Pioneering transgender artist and activist Shakina Nayfack sits down with Celia to share her journey of intersecting identities—from spirituality to gender and sexuality—and her leadership in fighting for representation and justice for the Trans community and beyond.
Most recently Shakina Nayfack made television history starring in NBC’s Connecting… as the first transgender person to have a starring role in a network comedy. She can also be seen in Amazon’s GLAAD Award Winning Transparent Musicale Finale, which she helped write and produce, and Hulu’s Difficult People, for which she was a writing consultant. Her play Chonburi International Hotel and Butterfly Club premiered on Audible in 2020 in collaboration with Williamstown Theatre Festival and was recognized with a 2021 Drama League Award for Best Audio Theatre Production. She is the Founding Artistic Director of Musical Theatre Factory, where she helped to develop hundreds of new musicals including Michael R. Jackson’s Pulitzer Prize winning musical, A Strange Loop and her own autobiographical glam rock odyssey, Manifest Pussy
As we move into Pride month, actor, activist, and the “Sexy Hamilton” Javier Muñoz openly shares his coming out journey, experience living with HIV, and how we can uplift the next generation. He and Celia also explore the devastating parallels between the AIDS epidemic and our current crisis of COVID.
Javier Muñoz is an actor and activist whose impressive body of work spans theater, film, and television. Javier is best known for co-creating the role of, and starring as, "Alexander Hamilton” in the cultural-phenomenon musical Hamilton on Broadway for two years, after Lin-Manuel Miranda departed the show (and was his alternate prior to that). He got his break starring as “Usnavi” in In the Heights on Broadway, also created by Miranda. Javier will soon star in the dark comedy indie feature, Monuments. On the TV side, he’s appeared on Shadowhunters, Blindspot, Quantico, Full Frontal with Samantha Bee and will soon be heard voicing the character of “Ohm” on Disney’s upcoming animated series Eureka. Recent theater credits include The New Englanders at MTC and the starring role in the North American premiere of Stephen Lloyd Helper’s A Sign of the Times. Javier is also an outspoken activist for LGBTQ+ rights and a Global Ambassador for (RED), which fights to end HIV/AIDS. Muñoz was honored with the prestigious OUT100 "Breakout of the Year" award in 2016, as well as the Howard Ashman Award by the Gay Men's Health Crisis (GMHC). Javier now serves on the Board of GMHC as well.
Grammy Award winner Sara Bareilles and Celia explore the uneasiness of branching out and trying something new and the accompanying fear of not getting it “right.” Sara also shares her own growth in learning how to balance her public and private life.
Sara Bareilles first achieved mainstream critical praise in 2007 with her widely successful hit "Love Song," which reached No. 1 in 22 countries around the world from her debut album Little Voice. Since then, Sara has taken home a Grammy Award for Best American Roots Performance for her performance of “Saint Honesty” and has received seven more Grammy® nominations, two Tony nominations and three Emmy nominations. Her book, Sounds Like Me: My Life (So Far) in Song, was released in the fall of 2015 by Simon & Schuster and is a New York Times best seller. Making her Broadway debut, Sara composed the music and lyrics for Waitress, and made her Broadway acting debut in 2017 by stepping into the show's lead role. In 2019, Sara released her fifth full-length album entitled Amidst The Chaos. For this body of work, she joined forces in the studio with legendary Academy Award-winning producer T Bone Burnett. Always looking to try something new, Sara teamed up with her writing and producing partner, Jessie Nelson, J.J. Abrams and Apple, and executive produced Little Voice: a 10-episode musical drama series featuring her original music. In September, 2020, Sara released More Love – Songs From Little Voice Season One, which features her personally performed and recorded versions of the ten songs from the series. Most recently, Sara wrapped filming a brand new Tina Fey scripted musical-comedy series for Peacock called Girls5Eva. Her brand new record, Amidst the Chaos: Live from the Hollywood Bowl, is also releasing in 2021.
In this week’s episode, Tony-nominated actor Joshua Henry talks to Celia about how his faith has been a source of inspiration and solace, especially this past year as he unexpectedly found himself becoming the father of new twins during the pandemic.
Joshua Henry made a name for himself in his Tony-nominated turn in The Scottsboro Boys and as Aaron Burr in both the touring and Chicago companies of Hamilton. He made his stage debut as Judas in Godspell at the Paper Mill Playhouse, followed by his Broadway debut in In the Heights. Other Broadway credits include American Idiot, Porgy and Bess, Bring It On: The Musical, Violet, Shuffle Along, and most recently as “Billy Bigelow” in the revival of Carousel. On film, he is remembered as Jennifer Hudson’s fiancé in Sex and the City. Henry released his debut EP, Guarantee in early 2021 via S-Curve Records/BMG.
Tony Award winner Laura Benanti speaks with Celia about the ongoing struggle of “comparing and despairing” as a woman and a mother, especially over the last year. They also discuss how to claim your power to become an effective, empathetic leader and discover strength in vulnerability.
