Amanda & Her Uniform



“I was born and raised in Pasadena, California and a part of my heart is definitely still on the West Coast. I currently live in Chicago; I came here for college and founded a theater company, First Floor Theater, just after graduation, so my roots here are pretty deep now as well. I’ve been in Chicago for almost a decade and, in addition to running First Floor, I work in the city as an actor and a teaching artist.

I had a brief stint in New York. I thought I was going to go into politics. I was studying speech writing at NYU but I deeply missed the opportunity to integrate the arts into my field of study and I ended up transferring to the University of Chicago. There, I majored in Theater and Performance Studies and English, and it was at UofC that started to see what a professional life in the theater would look like. Right out of school, I was focused on laying the foundation for the business-side of First Floor ( we’re now in our sixth season!) and I did my professional acting training at The ACADEMY at Black Box Acting. The team at Black Box are some of the most inspiring people I have ever met, artistically and personally. I completed my teacher training last year, and now I am grateful to be teaching there myself.

Being a working artist is living a dream I don’t take for granted, but there’s definitely a less glamorous side to the freelance schedule. There are stretches of time when I can sleep in on the weekdays, and then there are days on end when I work 14 straight hours, and then there are days I have nothing to do when I wish I did. The lack of predictability can be challenging but, honestly, I wouldn’t trade it for anything.


I think for me, being powerful ties back into how I was raised. I was told no, as a child, as little as possible, which is really a credit to my parents. Unless I was in urgent physical danger, I was basically allowed to try almost anything, go down any path, and make my own mistakes. I was never told I couldn’t do something because I was a girl. I was never discouraged from trying. As an adult, that has translated to a lack of fear of the world around me and that has given me a freedom and a confidence to fail. That willingness to try and fail is tied up with power for me. Power is not always being the model of perfect action or behavior, but rather taking the risk to be wrong, saying you’re wrong, and having the confidence of self to own that failure and still try again. I do also recognize that being able to confront the world unafraid is a privilege. It’s not a privilege I feel every day, especially in 2018, but when I am in that position of power, I feel the responsibility of that power is to fight to make our communities – on a micro and macro level – safer for all.


I wear a very similar outfit every day. I think of having a uniform as somewhere in between full on minimalism and accumulating for the sake of what’s on trend. I definitely haven’t thrown out all my clothes or anything drastic, but I have 5 to 6 categories of things that I know I look good in, confident in, attractive in, and present my best self in.

I have so many pairs of jeans. I wear jeans every day. I don’t have any pair that is completely redundant. I have black jeans, ripped jeans, button-fly jeans, boyfriend, light wash, dark wash, vintage. They all do something slightly different, but they are all jeans and I’m wearing them 95% of the time. Black, hunter green, grey, and off-white are the four colors I have in my closet. But most of my shifts are black. I leave blouses hanging in my closet all year round and I swap out t-shirts and sweaters depending on the season. I can pull anything out of the jeans drawer and pull a top off the closet with my eyes closed and they will go together, I will feel good in them, and comfortable. I wear almost the same jewelry and makeup every day. As an actor, having a uniform and being able to so cleanly say I am dressing like myself today is a fun literal division from when I’m working and I’m in wardrobe or in costume. Knowing this is what I wear everyday, having “rules”, makes it more fun when I break my own rules. I’m not saying I’m never going to show up in, say, a bright floral jumpsuit. And then when I do, it’s a statement. It’s a deliberate choice and it feels really exciting, maybe even a little more dangerous. At the end of the day, it’s a way of articulating my external appearance in a manner that’s just for me.” insta: @firstfloortheater insta@blackboxacting



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