Episode 89: Ali Stroker, NYU Alum and Tony Award-winning Broadway Performer
In this episode, Karen speaks with NYU graduate Ali Stroker, who won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Featured Actress in a Musical for her role as 'Ado Annie' in Rodgers and Hammerstein's Oklahoma! She made history as the first actor in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway in Deaf West’s acclaimed 2015 revival of Spring Awakening. She starred in 12 episodes of The Glee Project, culminating in a guest role on Fox's Glee. Ali starred in the Lifetime holiday film, Christmas Ever After. Her TV credits include: CBS' Blue Bloods, Freeform's The Bold Type, Fox’s Lethal Weapon, CBS’ Instinct, The CW's Charmed and Comedy Central's Drunk History. She has recurred in the ABC series, Ten Days in the Valley and guest starred on Ozark, and Only Murders in the Building. She recently co-wrote a novel, The Chance to Fly, which was released by Abrams Books. She’s performed her cabaret act at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, New York’s Town Hall, Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts and Carnegie Hall. Her mission to improve the lives of others through the arts, disabled or not, is captured in her motto: “Turning Your Limitations Into Your Opportunities.”
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Hi, everyone, and welcome back to you matter, a podcast created to teach, inspire and motivate members of the NYU community who have been victimized in some form or fashion and to identify resources both on and off campus that can help. I'm your host Karen Ortman, Associate Vice President of campus safety operations at the Department of Campus Safety and a retired law enforcement professional. Today I welcome Ali Stroker. Ali is an alumna of NYU Tisch School of the Arts, and a groundbreaking performer who made history as the first Actress in a wheelchair to appear on Broadway. Ali won a Tony for her performance in the revival of Oklahoma, and earned a Barrymore Award nomination for starring in the 25th annual Putnam County spelling bee. In addition to her work on and off Broadway, she has soloed at the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC, New York's Town Hall, and Lincoln Center for Performing Arts and Carnegie Hall. Ali, welcome to you matter.
Thank you so much for having me.
My pleasure. And once again, very, very nice to meet you. So when did you discover your love of acting?
I was introduced to musical theater when I was seven. I was... our family had bought a home on the Jersey Shore. And our next door neighbors had a daughter who had just come home from stagedoor Manor, which was like a performing arts camp. And she decided that she was going to direct the production of Annie and she cast me as Annie and we did the show in our backyard. And it changed my life. I loved being onstage. I loved being in front of people, I loved learning lines and learning songs and choreography. And it was just this unbelievable moment where I feel like I found my purpose. And I found an outlet.
Now at that point, had you been taking singing lessons? Did you even know you could sing?
No, I wasn't involved in any singing or theater at all. And then after that summer, I went home and started voice lessons and became completely obsessed. And to be honest, I don't really remember a lot of my life before then really like my life began. Yeah. And I was introduced to theater.
You found your purpose at a very young age.
Yeah, forming. Yeah, I feel so lucky. Yeah.
So who were your mentors growing up? Once you decided this was what you wanted to do.
I had two really great voice teachers. My first voice teacher was an opera singer. And I studied with her for two or three years. And then I met a woman named Susan McBrayer, who was the voice teacher in the town that I grew up in. And she and I did lessons every week for about 10 years. And she was like a second mom to me and exposed me to classical music and musical theater and pop rock. And, you know, it's just like the highlight of every week to get to go and sing. It paid off thank you. Yeah, I just loved it so much.
Would you mind sharing? For how long have you been in a wheelchair? And why are you in a wheelchair?
