For Emma Wisniewski, acting is not just an interest. It is in her DNA. Both of her parents were actors and she remembers watching her mom perform when she was very young.
“My parents were both actors as well – in fact, my earliest memory is of my mother playing Lady Macbeth, and as a kid I always thought, that is the absolute coolest job in the world,” she said.
Starting with her first drama classes in elementary school, acting has taken Wisniewski from the Frank Sinatra High School for the Arts to The Secret Theatre, from Off-Broadway to St. Louis. The Astoria actress has appeared onstage and on camera throughout her career.
While she described herself as a “shy and insecure kid,” acting gave Wisniewski a way to project herself and have people listen to her. As she got older, she also fell in love with the art of storytelling and the way actors translate those stories to an audience.
“Actors have a unique power to communicate important things in a way that people understand more deeply, because when you watch a play or film, you recognize and empathize with the people in front of you and that hooks you in,” she said.
Although Wisniewski learned plenty at New York University’s Tisch/Stella Adler Studio of Acting, her time with The Secret Theatre gave her the first taste of a real-world theater program. She said that experience gave her a behind-the-scenes look at the day-to-day work of a theater as a business and a career.
“I developed an appreciation for all the other jobs that need to be done to put on a show,” she said. “But most importantly, it was my first opportunity to watch professional actors at work. There’s really nothing like working with someone who’s been doing it a lot longer than you.”
Last fall, Wisniewski’s journey led her Off-Broadway to the Pearl Theatre Company’s production of “You Can Never Tell,” by George Bernard Shaw. The four-act comedy is set in a seaside town and tells the story of Mrs. Clandon and her three children who do not know their father’s identity.
“I couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect first professional job. I’ll be coming back to the things I learned there for the rest of my career,” Wisniewski said.
Wisniewski temporarily left New York for St. Louis, where she just wrapped up a role in the premiere of “Soups, Stews and Casseroles: 1976” by Rebecca Gilman, her first regional appearance.
“Although I love the classics, new work has always been very exciting to me, and the prospect of being a part of a world premiere was something I just couldn’t pass up – especially when the playwright is Rebecca Gilman, whose work I’ve admired for ages,” she said. “She’s one of the best America’s got right now, so I was thrilled.”
Wisniewski said she plans to head back to New York and begin auditioning again to find her next role.
To keep up with her latest work, visit www.emma-wisniewski.com.