going back to school to get a Masters in Teaching. I saw a posting for the Executive Assistant position at 24th Street and was instantly excited because it combined my two loves: theatre and kids. The Arts Education part of what 24th Street did really sold me on applying. I met Jay, Allegra and Meropi, the previous E.A. here, and was called in for a second interview the next week where I met Debbie. We were all instantly comfortable with each other, shared the same humor and work ethic, and soon after I was hired! Meropi was leaving for New York to attend graduate school at Columbia, so I had only 2 days to train with her. There is so much institutional knowledge in every person that works here, that this was a VERY short time to do this! My first year was spent learning every part of our programming, relationships, and work structure. I think after 2 years, I finally have most of it down and I have made the position my own!
Can you describe your job in one sentence? I’m the Taskmaster around here, but always trying to provide a little comic relief when needed!
What’s your favorite part of your job? There are 2 parts to my job that I like the most. As the Executive Assistant I spend a lot of time making sure that productions run smoothly from the minute we decide to do a show to the minute the curtain closes on it. My favorite part is the energy of Opening night, when we all watch to see our final product come to life in front of an audience for the first time. You discover so much that first night: laughs that you never thought would come at certain lines, tears during moving monologues, and things that you thought would work so well, absolutely failing. That’s part of the process too that people don’t always talk about. You learn that throughout the run, and without it you can’t grow artistically as a theatre producer. The second part of my job that I love is spending time with the kids in the neighborhood. Whether it’s during a field trip here for Enter Stage Right, during the afternoons once a week at After Cool, or when they simply stop in after school on their way home, it’s a nice little break from the pressures of the administration of a non-profit. Seeing a kid who was failing 2 semesters ago come in excited that she has A’s and B’s, or watching one of the “too cool” kids get excited about what they just saw on our stage…that’s what makes the long hours of preparation and hard work worth it.
What’s your favorite memory from working at 24th ST? There’s so many little moments all the time, some funny, some poignant, some heartbreaking, but I think my favorite may have been my first Day of the Dead celebration, three months after I started working at 24th Street. Seeing the entire neighborhood come out to celebrate the memory of their loved ones who had passed on in such a loving and joyous way, with music and altars and dance…it was unlike anything I have ever been a part of. That’s really when I knew this was where I wanted to be.
What part of this new season are you most looking forward to experiencing? Artistically I’m excited to see the whole season unfold, and for families and Los Angeles theatregoers to experience the 4 plays we have in store. I think that after seeing one, they will be eager to return for the next. Personally, I’m excited to see how our After Cool kids and youth mentors will react during each one. Seeing theatre through the eyes of a young person is the best way to get an authentic reaction. We learn a lot from them every day they walk through our green carriage doors.