Yeah, I was injured in a car accident when I was two years old. And I had a spinal cord injury. So I've been in a chair now for 31 years, and I'm 33. And, you know, my wheelchair and my disability has informed so much of who I am, but has never really defined... I think what I thought was possible for my life. I got really lucky with really incredible parents and they always taught me and showed me that anything is possible. And we where there's a will there's a way and you know, you can be creative in solving problems. Yeah, and be able to do things the way that everybody else does. But there's an opportunity To find new solutions and, and pave the way for other people behind you, I mean, I, when I was growing up, I really saw very little representation when it came to disability, especially women with disabilities. So I knew what I wanted, I knew what my dreams and my goals were, but I didn't see anybody doing them with a disability. However, I didn't really care, I had a vision for my life and where I wanted to go. And so much of that came from what I loved. I just loved doing theater, I loved theater, I loved being around theater people, and that just gave me so much direction in my life.
So I want to ask you, for those who may not be exposed to people who are in a wheelchair, what is the relationship that the person in the wheelchair basically has with this device?
Well, first of all, I want to say that every single human being who has a disability has a different relationship to their disability, to the equipment that they use, to the accommodations that they need. So I can only speak on behalf of my own experience. And my relationship with my chair is really positive, I feel so lucky to have my manual chair that's custom fit to me, that allows me to be completely independent, and allows me to go everywhere I want in the world. As far as like, the relationship to my chair. I think it depends on every single situation. No, I don't want people just coming up and touching my chair or starting to push me without asking. But I think that is sort of common sense that you wouldn't just come up and start touching someone without asking, without engaging them, and especially if you didn't know them. But one of the things that I so I feel very fortunate I'm able to do speaking gigs across the country. And one of the things that I like to talk to people about is we are conditioned as children around disability to not stare, don't ask and don't look, don't engage with the disability. I see it happen all the time with little kids who are so curious, Mommy, why is she in a wheelchair? And I can feel from the parents, I can feel the adults that they're just not comfortable. And I always step in and sort of say, no, it's okay, like ask. And Why I say that is because I don't want to create more fear. And I don't want to create more of a wall between the way that somebody who doesn't have a disability engages with somebody who does. And, you know, when I'm rolling down the streets of New York, I see so many different responses, people still out in public stare at me. And that's because we are not exposed to disability that often. And that is sort of a larger conversation about the way in which representation works. Yeah, and we are in this... We're in this diversity movement right now. But we are not always including disability in that equation and in that movement, which is one of my, you know, life's purposes to create more representation around disability. But, you know, if you have a friend, if you have somebody who you are close to who has a disability, I encourage you to ask questions and to engage them about it. And if they don't want to engage about it, hopefully they will let you know, in a way that isn't too hurtful. And also that gives you a lot of information.
Right. We live in a world with so little privacy, some people feel like their disability is something that's private, and that's totally fine, too. So, you know, as far as my own experience, I'm very open. I'm willing to talk about my disability anytime. But if some stranger comes up to me, and it feels like they are not sensitive, or they just are curious, they have no interest in me as a person. I might say, Listen, this isn't something that I discussed with people I don't know.
And I think that that is completely appropriate and boundaries are very important.
Yeah. Yeah. At some point in high school, you obviously identify colleges, perhaps, unless NYU was always, you know, at the top, which I could understand. But there was this process that you went through where you... I'm sure researched where you thought you wanted to go to college.
Yeah, well, junior year like most juniors in high school, you begin to do the college search. And I... I really wanted to study theater. I knew that was like what my main goal was, and I, my family and along with some friends who were also wanting to study theater, we toured a bunch of different schools on the east coast and the West Coast. And everywhere I went, and did these tours, I felt like people were staring at me people had never seen anybody like me. And then, when I went to visit NYU, I had two friends who were freshmen in the film school. And so I came in and I visited the school, and I stayed over one night, and I loved it. I loved being in the West Village. I loved being in New York. I love the way the campus or lack of campus were, sort of the feel of the community and the people and I got to meet some like freshmen, they were friends with some of my friends from home. And I just knew it was where I wanted to be. So I applied early, and I told my mom, I have no backups. This is the only school I want to go to. And she was not happy. She was like, we have to have backups. But I applied early, I auditioned early, and I ended up getting in.
And you got into Tisch School, New York.
