My Career Choice: Cassandra Seidenfeld – Actor, Humanitarian

Cassandra Seidenfeld is a very busy actor who also manages to give back big time. A graduate of Columbia University, Cassandra completed the two year program at William Esper Conservatory. She has been nominated to be on the advisory board of Columbia’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and also serves as an advisory board member and global ambassador of Women4Empowerment and Sunshine Family Global. Her other activities include the African Rainforest Conservancy, Southampton Hospital, the Humane Society, and the American Cancer Society.

Her acting credits include appearances on the top rated CBS show Person of Interest. She was in Guild Hall’s Labor Day Production of The Night of 75 Stars, alongside Alec Baldwin and Bob Balaban. She will play Mary of Bethany in Lisa Crapella’s The Story of Jesus, Marion Rousseau in Planetary Studio’s The Huntress, and Lucienne in David Barckhoff and Kevin Sorbo’s Struggle Into The Light.

Can you point to one event that triggered your interest in your career?
This is a very interesting question. I would probably say that there is not a specific event that triggered my interest in acting. However, Shakespeare has been enormously influential in both my career and my life. I’ve always loved watching classic movies and I dreamt of being many of the central characters.

What about this career choice did you find most appealing?
When it comes to acting, I find the process of discovering other characters most appealing. When doing meaningful character work, one must be able to give more than 100 percent of themselves. One needs to be willing to be brutally open to exploring and developing traits, habits, and personal experiences within and beyond one’s comfort levels adding life to their character’s lives. This process can be daunting, intriguing, liberating and inspirational.

What steps did you take to begin your education or training?
I unknowingly began my education when I became enchanted with watching classic movies like Vertigo, Casablanca, All About Eve, Sunset Boulevard , Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, and many more wonderfully acted, written, directed and produced films. While studying at Columbia University in 2010, I became obsessed with the stage. I listened to a Shakespeare class while waiting for my own class to begin. Each day of class, I arrived earlier and earlier to listen in on the Shakespeare class. The following semester I changed my entire curriculum.

Along the way, were people encouraging or discouraging?
Family supports you almost no matter what, which is a blessing. Sometimes when you feel that things just aren’t clicking, family and true friends support, encourage, and provide strength or hope when you need it most. I think that, like forces of nature, there are always people that have concerns about someone’s career. Their concerns can translate into encouragement or dissuasion, both usually stemming from a place of caring.

Did you ever doubt your decision and attempt a career change?
No, not at all.

Cassie2When did your career reach a tipping point?
My career has not reached a tipping point. I work very hard and I’m focused on doing what I love as well as I can.

Can you describe a challenge you had to overcome?
Hmmm. Where to start? I’ve experienced many challenges in my life, at NYU, and at Columbia University. I suppose relevant to the Acting world, the most poignant challenge to date is trusting your choice as an actor. When auditioning or performing on stage or in film, trust the choices that you have set forth and be open to the director’s vision. This will enable actors an accessible ease when making subtle changes. I have found that when you are willing to work with your director, meaningful work is produced.

What single skill has proven to be most useful?
I love this question! I think perhaps it’s my favorite question so far! The single most powerful tool in my growing toolbox is my ability to listen.

What accomplishment are you most proud of?
To date, I am overwhelmed, blessed, humbled and ever grateful to have portrayed Johnna Monevata in The Rep’s August Osage County by Tracy Letts which ran through June 21st, 2015. It was directed by Bob Hupp for almost 10,000 people.

Any advice for others entering your profession?
Yes, if I may modestly share any sort of advice for actors, it would be to follow your heart/passion, which leads you to your dreams and to do the best you can to succeed. If you ever feel that you’re swimming against the tide, which we often do, there are support platforms like Actors Access and Stage32 that provide networks to peers who are experiencing similar challenges. I highly recommend the use of these incredible platforms.