Tony Award-winner and five-time Tony Award nominee Laura Benanti is a highly celebrated stage and screen actress. This May, Benanti stars in the film Here Today opposite Billy Crystal and Tiffany Haddish and as a guest star on the Showtime series Cinema Toast created by Jeff Baena and produced by the Duplass Brothers. This fall on Netflix, Benanti will be seen in Sara Colangelo’s WORTH starring opposite Michael Keaton, Stanley Tucci and Amy Ryan which premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival. Additionally, Benanti will be seen in Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Tick, Tick...Boom! for Netflix and is currently in production on HBO Max’s much awaited Gossip Girl reboot.
In 2020, Benanti created and executive produced the HBO Max special, HOMESCHOOL MUSICAL: CLASS OF 2020, an unscripted musical special featuring students from across the U.S. Additionally, Benanti released a self-titled studio album for Sony Music Masterworks.
In 2019, Benanti made a triumphant return to Broadway as Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. Since making her Broadway debut at the young age of 18 as Maria in The Sound of Music, Benanti has wowed audiences in numerous musicals and plays. Other Broadway roles include: ‘Amalia Balash’ in She Loves Me, for which she was nominated for Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle and Drama League Awards; Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown for which she was nominated for a Tony Award, and won both the Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Awards; In The Next Room, or the Vibrator Play; The Wedding Singer; Nine; her Tony, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle Award-nominated performance of ‘Cinderella’ in Into the Woods; and her Tony nominated turn in Swing! Benanti earned the 2008 Tony Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical, a Drama Desk Award, and an Outer Critics Circle Award for her revelatory portrayal of Louise in the Broadway revival of Gypsy opposite Patti LuPone.
In our second pancake minisode, Celia continues to share her feelings and thoughts on readjusting to life post-vaccine as well as following up on her conversation with Karen Olivo.
This week, Celia sits down with Tony Award winning actor, and activist Karen Olivo to examine the action necessary to manifest a theatre industry built on transparency, equity, and accountability from their equally meaningful but different roles in a social justice ecosystem: Celia as a weaver, and Karen as a disrupter. Influenced by conversations before and after Karen's decision to leave Moulin Rouge! following the public allegations of abuse by Scott Rudin, this episode intentionally seeks to sit in discomfort and ask more nuanced questions than provide concrete answers.
Karen Olivo is a television, film, and stage actor who most recently played “Satine” in Moulin Rouge, The Musical on Broadway. Olivo is also recognized for her Tony Award winning performance as “Anita” in the acclaimed 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story, a role for which she also earned Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, and Astaire Award nominations. Some of her Broadway theater credits include originating the role of “Vanessa” in the Tony Award-winning musical, In the Heights (2008 Astaire Award); starring as “Faith” in the Broadway production of Brooklyn The Musical, and in Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning musical, Rent. Additional theatre credits include Murder Ballad at the Manhattan Theater Club; By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage at Second Stage; and The Miracle Brothers directed by Tina Landau at the Vineyard Theatre. Olivo is also recognized for her many television appearances including a series regular, recurring & guest-starring roles on “ Harry’s Law”, “The Good Wife,” “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” “Chase,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Conviction,” and “Law & Order.”
Olivo is also an educator teaching at Northwestern University, NYU-Tisch, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as working as a visual artist and writer. In the Spring of 2020, Olivo co-founded the non-for-profit organization, AFECT, Artists for Economic Transparency, in the efforts to educate the industry and promote discussion regarding entertainment industry structures and how they can be altered to better serve marginalized communities. www.AFECTchange.org
Both graduates of University of Michigan’s Musical Theatre program, Celia first met Erika Henningsen when she was in high school. In this week’s conversation, they share their process of learning how and when to take up space and the ways in which you can sustain small daily actions toward larger systemic change.
Erika Henningsen was most recently seen as ‘Cady Heron’ in the original Broadway Cast of Mean Girls, for which she was nominated for an Outer Critics' Circle Award. She made her Broadway debut as ‘Fantine’ in the recent revival of Les Miserables and can be seen as ‘Kim Ravenal’ in the PBS Special of Show Boat: Live from Lincoln Center with the New York Philharmonic. She is slated to appear in Peacock's upcoming series GIRLS5EVA and Amazon's original comedy Harlem. Graduate of the University Of Michigan BFA Musical Theater Program, Broadway Star of the Year 2019. She recently founded the First Time Voters' Club in partnership with Producing Blue to encourage young voters in involvement in the political sector and is an ambassador for the non-profit organization, She’s The First.
This week, Celia sits down with her co-star from the 2013 Broadway revival of The Glass Menagerie, Emmy nominee Zachary Quinto to explore how we find space for growth within solitude and the power of surrendering to the unknown.
