This week, David and Joey chat with the wonderful Karen Olivo about the origins of AFECT, the importance of self discovery, and setting up future generations for success in an industry that continues to demand accountability and transparency.


Karen Olivo (she/they) is a multi-hyphenate living/working on the ancestral lands of the Ho-Chunk Nation in Madison, WI. She is most widely known for their acting work that spans the last 25 years on Broadway and TV. In the Spring of 2020, Olivo  co-founded the non-for-profit organization, Artists for Economic Transparency (AFECT), in the efforts to educate the industry and promote discussion regarding entertainment industry structures and how they can be altered to better support underserved communities. 


Olivo’s most recent theatrical work is for playing “Satine” in Moulin Rouge, The Musical for which they received their 2nd Tony Award nomination. Olivo is also recognized for their Tony Award winning performance as “Anita” in the acclaimed 2009 Broadway revival of West Side Story, a role for which she also earned Drama Desk, Drama League, Outer Critics Circle, and Astaire Award nominations. 


Some of their Broadway theater credits include originating the role of “Vanessa” in the Tony Award-winning musical, In the Heights (2008 Astaire Award), starring as “Faith” in the Broadway production of Brooklyn the Musical, and in Jonathan Larson’s Pulitzer- and Tony Award-winning musical, Rent. Additional world premiere theatre credits include Murder Ballad at the Manhattan Theater Club, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark by Lynn Nottage at 2nd Stage, and The Miracle Brothers directed by Tina Landau at the Vineyard Theatre.


Olivo is also recognized for her many television appearances including a series regular, recurring & guest-starring roles on “Harry’s Law”, “The Good Wife,” “Criminal Minds: Suspect Behavior,” “Chase,” “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit,” “Conviction,” and “Law & Order.”


As an educator Olivo has worked at Northwestern University, NYU-Tisch, Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, University of Wisconsin-Madison, as well as working as a visual artist, writer, and vocalist. Their 1st solo album LEAVE was released in 2018.


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This week, David and Joey chat with actor Reza Salazar about making his Broadway debut this fall in Lynn Nottage’s Clyde’s, surviving a COVID diagnosis, and being part of one of the first outdoor productions in New York City after being shut down for over a year.   

Reza Salazar will make his Broadway debut this fall in Lynn Nottage's Clyde's at The Hayes Theater. Off-Broadway: Richard II, Oedipus El Rey, Mobile Unit’s Shakespeare: Call and Response and The Tempest (Public Theater), My Mañana Comes (Lortel Award Nomination). 

He appeared regionally in the world premiere of Floyd’s by Lynn Nottage (Guthrie Theatre), Sweat (Arena Stage). His TV credits include: “The Accidental Wolf,” (Topic) “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt,” “Daredevil,” (Netflix) “The Blacklist,” “Believe,” “Law & Order” and “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” (NBC), "Louie," (FX) "The Knick," (Cinemax). Reza’s film credits include: The Imperialists Are Still Alive, See Girl Run, The Inquisition of Camilo Sanz. Reza is also a musician who has performed in venues such as Joe’s Pub at The Public Theater.

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Welcome to Season 3 of SolTalk! For our season premiere, David and Joey chat with living legend Luis Alfaro about his recent appointment as one of Center Theatre Group’s newest Associate Artistic Directors, how The Great Pause has become The Great Possibility, and he shares his wisdom for young writers.  


Luis Alfaro was born and raised in downtown Los Angeles and is Center Theatre Group’s newest Associate Artistic Director. He is a Chicano writer known for his work in poetry, theatre, short fiction, performance, and journalism. He is the recipient of a MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, popularly known as the ‘genius’ grant; the PEN America/Laura Pels International Foundation Theater Award for a Master Dramatist; United States Artist Fellowship and Ford Foundation’s Art of Change Fellowship, among others. 


Luis spent six seasons as the Mellon Playwright-in-Residence at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival (2013-2019); a member of the Playwright’s Ensemble at Chicago’s Victory Gardens Theatre (2013-2020); a resident artist at the Mark Taper Forum (1995-2005); and has been associated with the Ojai Playwrights Conference since 2002. His plays and performances include Electricidad, Oedipus El Rey, Mojada, Delano and Body of Faith. Luis spent over two decades in the Los Angeles poetry and performance art communities. He is an Associate Professor with tenure at the University of Southern California (USC). His recent book, The Greek Trilogy of Luis Alfaro, was released by Methuen Drama this past year, and is the winner this year of the prestigious London/Hellenic Prize for 2020. 


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For our Season 2 finale, producer Sammy Lopez joins us to talk about the recently launched Industry Standard Group, his experiences growing up in LA and going to see shows with his abuelita, and his love for the art of gathering.  


Sammy Lopez is a Latinx artist dedicated to uplifting underrepresented voices and stories through the arts. He is a producer, director, digital marketer, and social media manager working on Broadway, Off-Broadway, and online. He is on the producing and social media team for The Old Vic's A CHRISTMAS CAROL and co-produced BE MORE CHILL on Broadway. With Holtzman-Lopez Productions he is developing the new musicals GUN & POWDER (2020 World Premiere at the Signature Theatre), HOW TO DANCE IN OHIO (In Development), BRADICAL (Zoom Edition now streaming on Broadway On Demand), as well as producing the Syracuse University Lewis Hecker Drama Showcase. 