Yes, I got into Tisch. And then I found out later that I got into Cap 21, which was the musical theater studio at the time at Tisch. And actually at my audition, I said that I only wanted to be in the musical theater studio because I knew I wanted to sing. And I think in my mind, that was like, the only option if you were going to Tisch and you wanted to sing and study musical theater that Cap 21 would be the place for you. So I got into Cap 21.
So you get into NYU? At what point? I mean, clearly, you have your studies, you're doing your shows for NYU as part of your program. At what point are you also auditioning for things on Broadway.
I did not start professionally auditioning until my senior year, My last semester, I was part time, because the way that my credits worked, I guess I didn't have that many credits for the last semester. So it wasn't until then that I think I began to audition a little bit. Of course, I had friends that were auditioning while we were in school, and some of them left and went on to do Broadway shows and things. But I really knew that I needed those four years to sort of get to know myself and I really loved college. I loved my friends. I loved the program I was in so it wasn't until my senior year that I started auditioning professionally.
Did you have an idea? When you thought about your prospects on Broadway, what your ideal role was?
No, I mean, I was so I was so nervous about how the auditioning would work. Because, you know, there was no one like me, and I did a showcase my fall semester of senior year, and I ended up getting an agent, which I felt so excited and really lucky. And when we sat down and talked about the roles that I could play, you know, my agent really believed in me, and he pushed me for these parts, but I was not able to get auditions for a long time. There were people just, you know, I guess, just fearful and unsure about how to cast me or how they would work with me.
So it took a little while to get sort of the momentum going. And actually, after I graduated, I ended up moving to LA for a little while and auditioning a little bit out there and sort of I wanted, I had always wanted to live in Los Angeles, and I think I was like, just ready for a change. I lived in New York for four years, and studied. And so I did this showcase after I graduated with ABC called the ABC diversity showcase. And my mentors there suggested that I go out to LA and they were going to set up some meetings, and I would meet some people. And I did that. And it went really well. And so I decided to move to LA, and then and then Glee, was like exploding at that point. And I really wanted to be on the show. So I thought, oh, like, I'll move to LA, and maybe I'll get Glee. And I auditioned. And I ended up not hearing anything back for two and a half years.
Before we get to that, because I, my daughter was young at the time and loved that show. So I remember it vividly. You decide to move out to LA after you graduated from NYU. How did your parents feel about you up and moving across the country? Was that a challenge for them? Were they concerned about you moving away?
I think they were definitely nervous. But my parents have always been supportive of the decisions that I wanted to make around my career. You know, neither of them are in the entertainment industry. Neither of them are actors. So they only knew kind of what they knew from me. And I just felt really strongly about this choice about moving to LA and I knew that they were going to miss me and they were nervous. But they also were really supportive of of my dreams. And where I wanted to grow, you know, I mean, I think you think, oh, once you're done with college, you're done learning, you're done growing, it's actually like kind of the beginning. Oh, so we're like actually learning what the real world is, like, you know, for four years in college, you are protected in so many ways, you have this set schedule. And once you graduate, it's like, oh, this is what the real world is, like. And it's really scary. And it's really new, and you're sort of finding your place. And so it takes a few years. For some people it doesn't and, and everyone has their own journey. But for me, it took you years to sort of find my way and trust myself
How did you even know where to go in LA? How did you know where to sort of plant your seeds in LA? To begin that process of learning about how the entertainment industry works on the West Coast?
Yeah. Well, my mentor at ABC had set up some meetings with me. So I had met a few people, casting directors, I ended up signing with a manager out there. And I also went out with a friend who was a theater friend who had done a workshop with in New York. And so he and I lived together for the first three months, I was out there. And I had like a few friends, few mutual friends, I had a few friends who had also moved out there. So I have like a few people. And then for the next two years that I was out there, because I've gone back and forth. I moved to LA moved back and then moved to LA again and then moved back.
