I’m a proud Latinx Equity Actor & Singer in Chicago.
I cut my teeth on the streets and stages of New York City in all manner of festivals and Off-Broadway productions. Color me lucky to have created and collaborated with Jose Luis Valenzuela, Karen Zacarias, Joe Calarco, John Clancy, Robert Cuccioli, David Sullivan, Lane Savadove, George Heslin, Hattie Naylor, and John Herrera. I’ve plied my trade at the Goodman Theater, Goodspeed Musicals, NJPAC, Metropolitan Playhouse, Theater for the New City, and myriad University stages across the US as a theater educator with the CORE Ensemble. I hold a B.A in theater performance from Rowan University.
If I’m not on stage I’m on assignment across the US as a corporate presenter for one of the largest automotive brands in the world. That and I’m a lumberjack.
I strive to bring the essence of my triumphs, trials, and friendships to the rehearsal room - offering them as thread for the director’s loom.
Below are the various shades: a mother’s steely-hazel eyes; the evergreen of a hand cut Christmas tree; and the particularly contemptible Red-Orange of the Ripley Grier rehearsal studios on 55th and 8th...
Facets & Family
Photo by Matt Simpkins Photography
A woman of unimpeachable kindness, and unassailable intelligence. She's the binding to my life’s loose and tattered pages. She got to me before my inner demons did.
When it comes to writing about my Wife, it’s never that there are no words - it’s that there couldn’t possibly be enough.
Photography by Yours Truly
Mother & Father
Granite. And on the cliffs of her shoulders my family stood. Honesty was paramount - both toward self and others. Selflessness next on the list. She pawned all of her jewelry to get me through acting class in high school. When I found out years later and asked her about it, she shrugged me off.
“You do what you must for your children.”
Photo by Matt Simpkins Photography
You know him as the OG Hercules Mulligan in HAMILTON. But to me he’ll always be “Tree” - the 15-year-old proto-poet in the corner scribbling, scratching, and scrawling in those old-school composition notebooks. One of my closest friends for over 15 years, and the de facto inspiration behind the drive toward the perfection of my craft. An actors actor. A force of nature. Trust.
Photo by Matt Simpkins Photography
2 Decades of brotherhood, the life of damn near every party, and the reason I stumbled into acting in the first place.
When Fred and I walked into the lobby of Memorial High on the first day of our freshman year we knew we had to seize the moment. The bullies left their welts on us in grammar school, but now we had a golden chance to start over. His plan was to join as many clubs as possible and see what stuck. He threw out the drama club as a possibility. I scoffed haughtily at the suggestion. I was to become a theoretical physicist and had no inkling nor iota of interest in song and/or dance.
“Yo, but Jessica is gonna be there for auditions”
That’s all it took. A teen crush overturned Nobel aspirations. Soon after - the famed bug bit. And Kevin the actor was born.
Jessica quit after two weeks, by the way.
Photo by Stacie Joy
If you live in New York City's Lower East Side you know who we are. Since 2011, Joe, Ed, and I have run the Tree Riders NYC Xmas tree stand in front of St.Mark's Church-in-the-Bowery. Every fall we sleigh down south to tree farms, select the best trees, and harvest them ourselves. We set up shop for the month of December, and deliver trees to happy families all across Manhattan.
Pro-Tip: Good things happen to those who bring me cookies while I'm working an 18hr shift at the tree stand...
Photo by Yours Truly
A few weeks before I proposed to my wife, I was sharing silence with Joe in our little sidewalk shack at the Tree Riders stand - the affectionately named "Hobo Shack" for its rakish build quality. I broke the silence with a question:
"How did you propose to your wife, Joe? I'm surrounded by friends who go all out with rose-petal-pathways-hockey-scoreboard-Philharmonic-orchestra-playing-"our favorite song!" bullshit. I'm just not that guy."
"You don't have to be any guy," Joe declared. "I proposed on the porch of our home one evening after I realized the conversation we were having was headed in a certain direction. The stars were out that night - she shone brightest. Kev, The key is to keep the engagement ring within reach at all times. The perfect moment presents itself, you reach for the ring, and dive off the deep end."
His words instantly resonated within me. How simple...genuine.
But he had one last piece of advice to proffer:
"After you propose, you'll both want to tell the world about it. I suggest you guys keep it to yourselves for a few days. Nurse your new secret, enjoy it for yourselves before you share it with others. Because once you share it...the proverbial ball starts rolling eventspacescateringflowersguestlistsohgod..."
And with that sage advice hanging in the air - back to silence we went.
"I've got a project for you now that you've graduated and you're in NYC. Call me."
And that got the ball rolling on the US Premiere of Hattie Naylor's IVAN AND THE DOGS. A one-actor show based on the true story of a boy raised by a pack of wild dogs on the streets of Russia. It played to rave reviews in New York City, and is one of my proudest moments on stage anywhere, and all because David believed in me.
He was my university acting professor. Now mentor. He blasted away my teenage impetus for acting: applause and adulation. And instead anchored my drive to a respect for craft. He taught me to tell the story for it's own sake. And to tell it well.
Photo by Warren Westura
Cynthia founded the New Jersey Youth Theater - unequivocally the best young arts education program in the country. She drilled old-school theater etiquette into our young minds and lemme tell YOU how WELL that has served me. Cynthia treated teenagers like me and Okieriete like adult professionals and suffered no excuses. Her vision and intent were clear: prepare us for the real damn thing.
A Theatrical legend. Now mentor.
John was the first person to look me dead in the eye with utter seriousness and sincerity and ask me, "What do you want?"
His basso voice rattled my lazy soul awake. No one had ever actually asked me that, and the forthrightness with which he presented the question knocks the wind out of me to this day. John brought the implications inherent in that question out of the realm of the abstract into absolute reality. I couldn't run and hide behind a song or a monologue.
I'm working on the question, John.
Kevin is the hardest working actor I know, and the man from whom I derive my work ethic. I model my approach to the business of acting on his own, and that alone has granted me entrance to rooms I've never imagined I'd be in. His grind is on a whole 'nother level.
Honestly just do yourself and your production a favor and look him up here.
"I hope we'll see you at auditions later this week."
"No thanks," I said. "I don't sing or dance. I'll run lights or sound or something"
"Hmm. I see. Come by anyway," Mr. Hempel said.
All actors have that one person that saw the spark in them and fanned the flame. That was Mr. Hempel. Chemistry teacher by day, drama club director by night - he set the foundation for my love of performance. Of course, he'll be the first person I mention when I receive my Tony Award.
My road crew. We all rep one of the largest auto manufacturers in the world, and we're damn proud of it. But we're also creatives pushing each other's buttons, and driving each other to create films, scripts, and photography. Always on our Grind.
On assignment as a Corporate Presenter for a major automotive manufacturer. Behind me is a concept vehicle. The inner scientist and engineer in me GEEKS OUT when I get any chance to talk about the future and what it brings.
Setting up A-Frames and electrics on 2nd Ave for the Tree Riders Xmas Tree stand. We really out chea.
Hmm. I wonder how many days I've logged at Ripley, Pearl, Champion, Shetler, and NOLA studios...
Perhaps I was a bit harsh on the Red-Orange color scheme. It's nostaligic.