As a social media manager, Sammy is on the team at Marathon Digital representing Broadway productions, regional theatres, and other live entertainment clients in New York City and he is the Chief Media Strategist of, a new website dedicated to promoting artists by removing traditional barriers of entry in theater. In Los Angeles, he spent time developing the social media strategy at Center Theatre Group's Mark Taper Forum, Ahmanson Theatre, the Kirk Douglas Theatre, in addition to working on the LGBTQIA+ Chicano activist/performer Dan Guerrero's acclaimed solo show GAYTINO. 


He is a Supporting Teaching Artist with CO/LAB Theater Group, a non-profit organization offering individuals with developmental disabilities a creative and social outlet through theater and he is proud to be on the New 42 Board of Directors, opening new worlds to young people and families at the New Victory Theatre. Lopez is a founding member of The Industry Standard Group (TISG), a multicultural commercial investment and producing organization strategically formed to promote work reflecting diversity and increase the presence of BIPOC investors and producers in the commercial producing arts and entertainment field. Sammy is a graduate of the Los Angeles County High School for the Arts and the College of Visual and Performing Arts at Syracuse University. 


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On December 4, 2016, The Sol Project officially launched its initiative with the opening night of Alligator by Hilary Bettis, in partnership with New Georges. This week, David and Joey catch up with Hilary to chat about what the future of the American Theatre looks like, what it’s like to go from writing for the stage to writing for the screen, and cultural competency when producing stories of underrepresented communities.


Hilary Bettis is a critically-acclaimed playwright whose work has been developed and produced all over the country including, Roundabout Theatre, New Georges, The Sol Project, Miami New Drama, Studio Theatre, Alley Theatre, New York Theatre Workshop, La Jolla Playhouse, amongst others. Accolades include, Egerton Foundation New Play Awards, National Endowment for the Arts Grant, and a finalist for the Blackburn Prize, Kendeda Award, Nuestras Voces National Playwriting Competition, American Blues Theater’s Blue Ink Award, amongst others.


In television, Bettis won the 2019 Writer’s Guild of America Award for her work on the critically acclaimed, Golden Globe and Emmy Award winning FX series “The Americans.” She wrote for the Hulu miniseries “The Dropout,” starring Kate McKinnon, and Amazon’s “Rodeo Queens” starring Dakota Johnson and Fred Armisen. She’s an alumni of the Sundance Institute Episodic TV Lab, and is developing projects for AMC, Hulu, and PatMa. She’s a graduate of The Juilliard School. Proud member of The Kilroys and WGAEast.


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This week, David and Joey chat with Helen Hayes Award-winning performance artist Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi to hear about her incredible upbringing by a family of artists, the road that lies ahead for Black and Brown trans and gender nonconforming (TGNC) people post the 2020 election, and the importance of the role an artist plays in our society. Today’s episode is released in honor of Transgender Day of Remembrance.  

Dubbed "The Ancient Jazz Priestess of Mother Africa", Lady Dane Figueroa Edidi is a Black, African, Cuban, Indigenous, American Trans performance artist, author (Yemaya’s Daughters, Brew, Wither, Baltimore: A Love Letter, Keeper, Remains: A Gathering Of Bones, Incarnate, For Black Trans Girls Who Gotta Cuss A Mother Fucker Out When Snatching An Edge Ain’t Enough, Solace, Infrastructure Of A Nation). 

She is a Helen Hayes nominated actress, author, educator, speech writer and Helen Hayes Award winning Playwright (Klytmnestra: An Epic Slam Poem (2020), For Black Trans Girls…, Ghost/Writer, The Diaz Family Talent Show, Quest of The Reed Marsh Daughter, The Dance of Memories), Advocate, Dramaturg, a 2x Helen Hayes Award nominated choreographer (2016, 2018) and co-editor of the Black Trans Prayer Book.

She is the founder of The Inanna D Initiatives, which curates, produces and cultivates events and initiatives designed to center and celebrate the work of TGNC Artists of Color.

Considered one of the most prolific artists of our time, she is the first Trans woman of color to be nominated for a Helen Hayes Award (2016) and in DC to publish a work of Fiction (Yemaya’s Daughters (2013).  

She is the curator and a co-producer of Long Wharf Theatre’s Black Trans Women At The Center: An Evening of Short Plays.

Her radio play, Quest of The Reed Marsh Daughter, can be heard on the Girl Tale’s Podcast, and her play The Diaz Family Talent Show can be read on the Play at Home Website.

She was featured as Patra in King Ester and acted as a story consultant for the series. She wrote episode 9 (Refuge) of Round House Theater’s web series Homebound, and was one of the writers for Arena Stage’s short film The 51st State.

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Welcome to the second half of our fall season! This week, David and Joey chat with Obie Award-winning actor Liza Colón-Zayas to hear about her legacy with LAByrinth Theater Company, her long-time relationship with playwright Stephen Adly Guirgis, and the importance of visibility and representing the full spectrum of humanity on stage and screen. 