So I spent I spent a fair amount of time out there. And, you know, you just begin to meet people. And I have never really had trouble with the social part of my life as far as, like, meeting people and making friends. So I just was meeting tons of people and making new friends All the time. And I had this great group of girlfriends who I knew through a friend at NYU, and that was a mutual friend. And so anyway, you know, it was like, slowly building this community and this world for myself and I, I just loved it. I thought it was a really special city and a really great place and didn't get a lot of work out there first. As far as like, figuring out what it meant to be an adult out in the real world. I had such a blast.
Yeah, that's great. So the so let's go to the audition for glee. Was that the second time you were out in LA or was that the first time?
The first time I was out in LA, I had a general meeting with UDK, which was the office that was casting Glee and Robert Ulrich was, you know, one of the main people at the office, and I actually wasn't even meeting with Robert. I was meeting with another person at the office and when I went in there and met with them, they were like I'm about to have to meet Robert. And he asked to put you on tape for glee. And I was like, Yes, that's exactly what I want. Yeah. And so I met Robert and he put me on tape, but then nothing happened. I never heard from them I never heard from, you know, the follow up audition.
is that common?
Oh, yeah, all this is common, you know, you meet people. And then it's not-
nothing for years,
2345 years later that you hear from them again, you know, this is the way it's like all planting seeds. And so actually, I didn't hear from Robert until I was auditioning for the Glee Project. And the Glee Project was a reality TV show where you competed for a role on Glee. And I was first hesitant because I was like, I don't want to do reality TV, like, I'm an actor, I don't want to be this personality, I didn't want to be a reality TV star, you know, I have a real like, opinion of what that meant. And, but then, I sort of, you know, moved through that resistance and was like, this could be the path to getting on Glee. And it ended up being the path for me to get on Glee. So I did the reality show, the second season of the Glee project, and I got to the final round, did not end up winning. But Ryan Murphy ended up putting me on an episode of the show. And so I ended up doing Glee, which was really fun. Yeah. And I, I really, really wanted that that meant so much to me. So we did that, or I did that. And how cool was that for your family and friends. And, you know, everybody that knew you, as that, that Annie lead at the Jersey Shore, you know, to watch that was been pretty cool. Yeah, it was amazing. And to do the Glee Project to before that, you sort of build this fan base of people that begin following you and watching you and then to get on the show was just awesome. I just had as such a wonderful time, it was such a dream come true to arrive at something that took a lot longer than I thought it would, you know, at that point, it had been like four years later. But it was it was incredible. And to get to work with everybody that was on the show, and to really see something through I think, like, when you have these dreams and these goals, and you're in your career, it means so much. And it feels so good. And it builds so much confidence as an artist to get there. Yeah, even if it took three or four years, you still arrive and you realize, Oh, I can do this. And the path there may not look what I look like what I thought it would. But I did that. And I have gotten to this place that I really, really wanted to be and you know, it was it was an amazing break. You know, people talk about like your break in the city in this industry. It was not like the only break that I ever got. But it was really it was really exciting. And you know, the the exposure that we was getting at the time, millions of people were watching it across the world. So it was really it was very exciting.
Oh, yeah. What happens after glee.
I finished Glee. And I moved back to New York. And I am in New York for like a year or two. And then I moved back to LA. And I auditioned for a production of Spring Awakening, that Deaf West is doing. And Deaf West is a company that works with both hearing and deaf actors. And so I auditioned and from that audition, I get cast, and we do the show in downtown LA. And that show is then transferred to a bigger theater in Beverly Hills. And then production is transferred to Broadway and that was where I made my Broadway debut. And-
as the first person just made ever in a wheelchair to star on Broadway. Yeah, what an amazing accomplishment
it was really cool. I you know, I when I heard that, you know, oh, you're the first person in the wheelchair to be on Broadway. I was sort of like, Are we sure about that? it was 2015 and I had a hard time believing it, but it it's it was true. And it was a really cool moment, there was a ton of press around it and to get the opportunity to kind of speak out about what this meant to me, but also how important it was for my community, you know, representation is so important.
