Alumna Makes Off-Broadway Debut


Ariella Mastroianni plays Rebecca is “SIXTY DAYS” at Cherry Lane Theatre. (PHOTO BY CATHERINE POWELL / COURTESY OF ARIELLA MASTROIANNI)


On Jan. 26, 2016, Ariella Mastroianni (FCLC ’13) made her Off-Broadway debut as Rebecca in “Sixty

Days,” written and directed by John Faughnan, “To Redemption” at Cherry Lane Theatre: a theatre that has seen the likes of James Earl Jones in “The Pretenders”, Barbara Streisand in “Purple Dust” and Dennis Quaid in “True West”.

However, before Ariella found herself Off-Broadway, she was a journalism and philosophy double major with a minor in design at Fordham College Lincoln Center, and was one of the first online editors for The Observer. Here, Ariella chats about her time at Fordham, her current line of work as an agent assistant and her current performance.

The Observer: How did you become an agent assistant?

SIXTY DAYS Jan 26 thru Jan 29th 2016
“Sixty Days” runs Off-Broadway at Cherry Lane Jan. 26-29, 7pm nightly. (COURTESY OF CHERRY LANE THEATRE)

“Sixty Days” runs Off-Broadway at Cherry Lane Jan. 26-29, 7pm nightly. (COURTESY OF CHERRY LANE THEATRE)Ariella Mastroianni: It was kind of an accident. I used to be managed by somebody who works in Columbus Circle. He called me one day and he said “Ariella,” and I said “Sid! Hi, how are you?” and he said “Listen, you’re smart right?” I was thinking, “I hope so, I mean like I’m in school we’ll see about that.” He was said, “My assistant needs to take off and I was wondering if you can just come in and handle the phones because I’m going to be away” and I said, “Yeah, but I don’t know what to do” and he was like, “Just answer the phones. Just take messages and answer the phones,” and I said, “I’m capable of that.” So I went in the next day to his office. When the first phone call came in and I went to put the phone on speaker, I pushed the phone right off the desk. And it was one of his really great voice-over agents calling for one of the kids because we managed kids and it was just off the desk. I was so nervous. I ended up becoming his assistant because his assistant who I was filling in for ended up quitting like a month later, so I kind of just fell into that job, and then I just moved around after that. I worked at a music agency and then I got linked up with my boss and we just stuck together the last few years.

O: And working at this agency allows you time to rehearse or go on auditions if you need to?

AM: Oh no, being on the agency side, it’s tough. I remember my first year being an agent assistant… usually all agencies open at 10 a.m. but I would be there earlier and would stay there until 10 or 11 o’clock at night. I never took a day off and never left for lunch. I was always at my desk, on it, because my boss—she’s a veteran agent. She’s been in the business for years. She represents Al Pacino and Arnold Schwarzenegger for personal appearances, so she works with a lot of high profile people and that’s how it is. You get in there and it’s really tough and kind of terrifying at times, but you stay there for hours so I really don’t have time, or I didn’t have time, especially when I was starting, to pursue anything else.

O: How do you think you apply philosophy and journalism to what you’re doing now as an agent assistant or to performing?

AM: Well, journalism—I write emails all day. My boss handles personal appearances; what we do is find our artists jobs, and in order to do that, we have to pitch it, and in order to pitch it, you have to be able to simplify things and have your nut graph and have your lead and you have to give them the parts of the story that are most important for them to buy and for them to sell to an audience.

Philosophy is just an overall skill. But, with both disciplines you take yourself out of a situation, and that’s what I love about philosophy and journalism and that’s what I love about acting. And that’s why it’s important to me to have done both things, because you’re really giving people an opportunity to step up outside themselves and consider the overall presence of the picture, maybe not even the big picture, but give them a glimpse of what it could seem like to someone else. I feel like we can’t live our lives in a tunnel vision. What we know is that we’re here together, so we need to figure out the best way to live among each other.

O: You’re going to be in an Off-Broadway play next week. Tell us a little bit about the show, “Sixty Days.” Online it says, “It’s a story about an unconventional marriage between a man and a woman.”

AM: That’s it. It’s a very simple plot idea. The actual play is very basic; what you read is essentially the plot. It very much is a story that relies on performance and script. It shows how you can have a very gray area with something—it’s not always resolved and it’s not always black or white and that’s what the couple is going through. I play the woman’s best friend who she comes to and seeks advice, and I’m an optimist but I’m also very dissatisfied with dating. So I’m also in a gray area because I want to be in love, but everybody makes me miserable, and we have a whole moment in act two when we go back and forth just about how not simple things are. So that’s what it is, there are dramatic elements and it gets intense but the plot is very simple.

The writer I met not at Fordham but during college. I still took private acting classes, and there was a kid in my class who was a part of an indie psychological thriller, and he liked my work in the class so he asked me to read for it, so I worked with him on that project. It was called “Chrysalis.”

O: Oh yeah, I saw that on your IMDB account.

AM: Yeah, that’s in post-production, but there I met the writer/director. The director was Alexia Oldini, but she co-wrote it with John Faughnan, who was the star.He acted and wrote it,  and then somewhere along the way we did that film and we kinda lost touch. And then this last year I realized I really wanted to get back into performing, because I put it aside; I wanted to focus on truly giving myself to my job and I’m trying to best understand it as much as possible and really take advantage of it. But then I just didn’t feel like myself, so I reconnected with people. I called  [Faughnan] up in the fall and we got drinks, and he was working on another play at Cherry Lane that was his theatre premiere because he mostly does film writing. And he recently gave me a call and said, “I’m doing another play. I want you to read for it.” So that’s how it happened.

O: Do you consider yourself an actress first or a journalist first?

AM: An actress—I’m an accidental journalist. I was horrible at writing, and because I was horrible at it, I knew that was the one thing I wanted to achieve…Really the point of college is to find out who you are and take advantage of the brilliant people who are there and all the different things they might offer. Because you never know—you might walk into a science class and think, “Actually, science is really cool. I want to be a chem person.” But, actress first.

O: What advice would you give students who are, like you were, pursuing degrees in other fields but are also still acting or dancing or still really engrossed in the performing arts world?

AM: I honestly would suggest using college to tap into those parts of themselves, and then take advantage of the city. That’s the thing about Fordham—we’re not isolated. It’s a building on 60th, we’re right in the heart of it. Let’s say you have two classes a day; it’s like five hours of your day, and you can take advantage of the rest of the day to audition or to write. I also really encourage people to focus on the holistic aspect. I encourage actors to write and to create their own content or direct, or writers to perform, just to get a sense of the full range of what your art is. I would advise that students just take advantage. Do something outside of your comfort zone, because as a performer that’s what you have to do. You have to push yourself to different limits, and you have to see the world through other people’s eyes. And you can’t do that by living life as yourself.

O: That is such a good point. What are your plans for afterward? After your show closes, what are your short-term or long-term goals?

AM: I think it’s up in the air right now. I know what I want to do. I’m in an interesting position because of my job, and I do love what I do. I do love my boss a lot. I feel like I love my boss more than I love the industry. She’s such a special person. She’s just very direct, very simple. She knows what the business is. I definitely want to continue performing. How I’ll get there, I don’t know. I’m going to keep myself open and keep doing things that challenge me.

You can purchase tickets to see Ariella in “Sixty Days” online at, or call Ovation Tix at (866) 811-4111. Jan. 26-29, 7 p.m., nightly. Cherry Lane Theatre, 38 Commerce Street, New York, NY.