1. Tell us a little about your career! How’d you get your start, and can you talk a little about the pressures to look a certain way?
I’ve been acting since I was a kid. I did my first TV commercial when I was 3. It was for those Fischer Price Teddy Bears that teach you how to button buttons and zip zippers. I remember for my audition they asked me what my favorite food was, and I screamed “I LOOOOOVE CHICKEN!!!” I still do. But I was a musical theatre nerd, and after I graduated from NYU I did a ton of regional theatre till I made my Broadway debut in the Original Broadway Cast of Jersey Boys. I did that for three years and then moved to Los Angeles. I’ve been doing a lot of commercials and guest stars on TV episodes, but the Jersey Boys film and working with Clint Eastwood has been my most exciting project yet. And yes, I’d be a liar if I said I didn’t feel pressure to look a certain way in this business. I was never an athletic person, always the last kid picked for teams in P.E., and I’m the child of Italian immigrants, so food is literally everything to me. I’m a “big bowl of pasta” kind of girl. And it took me a long time to realize that eating that way every day, while comforting and delicious, wasn’t making me feel very good. I started working out and eating a bit healthier when I was rehearsing for Jersey Boys on Broadway. Something about making my Broadway debut felt like the opportunity to “perfect the package.” I thought not being in the best shape of my life for my debut would be somehow lazy or ungrateful. So I’d take a spin class before rehearsal and then we’d have previews at night. It soon became 2 spin classes a day, even on two-show days, and eating Tasti-D-Lite for dinner (a 60-calorie frozen yogurt brand in NYC). It got to the point that my director told me to gain weight. He would say “you lost your CURVES!” I was definitely obsessive. Literally the next day I was like, “I can’t maintain this long term. And I’m tired.” I started eating normally and spinning only in the morning. But it was tough. Every day, you’re putting on the same tiny costumes and when you eat a big dinner and your dresser is struggling to zip your dress, you feel bad. Here in LA, the pressure to look a certain way is even greater. People send you out on auditions for characters described as “smoking hot” and you go, crap, I have to be that? Like, all the time?
2. How did you find The Studio (MDR)?
I found the Studio through my husband’s co-worker, Christy. He told me this girl he works with takes this Pilates class that is the hardest class she’s ever taken. I said to him “Ugh, Pilates is so boring, and it hurts my neck.” At the time, I was comfortable in my routine of spin followed by power yoga. I called it the “goddess workout” because that’s literally how I felt afterwards. And the yoga was great for my brain. But I noticed my BODY HADN’T CHANGED. At all. So the competitive person in me was like, fine, let me see what all the fuss is about. I took one class and was like “WHAAAAAT?!” I’d never been more sore in my life. And I saw results THE NEXT DAY. I wondered why the other workouts I was doing weren’t making me sore. So I joined the studio right away. It’s so NOT Pilates. It’s bananas, is what it is.
3. How have you transformed — not just physically — thanks to this workout?
Working out at The Studio (MDR) has totally transformed me. Every class I take feels like the hardest class I’ve done yet. I remember one class recently where I literally uttered the words “Oh God, why?!” out loud. (I think it was during yet another set of “bungee” that I couldn’t believe was happening). But I might have a really important callback that day, and getting through a class that’s so hard makes me think, “well, I’ve already achieved something gut-wrenchingly difficult today, so this callback will be a breeze.” Also, the class makes me feel like some kind of beast! It’s so empowering, and it helps me feel like a boss all day. And physically, yeah, I always hated my butt. It has a distinct tendency to go horizontal. This class has told my butt to shut up, while still allowing it to have a personality.
4. What was your goal when you first walked through the doors of The Studio (MDR), and have you reached them? What are your new goals?
Honestly, I’ve never been a big goal-setter. My goal when I walked into my first class, and every day still, is to show up. Get through the class. No matter what happens, just GO. But I would like to take fewer breaks and speed up my transitions. I tend to stop a lot too, you know, to curse and wipe sweat. I’ve noticed though that I’m a lot stronger than I was. There are times I’m holding plank and I can’t believe how long I can hold it. Makes me proud.
5. What’s next for you career wise? And how will The Studio (MDR) continue to help you along your path?
I have another movie coming out called “Boychoir.” It’s an indie film with Dustin Hoffman, Kathy Bates, Josh Lucas, and so many other greats. I’m also in an episode of “Mad Men” coming out in 2015. And I just got a part on “Hart of Dixie” that I’m shooting this week. You better believe I’m gonna be at the Studio (MDR) every morning I’m working on these shows. It’s become a no-brainer in my routine, like breathing. And it’s taught me to find joy in the struggle. When I’m holding plank and my whole body is trembling, I tell myself what I’m feeling is just sensation. I try to smile and go to that happy place in my mind. I use that in my daily life. Nothing is as hard as we trick ourselves into thinking it is. Because after a few minutes, it’s over. I’m mentally stronger than I was. And physically, I’m more lean and fit than I was back in NYC when I just wanted to be skinny. Skinny is boring. It’s been done. Fit people look better naked. Fit is where it’s at. Raaawr!