And, and for people with disabilities who come to see Broadway shows, you know, I had never seen anybody who looked like me. So this is all really, really special moment. And, you know, like what I described, when I was on Glee , you know, when you arrive somewhere, you know, that's something that you've wanted for so long. That was just really, really exciting. Yeah, it feels so good. And it feels like a huge part of what keeps me driven to is that I didn't have that growing up. I didn't have like, anybody in a chair who I was looking up to, sort of be able to be that for young people who need that. Yeah, I think that that's the piece of it that means so much to me. Yeah.
When you were performing on Broadway, were you? Did you ever look out into the audience, which I can't even imagine what that must have felt like the sense of pride that you felt. But did you ever look out and see maybe a young person who was in a wheelchair or disabled? You know, watching you on stage?
Yeah, many times. And, you know, part of what was so special about the production of Spring Awakening was is it was with Deaf West. So there were always, you know, people who are deaf in the audience as well seeing the show. And, yeah, it was really special to have them when they came to see the show, and to meet them afterwards. All of that was part of what made it so magical was to see the impact. And to, to meet the people who need this, who need to see themselves represented in these kinds of ways. You know, as a young person with a disability, I can say that you sort of wonder where you're going to fit and what your journey will be, and what your narrative will be in your life. And so to see somebody who's older than you doing something that, you know, whether you want to be on Broadway or not achieving at the highest level is very, very encouraging. Yeah. And so it was very, it was very cool to meet those people after the show.
And how about your parents? I'm sure that they were beaming, sitting in the audience watching you.
Yeah, yeah, I think my parents are so proud. And this has meant so much to them to watch, you know, sort of my story unfold. And, you know, they were there for all the ups and all the downs. So, you know, to get to be a part of the ups and celebrate, you know, the, the achievements, I think it's very cool to feel like the greatest achievements of their life as well.
Yeah, absolutely. You had done an interview previously, where you had commented on how difficult it was for you to ask people for help, whether it was, you know, getting in or out of an Uber or or taxi, and that you found that frustrating. Has that position changed for you? Is it still frustrating? What's that experience? Like for you getting around, and maybe sometimes having to ask a complete stranger for help?
You know, it depends on the day.
Hahah Which I think is probably universal.
You know, having a disability being in a chair, you need help, you do need help, especially in New York, which is not a very accessible place. And there are days that feels really good to connect with strangers, and, you know, experience this exchange of not just receiving help, but giving somebody the opportunity to help and feel good. I try to frame you know, sort of these moments in that kind of way, that it's not just about me, it's also about them, and it can be really positive, and then their day is that, you know, you don't really want to ask for help, and you just want to get something done. Right, and, you know, quickly in New York, or you'd like to move quickly, and you'd like to just be efficient and get it done. But the reality is that, you know, I need help in my life. And so, I try to stay patient and try to you know, embrace those moments where I do need help. But sometimes it is challenging. It just depends on the day truly, you know, with anyone else, and sometimes, sometimes it just feels really vulnerable to need something from a complete stranger. And then other days It feels really good to, to have these moments and to really experience that New York, you know, that New York kind of vulnerability of meeting one another,
Right. Is there something that you think listeners should be aware of? When associating with somebody who's in a wheelchair, is there a sensitivity that they might not have that they should? Does that makes sense?
You know, yeah, I mean, I think it always depends on the situation. But the one thing that I can speak on is that sometimes I think, we think we know what kind of help someone needs. And when we offer to help, to listen, and really listen to the kind of help and the way that somebody wants you to help them. And to not assume that, you know, because those moments sort of can happen very quickly. And then all of a sudden, you know, if somebody's helping me, I don't know, get up a curb, and they're kind of doing their own thing, and not quite listening to what I need, then all of a sudden, it can become dangerous for me.
