Who Are the People in Your Neighborhood?
Where Are They Now: Spotlight on Alumni
Actor. Director. Writer. Kathleen Wise
- Kathleen in Ensemble Theater’s GROUNDED last year. GROUNDED is a one woman play about a fighter pilot written by George Brant.
- Kathleen Wise today - 16 years after graduating from Wyoming High School.
- Kathleen in the Wyoming High School production of Anastasia with fellow thespians Scott Schimp, Ryann Turner, and Scott Allison.
- Kathleen and Jon Stollenmeyer at Wyoming High School Prom in 2000.
As a child growing up in Wyoming, young Kathleen Wise knew she wanted to be an actress. But sometimes the journey isn’t what one expects, “Pursuing my dream of being an actress has been a very non-linear and exciting journey.” After 13 years (“give or take”) pursuing this dream, Kathleen can clearly see the challenges and rewards of her chosen profession. “There is a lot of heartbreak and non-stop hustling that wears you down, but when I am actually performing or directing or creating work and doing what I love, I am so grateful for the hard work I've put into it to get here. I feel so lucky to work with such amazing artists, meeting new people all the time, doing different projects. There is never a dull moment when the work is different every day!”
Life Beyond Wyoming
Kathleen graduated from Wyoming High School in 2001, and she headed to Sarah Lawrence College just north of New York City to pursue a Bachelor of Arts. While originally intending to pursue writing, Kathleen “ultimately did a variety of performing arts and French literature, with a year abroad studying dance and painting in Paris and Senegal.”
After graduation from the small liberal arts college, Kathleen moved across the country to Los Angeles, “where I discovered a wonderful Shakespeare company where I earned my Equity card, all the while waitressing and doing odd jobs to make ends meet.” Being accepted into the prestigious New York University’s three year Graduate Acting Master of Fine Arts program brought Kathleen back to New York City, and New York City has been her home base ever since. But being an actor, director, and writer rarely keeps Kathleen in one location for very long. She loves the travel opportunities in her chosen path – and has had film shoots in Panama, Uruguay, and Montana. “My work takes me everywhere: regional theater all over the country, film and commercial work abroad, as well as returning to Cincinnati to teach and direct at Xavier and performing at the Cincinnati Playhouse.”
Life Changing Roles
Kathleen was nominated for this feature after a Wyoming resident saw her performance at Cincinnati’s Ensemble Theater in GROUNDED, a one woman show about a fighter pilot who is reassigned as a drone operator. “It was the role of a lifetime and a life-changing experience for me, doubly rewarding to have the opportunity to perform it here in my hometown, where my friends and family could see my work for the first time in many years.”
Life Looking Ahead
When asked about where Kathleen sees herself in ten years, she is firm in her commitment to her craft. “I would love to be directing more, both film and theater. I have written several plays and screenplays that I want to see performed and filmed. I directed my first short film this fall and loved every minute of it.” Kathleen is dedicated to creating works of art that speak directly to social and political change. She has a passion to create works for and by women. Kathleen understands the powers and possibilities of her profession. “Artists have a responsibility to use our voices, bodies, and talents for social good. I am always hungry to create art that makes a difference.”
And Kathleen admits, her childhood dream still resonates, “I'll always have the childhood dream of being on Broadway and/or winning an Oscar. It's silly to admit, but I can't deny it.”
Life Comes Full Circle, Back in Wyoming
Like so many Wyoming High School Alumni, Kathleen confesses, she wasn’t able to fully appreciate the community spirit of Wyoming until leaving and returning. “My father died during the summer before my junior year and when I returned to school that fall, there was a support system I didn't appreciate until years later. Most importantly were the teachers who were there for me in a way that literally saved me: my English teacher, Cindy Briggs was not only my writing mentor, but my friend. My drama teacher, Eve Bolton, was a huge force and mentor to me, as I found solace in the theater and discovered my passion for the work. Both remain dear friends to me today.”
Kathleen was back in Cincinnati during the winter months, directing Hamlet at Xavier University. Being in Cincinnati gave her the opportunity to spend time with her mother, Linda; sister, Johanna; and niece, Annika, all whom reside in Wyoming. And it allowed Kathleen to reflect on her words of advice for high school students at Wyoming today. “Find your allies. I always felt like an outsider, being so liberal, artsy, and introverted in a very conservative school that was heavy on sports, but it is so important to stand firmly in what you believe in, and you will find your voice. To quote Shakespeare (in Hamlet), ‘This above all, to thine own self be true.’"