Interview: model-actress-singer Alexandra Ackerman on her colorful life in New York City
Whether or not you know her name, you’ve likely heard her voice on popular television commercials or seen her face on the cover of romance novels. Alexandra Ackerman is a model, actress, and singer who found success working her way through the entertainment industry in Hollywood but ultimately bolted for New York City because it’s “where the musical theater is.” She talks with Stabley Times about how and why she first set her sights on the industry, how things have changed now that she’s on the east coast, where her gigs come from, and why she does what she does.
There is no typical day in the life of an actress. “If I am rehearsing a project,” she says, “I still audition during the day and rehearse at night. Filming takes more time and the days are much longer so that doesn’t happen.” So what gets her through the most grueling of workdays? “Coffee,” she admits. But the hard work merely comes with the territory for someone who has wanted to be an actress more or less literally since birth.
“I was born in Los Angeles and my birth announcement said ‘A Star is born,’” she recalls. “How ironic? Acting and singing is in my blood. I have always wanted to act and sing. The only other three professions that were on my list as a child were ballerina, artist, and veterinarian. As I got older I realized I despised ballet, I realized you had to see animals hurt as a vet and I couldn’t handle that, and I still love drawing and painting but as a hobby. Acting and singing was always my number one desire.”
However, those ambitions were reined in during her youth. “There is a home video where I am about nine years old and I say to my father, ‘Daddy I want to be an actress!’ He answers uh huh, like that is not happening while I can prevent it. My parents were realistic about the biz. They told me when I am 18 and out of the house I can go for it. They wouldn’t get me an agent when I was a child. I guess looking back that may have been a good thing considering the history of child stars, but i was very upset and just wanted to be taken to auditions especially for the musical Les Miserables. My parents did recommend me to a performing arts high school, which honestly was not the best experience, but it did teach me how to balance.” While the acting bug was there from the start, she says the modeling gigs “just happened.”
The move across country has turned out to be an exchange of one kind of urban chaos for another. “When I was in Los Angeles, I would sometime have four auditions a day all over town and driving to each was something else! Between my self submitting and my agents submitting me, it was pretty stressful to drive all over town. I would have multiple outfits in my car and shoes. Some days I’d be going for a super sexy role then a musical ingenue, very different roles and very different attire required,” she explains. Traversing the public transport of New York City has been even more of a challenge because “I am a bag lady. I carry it all with me.”
Although she admits that her trek eastward was solely for career reasons, she’s taken a liking to the Big Apple. “After being in New York City for almost two years now, I really love it for its diversity and pace. I am really just loving living in a new city that provides so much stimulation for me on all levels. California weather is perfect and the lifestyle is easier, but New York has really enchanted me.”
Despite not having anything specific lined up when she arrived in town, persistence quickly paid off. “I was auditioning a lot and landed a national voiceover commercial for Herbal Essences and a few other television gigs. I did an off off Broadway musical revue and an original musical tour that educates children. I love kids and I love working on projects that inspire children. I also have an upcoming webseries with distribution where I play a former russian model. My background is Russian, Polish and Hungarian, and here in New York I’m cast with a Russian accent a lot.”
Alexandra is also involved in a new genre called therapeutic theater, in the form of a production called Let The Phoenix Rise. “I was put through an intense two week workshop to play the complex role of a young woman who overcomes sexual abuse and drug addiction. The workshop was life changing as an actress and individual.” The show’s mission is to reach out to women and let them know they have options.
“It’s pretty funny,” she says of seeing her own face on the cover of romance novels. “I have a read a few and it’s fun.”
She’s also recently set her sights on the music industry, having penned her first song, which she’s about to record. “I did not ever really want to be a singer songwriter, but i am really enjoying it. We will see where it goes. It is at least a great creative outlet for me.” So why chase so many aspects of the entertainment industry all at once? “I just love working,” she says. “I love being creative. I love sharing with audiences. It is such a joy for me and it excites me.” Learn more: alexandraackerman.com • Facebook