So I think it's just like, to listen, and to really, to, to drop in, I guess, and to not just like rush or assume. And, you know, the other part of it is just like to be a human right, like, to be a good person, and to remain sensitive, but also realize that there are people with disabilities everywhere in the world. And then it seems like it's something that's unique, but it's not that unique. One in five Americans identify with having a disability. So it's all around us, I just think it's something that we don't want to look at, in the eye. So, so I just always encourage, encourage people to just drop in and not not get fearful and to realize that we're all just people. Yeah, you know, and we're all just trying our best and so to listen and to observe and to not assume, do not assume
fair enough.Is there pressure associated with you being in a wheelchair to make others comfortable around you?
I used to feel that way, growing up for sure that I had a responsibility to make everybody else feel comfortable. But I don't really feel that way anymore. You know, as we grow, and we mature, we realize that we don't have control over how people feel about our, you know, right. I don't have any control over how somebody feels about me. But I'm, so I, I guess, I guess I would, I would answer this question by saying that, you know, I am super sensitive to how people respond and are around me, but I try not to take it on.
Because, you know, whatever somebody is afraid of, or anxious about, or, or judgmental around is not something that has to do with me.
Is it hard to not personalize it?
It used to be but you know, at this point, I'm more I'm so used to it, right? So when I do maybe feel offended or feel like hurt by the way somebody is responding. I have to I just remind myself that this has nothing to do with me this has to do with their conditioning and their experiences and the way that they were they grew up and what they've been exposed to, doesn't have anything to do with me.
How challenging is it navigating life in New York City in a wheelchair.
New York is tricky. New York is a tricky one for for anyone in a chair. I you know, the subways are not all accessible. So I always took Ubers and cabs, which also like sort of creates other kinds of challenges, dealing with people who you know a new person every single time you get in the car to help you with your chair and now have that sort of dialogue and that dance of getting you in and out. Yeah. And, and obviously, you know, the sidewalks and you know, certain buildings and stores are not accessible. But you know, I love New York. And so I compromise for New York. And then, at times, I really am exhausted by New York. And I'm actually not living in Manhattan at the moment. During pandemic, my fiance and I moved, but we, you know, I'm in New York all the time. And one of the things that I love about it is that it is really challenging. So it just keeps me on my toes and remind me that I can do anything. Yeah. And New York, whether you're in a chair or not, is really tough for anyone, and it sort of, I always say kind of builds character, if they experience living in New York,
let's talk about Oklahoma. Now, anybody who wants to check out some YouTube videos of your performance in Oklahoma needs to do that. Well check out YouTube videos of any of your performances, because your voice is just absolutely out of this world. And you are so good at what you do. I recommend any listener to check out your performances. So where do you draw that sort of energy from?
When I was growing up? I knew the musical Oklahoma, and it was a show that was sort of fell into kind of like musical theater standards. Yeah, like classical musical theater. And I sort of judged eight oh, Annie, I always thought she was kind of like, not so smart. And so I, when I auditioned for this production, it was one of my main goals to really not judge her as a character, and to kind of find the truth behind who she was. And the truth was, or at least this is what I found when I played her was that she's just really curious. And she doesn't apologize for who she is. So playing her every night was such a blast, you know, and singing her song can't say no, is such an anthem for saying yes, in your life and for not being ashamed of yourself. And so that was just so fun. I mean, you could tell it was wonderful one of the things I didn't really have to like, find any energy, I just, it just all kind of came out of me because it was, it was a person that I identified with and that I felt so strongly about portraying in an honest and authentic way.
Yeah, I mean, you could tell that you were so comfortable, and you were having so much fun. And it was just it was really, really good.
Thank you so much.
Oh, you're very welcome. So tell me when will we see more actors represented in wheelchairs? on the big screen, on Broadway? What are your thoughts on that?
Well, I wish I could say exactly our own that will happen. I don't have that kind of power. However, I think there is a lot more representation, authentic representation happening across the board. There's also so much more content being made, you know, with all the streaming services and the ways that we experienced entertainment at this point. So I think that there's just more and more to come. And I feel so strongly about all of that representation being authentic, I don't think it's acceptable to cast someone who is not disabled in a disabled role that does not sit well with me. And so that's something that I speak about, and that I advocate for. And I just know that that we are in a time of change across the board. And I really believe that there's going to be more and more representation across the boards. And in film and on stage.
what advice would you give your younger self or any listener who has aspirations of being on Broadway, being on the big screen, and they have a disability? What would you say to them?