Liza Colón-Zayas is an original member of LAByrinth Theater Company. She earned the 2020 Obie, Drama Desk and Outer Critics Circle awards for her performance in Stephen Adly Guirgis’s critically acclaimed Halfway Bitches Go Straight To Heaven. She has originated roles in eight Guirgis plays including: In Arabia We’d All Be Kings, Our Lady of 121st Street, The Last Days of Judas Iscariot, and The Little Flower of East Orange - all directed by Philip Seymour Hoffman. Liza received a Lortel Award for her performance in the Pulitzer-winner Between Riverside and Crazy. She received an HOLA Award for the Pulitzer-winner Water By The Spoonful by Quiara Algeria Hudes as well as Lortel nominations for Living Out, and Mary Jane. Liza toured Europe in The Story of a Soldier and Othello, directed by Peter Sellers. She has a recurring role as Principal Fallow on the Peabody Award-winning series David Makes Man (OWNTV).

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In this episode leading up to the 2020 Presidential Election, David and Joey sit down with directors Estefanía Fadul and Galia Backal to discuss their collaboration on Carla’s Quince, an immersive virtual experience that uses theatricality to empower Latinx voters in the U.S. to use their vote to create the change they want to see in their communities.


Estefanía Fadul (she/her) is an NYC-based Colombian-American director and producer of new work. Recent: Carla’s Quince created with The Voting Project, Noelle Viñas’ Zoom Intervention (Weston Playhouse, NYTimes Critics Pick), Christina Quintana’s Azul (Southern Rep) and Scissoring (INTAR), Stefan Ivanov’s The Same Day (Sfumato Theatre, Bulgaria), and Preston Max Allen and Jessica Kahkoska’s Agent 355 (Chautauqua, NYSAF). Estefanía is the inaugural recipient of New York Stage and Film’s Pfaelzer Award, an alumna of the Drama League’s Fall Fellowship and TV Directing Fellowship, O’Neill/NNPN National Directors Fellowship, Foeller Fellowship at Williamstown, Van Lier Fellowship at Repertorio Español, and NALAC Leadership Institute. She is a co-leader of the New Georges Jam, and a member of the Latinx Theatre Commons steering committee, Lincoln Center Directors Lab, and SDC. B.A. Vassar College.


Galia Backal (she/her) has acted as director and creator for collaborative works including A Very Girly Story (EAT), One Day Older (Theatre Row), Silence (The Tank), Nightcap (Match:Lit Theatre Company), and If I Dare (Layton Studios). Galia is a cohort member of the 2020 – 2021 Roundabout Directors Group, The Civilians 2020 - 2021 R & D Group. She has worked with The Sol Project, The Drama League, Samuel French, Atlantic Theater Company, The Broadway League, Theatre for a New Audience, The Tank, and LaGuardia Performing Arts Center. Recent productions include Inútil by Alisha Espinosa (Teatro LATEA), Canciones Project Workshop by Beto O’Byrne (The Sol Project), The End Of Incorporated Filth by Chloe Hayat (The Chain Theater), West Side Story (Bay View Music Festival), Latch by Tom Mularz (Samuel French OOB Festival), Gruesome Playground Injuries by Rajiv Joseph (Schaeberle), and July 7, 1994 by Donald Margulies (Schaeberle). 




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This week, David and Joey kiki with star of screen and stage Robin de Jesús about his role as Emory in The Boys in the Band, figuring out how to age gracefully like Jane Fonda, and never losing the will power to stay curious. 


Robin de Jesús is a three-time Tony Award nominated actor. He received his first major role in the 2003 cult-classic film, Camp. He has since gone on to perform in various Broadway productions including: Rent, In The Heights (for which he received his first Tony nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Musical), La Cage Aux Folles (his second nomination), Wicked, and The Boys in the Band (for which he received his third nomination).

Additional theater credits include the Paper Mill Playhouse's productions of Grease and Godspell, the Shakespeare Theatre of NJ's production of A Very Old Man with Enormous Wings, the St. Louis Muny production of Aladdin as the title character, and the off-Broadway productions of Malpractice Makes Perfect, Zorba Musicals in Mufti, Patti Issues, Domesticated, and Homos or Everyone in America.

Robin can also be seen in various feature films and television projects such as Gun Hill Road (2011), Hair Brained (2013), How to Make it in America (2010) and in the recurring role of "Jose Silva" on Law & Order: SVU. He can be seen in the newly released Netflix film adaptation of The Boys in the Band (2020), produced by Ryan Murphy, where he reprises his Tony award-nominated role. He is currently in production for Lin-Manuel Miranda’s film adaptation of Tick Tick Boom.


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On this episode, David and Joey celebrate the launch of La Gente: The Latinx Theatre Design Network with three of its organizing members: Ana Maria Aburto, Regina Garcia, and Tanya Orellana. They talk about the origins of the network, the call for V.E.A. (visibility, engagement, and advocacy), and the abolition of unpaid/underpaid work.


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