The 2015 Ensemblists of the Year!

Our favorite podcasters Mo Brady & Nikka Graff Lanzarone culled the best of the best from this year’s Ensemblist episodes to bring you this year’s quartet of Ensemblists of the Year. The Ensemblist is the podcast that features interviews with Broadway ensemble members: swings, replacements – the kind of artists that make Broadway tick, and we asked all four about what keeps them driven to be the creative forces on Broadway that they are.


Betsy StruxnessB.Sruxness-222

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity to me is not putting limitations on whatever you’re creating. Don’t say no, say yes. Even if it sounds like a bad idea, try it. Keep being curious, keep trying and do your best to think outside the box. But on the flip side, allow yourself to go along with the ride of something that might just be a happy accident. Explore that and recreate the accident and analyze why it works.

What keeps you driven and inspired as an artist?

I am constantly looking for the next challenge as an artist. Whether it’s on stage or beginning the journey with film and TV or while I’m working on my photography, I constantly ask the question, what’s next? I look at other artists and what they’ve done and how they’ve done it to try and give me ideas to how I can further my journey or my craft. With every goal I’ve set for myself that I reach, there are 5 that take its place. If I’m feeling stuck, I go see other artists in performance or watch actors on TV that I respect and move me, or find photographers whose work I admire and might be a little jealous of. Ha! But mainly…I try to practice it all at some point in my day EVERY. DAY.

“Betsy Struxness is the perfect example of an ensemblist. She cares deeply for every show she’s a part of, as well as each person involved in the production. She is not only a wonderful person, but a force to be reckoned with onstage. Her passion and love for her art are visible to everyone that encounters her. That’s why I nominated my beautiful friend, Betsy Struxness!”  -Samantha Sturm

Ryan SteeleRyanSteele Headshot '16

What does creativity mean to you?

To me, creativity means exercising your imagination. I think it’s important to allow yourself to daydream, and to explore the possibility of bringing your day dreams to life.

What keeps you driven and inspired as an artist?

Living in New York City is all the fuel I need as an artist. Inspiration is everywhere in this city. I’m constantly surrounded by determined individuals who push me to work harder, try new things, and stretch myself as an artist.

“Ryan is the guy that you want next to you on stage and in life. On top of being freakishly talented he is always dependable, FULL OUT, humble, present, appreciative of what he has and did I mention humble. A true creative being, a true friend, we will be hearing from Ryan Steele for quite sometime.”  -Curtis Holbrook

Cameron AdamsCameron_Adams

What does creativity mean to you?

Creativity means expressing yourself and being your own individual while doing so. Everyone sees or hears or feels things differently and that’s what makes theater and music and dance so diverse and individual. Yes, I generally work in a profession where I do 8 shows a week, but I get to bring my creativity to whatever character or part that I’m playing. It means feeling things sometimes more than over thinking things.

What keeps you driven and inspired as an artist?

Honestly, my peers and watching other artists and performers do their thing. I’m constantly blown away and amazed that I’m a part of this industry. So many talented people with so many different things to offer. It’s quite remarkable. Seeing shows and listening to music always inspires me and ignites excitement in me. Also, you have to constantly be working on it. Which keeps you humble and eager to keep learning. I am lucky to live in a city where I’m surrounded by art and creativity. I want to see as much of it as I can.

“Cam is the one of the best ensemblists because she’s been doing it for so long now, and she always maintains the highest level of professionalism and poise. She never acts as though she is entitled to anything above anyone else and works really hard. Cam brings an optimistic attitude to the workplace as well as her infectious southern charm. She is reliable, fun to work with, and incredibly consistent. Not to mention…a great dance partner.”  -Barrett Martin

Jeffrey SchecterJeffrey_Schecter

What does creativity mean to you?

To me, creativity is the ability to think outside the norm; to see something and immediately be able to see past it or in a different way. To take a color and mix it with another color and create a new color. And then take that color and do something you would never think of doing with it to create something new. To be creative is to take risks and try things. To open doors that you wouldn’t think of opening. To take words from a page, interpret them and personalize them so you can create something from what was given. Any situation that allows you to think outside of what you do on an everyday basis and ruffles your feathers is creative.

What keeps you driven and inspired as an artist?

Working with talented people who are really really really good at what they do inspires me. I’m doing Fiddler on the Roof right now and watching people like Danny Burstein and Jessica Hecht work is truly inspiring. They remind me of how much farther I can go with a role, as an actor, as a contribution to a play and my cast. Their commitment to their work and every detail of their characters as Tevye and Golda inspires me to stretch further and think harder and look deeper. Even with what can be considered a smaller role like mine as Mendel, The Rabbis son, I am inspired every day to look at what else I can do to make this character come to life to be more authentic, interesting and real. Being inspired by co-workers and their amazing work is very inspiring and humbling.

My own children and the children we teach with our company I CAN DO THAT NYC inspires me so much. Children just do! That innocence and fearlessness is so inspiring. Knowing I have to lead these children inspires and drives me to truly be brave. If I can’t demonstrate to them how to be brave and fearless chances are, they will remind me!

“Shecky is an amazing talent. I’ve seen him play leads and do ensemble work, and he is ready and willing for either! He’s got a wonderful family that he supports with his craft; he’s a filmmaker and entrepreneur. He loves his work, and you won’t find anyone in this business who doesn’t say, “Shecky?! I love that guy!”  -Kristen Beth Williams


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Photo of Mo and Nikka by Kevin Thomas Garcia

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