I would say to get really clear about what your strengths are and to put all of your energy into that, to not worry so much about what you can't do. And this is sort of advice across the board, whether it be somebody with a disability or not, you know, every single human being has limitations. So I would say, really, really get, you know, get to know all of your strengths and, and put your attention there and get as good as possible work really hard, as an artist create structure for yourself. Because when you create structure, and when you challenge yourself, and you work really hard, that then puts you in a position to feel freedom as an artist, because you know, what you do you know how you do it, and you have all of your tools. And then the last piece of advice I would give is to really stay patient and not give up. Because a lot of a lot of the experience of being an actor is rejection and not getting roles. But those are just moments of getting you closer to the things that you are going to do. So you know, you're going to get a lot of no's before you get yeses. Don't give up when you're getting the no's, don't give up, stay patient and stay persistent. If it's something that you really, really want, and you believe that you need to do.
And you're at this place now where you've achieved a lot of success. How did you cope with the no's? I mean, your industry is full of rejection, probably more rejection than not. So how did you process that? When you were, you know, only a few years into your efforts and your pursuits in this field.
It was really hard. You know, it was really difficult to hear no. But I, you know, I always surrounded myself with people who made me feel supported and good and reminded me that I really had, you know, gifts to give. And then also, I would create my own work. Like, during all those times, I had this one woman show that I did, I've had actually many one woman shows. And I just I think I just knew that I had to do it. I just loved performing more than anything in the world. So I didn't have a plan B, I didn't have any other options. This was the only thing in my life that I could imagine myself doing. So the rejection was just a part of arriving at the successes. And I think it made me tougher, it reminded me of what I was made of and and why I wanted this so much.
So what projects are you working on now?
I have a book coming out on April 14 called the chance to fly and its a middle grade.
Thank you. It's a middle grade fiction that I wrote with my writing partner Stacy Davidowitz, and it's for teenagers, and it's about a girl in a wheelchair, who does her first show ever. And she has she meets all these new friends and she has her first crush. And then of course, something goes wrong. And they have to, they have to come together and try to solve this huge problem. And the book means so much to me, because here's some of the most vulnerable and special moments of my teenage years.
And and yeah, so I, I it comes out in April, and I just finished doing the audio book for it. So if you're interested in listening to it, that'll be available as well
of course, say the name of the book again.
It's called the chance to fly.
it's coming out April 14?
Okay. And where can we find the book?
You can find the book on Amazon and many smaller book shops as well.
And there's an audio book for those of us who commute?
I will definitely check out your book. One more question before we end our time together. What is your fondest memory of NYU?
Oh, so great. Um, my fondest memory of NYU is all of the people that I met and the beautiful friends who are who are still part of my life and we just had so much fun over over the years and just learning so much about what it meant to be an artist what it meant to be a collaborator. And just really learning what it meant to trust myself and that I could move through any obstacle and I could use my creativity to solve problems
Awesome. Well from one jersey girl to another, I thank you so much for your time today. I really appreciate you taking time out of your very busy schedule and talking to us and to our listeners, and sharing your story. It's an important conversation to have.
Thank you. Thank you again so much.
And we're proud of you at NYU. Keep up the amazing work that you're doing. We're all watching you. And thank you again.
Thank you have a wonderful 2021 and stay safe.
Thank you and same to you. Thank you to my guest Ali and to all of our listeners for joining us for today's episode of you matter if any information presented was triggering or disturbing. Please feel free to contact the wllness exchange at 212-443-9999 or Mr. US Department of Campus Safety and their Victim Services Unit at 212-998-2222. Please share like and subscribe to you matter on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, tune in Spotify or Stitcher