NYCDA Alums talk what it’s like to create their own work under Rosebaby Comedy.
Alex Nader and Frankie LaPace took turns sharing their experience with us…
NYCDA: Why did you want to start Rosebaby Comedy?
Nader: It’s important to know that Frankie and I met at NYCDA. We were in the same section first year and quickly realized that our love for the theatrics equalled our love for film and television. To put it plainly, we were two loud mouth kids surrounded by beautiful strangers. The desire to start a Comedy duo came years later. I was in Boston originating a part in a new play and Frankie was there at the same time promoting a short film he had just written. The film he wrote and starred in would later go to the Cannes Film Festival that summer. We sat at a bar and laughed about the fact that not only were we both working in Boston but also we were worked on projects we ourselves created. We soon recognized that the only way we’d truly get work was by creating it. You see, this industry has a lot of very specific boxes and it’s important to know, as an actor, where in this business you fit. I still hadn’t figured that out. We were both what the industry would call “ethnically ambiguous” but we were extremely Americanized. Think of it this way, I wasn’t authentic enough to wear a hijab on Madame Secretary but I was too brown to be Julie Bowen’s daughter on Modern Family. Our first sketch, “The B Team” was a commentary on what it is like being a brown actor in the entertainment industry. And things really took off from there.
LaPace: I hadn’t seen Alex in a few years and when we finally re-connected, we both had so much to say about the current state of the industry and its lack of diversity. We felt that we were working so hard in audition rooms for roles we knew we weren’t right for and for stories we weren’t interested in telling. We knew we had something to contribute to the conversation, stories we’ve been itching to tell but were tired of waiting for someone else to create that space for us. We were also craving to be big and theatrical and play roles that strangers behind a table would never know we could play. Oh yeah, and we also like to make people laugh.
NYCDA: How has starting your own comedy company helped you as an actor?
Nader: It’s helped tremendously, simply because it’s given me confidence. If you can handle running a set and employing other professionals, then you can handle going into a commercial for Tide-to-Go.
LaPace: Starting my own company has helped me a lot as an actor. We spend a lot of time on our scripts, stressing out about rhythms and word choice, workshopping jokes — it has made me a more thoughtful performer. When I’ve acted in other projects I found myself taking more care with the text, trying to be just as specific as if I wrote the words. I want to incorporate that confidence of ownership into everything I do as an actor.
NYCDA: What advice would you give an actor wanting to create their own content?
Nader: Do it! If you have an idea or a story that is itching to be told, you must manifest it. The only other advice I would give is a piece of advice a teacher at NYCDA, Sara Buffamanti, once gave me: always be real with yourself. WHY are you creating? If you are filming a scene because you’re an actor looking for footage to your reel, great! Acknowledge that. If you’re starting a theater company because you want to put on a production of Macbeth and be seen by agents, wonderful! Acknowledge that. If you’re going to have other people giving their time to you, you must always be real with yourself. You must stay honest.
LaPace: My advice to an actor wanting to create his or her own content would be to make work that you would want to watch. That sounds like a no-brainer but a lot of times people will sit down to write and they end up making something they think other people would like or concoct this voice that they think they should have. It’s like acting in that way because the result will be this hollow vague thing that no one will believe. Also, be curious: Watch movies, read books, be interested in other forms of story-telling. Expand your vocabulary beyond a performer’s.
RosaBaby is constantly on the move. We have 2 sketches in pre-production right now and have 8 more written that we want to get moving. We are currently talking to a couple of digital platforms that want to license our content and finance new work. Hopefully, by the year’s end, we’ll have expanded our audience significantly. Fingers crossed.