Zachary Quinto hails from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He attended Carnegie Mellon where he received a BFA in Acting. In 2007 he was cast as Sylar on the hit NBC series Heroes. That same year, he was cast as ‘Spock’ in the JJ Abrams directed reboot of the Star Trek franchise. He starred in the first season of American Horror Story in 2011, and then won a Critic’s Choice Award and Emmy Award nomination for his portrayal of ‘Dr. Oliver Thredson’ on American Horror Story: Asylum. Quinto appeared in the 2010 Signature revival of Tony Kushner’s Angels In America, for which he won a Theater World Award and a Drama Desk Award nomination. He made his Broadway debut in the 2013 Tony Award winning production of The Glass Menagerie. He was also seen in Noah Haidle's Smokefall and in the Joe Mantello directed revival of The Boys in The Band, which won the 2019 Tony for Best Revival of a Play. He's hosted the reboot of In Search Of on the History Channel, and starred in the AMC series NOS4A2. Most recently, he reprised his role as Harold in the film adaption of The Boys In The Band on Netflix.
Quinto began his production company Before the Door Pictures in 2008 and produced such films as Margin Call, All Is Lost, A Most Violent Year, and Aardvark. At the end of 2019, the new iteration of Before The Door signed first look deals with AMC Studios for scripted projects and with Spoke Studios for unscripted fare.
In our first pancake minisode, Celia shares her hopes, struggles, and anxieties as we begin to gather again and awkwardly adjust to a New Normal.
Please send your thoughts, feelings, curiosities, and questions to Celia at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Tony Award winner Kelli O’Hara and Celia have known each other since The Light in the Piazza, a process filled with complicated and vulnerable feelings. In this week’s episode, they openly share how they were able to move through those feelings and come out the other side with a stronger friendship and self-awareness.
Stage and screen star Kelli O’Hara has established herself as one of Broadway’s greatest leading ladies. Her portrayal of Anna Leonowens in The King and I garnered her the Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, along with Grammy, Drama League, Outer Critics, and Olivier nominations. Kelli has received an additional 6 Tony nominations for her work on Broadway in the productions The Light in the Piazza, The Pajama Game, South Pacific, Nice Work if You Can Get It, The Bridges of Madison County, and Kiss Me Kate. Kelli was awarded the prestigious Drama League’s Distinguished Achievement in Musical Theatre Award in 2019.
Kelli also received an Emmy nomination for her portrayal of Katie Bonner in the hit web series The Accidental Wolf. Other film and television credits include the second season of Netflix’s 13 Reasons Why, All The Bright Places, Peter Pan Live!, Sex & The City 2, Martin Scorsese’s The Key to Reserva, Showtime’s Masters of Sex, CBS All Access’ The Good Fight, Blue Bloods, N3mbers, and the animated series Car Talk. She is currently shooting HBO’s The Gilded Age.
Kelli sits on the boards of New York City Center and The NY Pops for which she Co-Chairs their PopsEd initiative.She also serves on the Lincoln Center Artist Committee and the advisory board of Broadway for Racial Justice. Kelli is a wife and a mother of 2 children.
Tony Award-nominated actress Phillipa Soo (Hamilton) has been working nonstop since she graduated from Juilliard. In this week’s episode, she and Celia sit down to discuss the ongoing struggle to improve our work-life balance and tools to ensure you can continue to make space for your own needs.Phillipa Soo is best known for originating the role of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton in Broadway’s critically acclaimed Hamilton, garnering her numerous industry awards and a Tony Award nomination. She can currently be seen in the film version of Hamilton on Disney+. Soo is currently voicing a lead role in Netflix’s animated film Over the Moon. She can also be seen in Sony’s The Broken Hearts Gallery and in Disney+’s The One and Only Ivan. She made her feature film debut in Here and Now. On the small screen, she will next be seen in Hulu’s upcoming drama series DOPESICK, based on the New York Times bestselling book of the same name and in Spectrum Originals’ upcoming series PLAN Z. She was previously a series regular on CBS's The Code and featured in NBC's Smash. Soo co-starred on Broadway in The Parisian Woman, as well as playing the title role in the Broadway musical Amélie. She also originated the role of ‘Natasha Rostova’ in Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812. She is a graduate of the Juilliard School Drama Division.
Episode 2 guest Phillipa Soo will star in a virtual concert with Rowan University on April 16th at 8 PM Eastern. Proceeds will benefit New Jersey Arts and Culture Recovery. For tickets and more, visit go.rowan.edu/phillipasoo.
In our debut episode, Celia sits down with Tony Award nominee Denée Benton to talk about managing perfectionism when things feel outside of your control and the work that the theatre industry needs to do in order to become actively anti-racist.Denée Benton made her Broadway debut and received a 2017 Tony Award nomination, Drama League Distinguished Performance Award nomination, Theatre World Award, and a Lilly Award for her portrayal of ‘Natasha’ in the Broadway production of Natasha, Pierre & The Great Comet of 1812 (A.R.T). Nat’l Tour/ West End: ‘Nabulungi’ in The Book of Mormon, ‘Ruby’ in Season 2 of Lifetime's hit series UnREAL. She holds a BFA from Carnegie Mellon University and spent last year starring as ‘Eliza’ in Broadway's Hamilton. Next, she can be seen starring in HBO’s new TV series The Gilded Age.