I was born in Teaneck NJ, but raised in Bala Cynwyd, a surburb of Philadelphia PA. I was the youngest of five children, a late-life “surprise” child of Salvatore, a packaging engineer, and Adele, a homemaker with a lot of spirit who counted opera singing and the violin among her hobbies.
Junior high was where I started acting, along with playing the flute and bassoon and participating in student government, activities which continued through at the very excellent public Lower Merion High School.
When I began college at Harvard/Radcliffe, however, I assumed that, much as I loved acting, it was no way to make a living – an assumption that is correct, statistically speaking. So I instead followed my interest in medicine by majoring in biology, ultimately writing a thesis on breastfeeding and earning my BA cum laude.
Notwithstanding this choice, and the absence of a theater department at Harvard, there was hardly a time that I wasn’t acting in some production, large or small. Some of the classmates that I worked with were the humorist Andy Borowitz, Yale Drama School Dean James Bundy, and Directors Guild of America President Paris Barclay. And by the time I graduated I realized that for better or worse, I would have to give acting a shot.
So I moved to Hell’s Kitchen and worked at night as a paralegal (at Skadden Arps Slate Meagher & Flom) to pay for classes in acting, singing and dance. After a couple of years without enough progress, and having been rejected twice by the Yale Drama School, I decided to try out Minneapolis. Within 2 weeks I had an agent and was cast in my first real professional job – as “The Girl in the Freudian Slip” at the historic Old Log Theater. I loved the Twin Cities, and was ready to move there permanently when I was finally admitted to Yale.
My time at the Drama School was ultimately a great experience – challenging, illuminating, life-changing. And it brought me a lot of strong relationships, with folks like classmate Courtney B. Vance, playwright Richard Greenberg, directors Mark Brokaw and Michael Engler, designer Kathy Zuber and so many other wonderful actors, directors, writers, designers, techies and others – even some architects and graphic designers.
On graduating with my MFA in acting, I moved back to my tiny 3rd floor walkup in Hell’s Kitchen and spent the next five years based there. I did a lot of theater Off-Broadway (including an interesting piece with a young Kevin Spacey) and at regional theaters (including the Guthrie back in my beloved Minneapolis). I got my first shot at film, with Working Girl and Moonstruck, and spent “pilot seasons” in LA doing television.
One of those LA jaunts landed me on the critically acclaimed “Brooklyn Bridge”, and my cat Jack and I started to put down roots on the west coast. I bought a 1915 bungalow in the center of Hollywood which was in need of a lot of TLC, and got to work on restoring it.
A few months later my life was changed forever, when my friends Tony Shalhoub and Brooke Adams (with whom I worked on Broadway) set me up with his old friend Drew McCoy, who had been at Drama School with Tony doing technical theater and was now a financial advisor. We clicked immediately and were married in NY 2 ½ years later, celebrating at the wonderful West Bank Café. We were blessed with our extraordinary dog Lucy 12 years ago. And we finally completed renovating this damn house last year!