Katie Adler Part One
“I have no idea. I’m totally okay with that. I’m embracing that.”
Katie currently plays “Linda” in Jim Beaver‘s play “VERDIGRIS” at TheatreWest. Beaver is best known for playing Whitney Ellsworth on the HBO Western drama series Deadwood. He portrayed Bobby Singer in the CW television series Supernatural and Sheriff Shelby Parlow on the FX series Justified.
Katie and I live in the same apartment building. I bumped into her doing laundry the second week after moving in. I vaguely remember our conversation, but one of the themes I often come back to is acting in Hollywood is a process. It’s doing the work, surrounding yourself with like-minded people and constantly putting yourself in a position to succeed. Every time I chat with Katie, we talk about the process, but she reminds I really need to enjoy the journey.
Katie is like chicken noodle soup – she makes you feel better. She exudes warmth, comfort and she’s present – she takes in everything you say and responds in the moment. It was great talking with her.
Like many actors, Katie’s acting journey started young. At seven, Katie started dancing, taking ballet classes. She loved moving around. Her parents were involved in a community theater in New Jersey and a production of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory had a profound impact on her life.
“I knew, watching my mom on stage and seeing how much fun the kids my age were having, that I needed to do that.”
Katie attended a performing arts high school. While she initially wanted to attend a regular high school, her parents enrolled her, encouraging her to give it a try.
“I wanted to be ‘cool’ and watch football games, but I saw kids dancing in the hallways like Fame, and I thought, ‘All these people are just like me!’ I found my people. I stayed. It was the best experience of my life. It changed everything.”
She spent her four years dancing and participated in several musical theater productions. When she wasn’t in class, she was taking extra dance classes or in rehearsal at the community theater.
“We did every musical you could think of and my family performed together. My father is a lawyer and he joined the theater.”
As a child, she played Annie and Cabaret was her favorite in high school.
After graduating, Katie enrolled in Montclair State University as an undeclared major, but after seeing all the dancers and actors, she declared a BFA in musical theater with a concentration in acting the second semester of her first year. While she was there, Montclair unveiled a new Broadway style theater. Her first show was in the new space.
“The scale of teachers was amazing. They had Broadway backgrounds and the caliber of talent among my peers made me realize very quickly we weren’t there just for fun. My friends, Jelani Remy, is Simba in ‘The Lion King’, Mike Liscio is in ‘Avenue Q’ and Rob McClure is a Tony nominated actor who starred in ‘Chaplin’ and is currently in ‘Honeymoon in Vegas’ on Broadway. At one point, I wanted to be on Broadway too.”
After graduating, she was skimming Backstage Magazine‘s auditions and came across an opportunity for FMA Live, an interactive, traveling hip-hop concert that teaches Newton’s Universal Law of Gravity and Three Laws of Motion to middle school students. She submitted. A day later, she auditioned. She was called back. They conducted a phone interview. And she received the call a couple days later.
“I was on the New Jersey Turnpike and almost got into an accident because I was so excited!”
The show went to almost every state. She traveled the country in a tour bus three months at a time and then took a month break. She did three tours.
“I loved performing for those kids because the appreciation level was genuine and clear.”
The same company was casting other traveling tours and loved the dynamic between her and her fellow cast member, so they cast them in Nickelodean’s Slime Across America Tour.
While both tours were excellent experiences, the dancing was taking a toll, so she began to reevaluate her career path.
“I loved these shows, but my soul wanted something deeper. I also injured my knee and the shows were pretty taxing on my body, so when I wasn’t on tour or had free time, I looked up my favorite actors on Wikipedia to get a better idea of their career path. I realized I needed to do hard core training, studying was really important and I wanted to do it right.”
Katie searched and found The Ward Acting Studio, which teaches the Meisner technique. Wendy Ward traveled from New York to teach at a studio in Philadelphia.
“From first class, I felt like this is it for me. This is the technique I’m supposed to learn. I did Wendy’s classes for a whole summer and then went back on my third tour. The whole time I was away, I was itching to get back. I felt like, ‘I have to pursue this.'”
After performing a scene in class, Wendy told her, “If you really want to do this, you could.”
That validation sent Katie on her next adventure:
“That’s it, I’m moving to LA.”
In the second half of my interview, I’ll share Katie’s LA experience, her work with Theatre West and what’s next.