Erin Muroski, Actress, on Acting & Writing, Duchess Riot, & Latest Role on "In-Lawfully Yours."
February 25, 2016
Photo by Dana Patrick
I’m originally from Red Bank, NJ but really grew up in Orlando, FL. Since college in Florida, I have lived in New York City, Singapore and have settled in LA for the past five years.
First Job in the Entertainment Industry
My first paid entertainment job was right out of college when I did a children’s musical Opal at the Orlando Rep for schools and the public on weekends.
It was really special because I grew up taking classes in that theatre, then doing summer stock and finally teaching classes and choreographing the musicals for the high school and middle school students on my summers off during college.
Everything inspires me creatively!
It’s always amazing to me how inspiration strikes in sometimes the most mundane of activities or just a random interaction.
I am constantly jotting sketch, scene, pilot or feature ideas down in the notes on my phone.
I was first attracted to acting as a child because my mother would bring my brother and I to theatre in the area.
I loved the art of story-telling from day one.
Sharing a story that makes you discover something about yourself gets me excited.
But if I’m going to be completely honest, more than anything, I like making people laugh.
It’s what drives and inspires me as an actress and writer.
What better feeling is there than laughing?
Being able to laugh at ourselves, at life, at things that scare us … that’s what unites us.
Experience with Writing
I’ve written throughout my entire life, thanks to a very inspiring teacher, Mrs. Buckman, in 4th grade at Bear Lake Elementary School.
We would write books that she would bind,and I still have all of them.
From there, I just couldn’t stop writing: novels, plays, monologues, jokes, short stories, blogs, you name it. But I never tried to pursue it professionally until about 3 years ago.
Photo by Suzanne Cotsakos
I write independently on many projects, including dozens of video sketches for my comedy group Duchess Riot.
I also write with my writing partner (and husband Mark Agee) punching up feature scripts and creating original pilots and features.
I grew up doing theatre and continued through high school, college and beyond.
Some of my favorite roles have been “Stella” in A Streetcar Named Desire, “Ariel” in The Tempest, and “Mary Tilford” in The Children’s Hour.
After college, I performed in musicals at Mark Two Dinner Theatre and children’s theatre at the Orlando Rep.
Theatre is the best.
It’s amazing to have the immediate reaction of the audience. Every show, every audience is different, so although you might do a two month run of the same show, it’s always full of surprises.
That’s what I love about theatre.
It’s always fun to see how the show has changed from opening night to closing night.
Daily Steps Toward Your Long-Term Goals
I am the queen of to-do lists.
If I don’t make a list, my day is too free form and flies by before I realize it.
I make a list for each day of the week so that I can evenly spread out the things I want to accomplish.
They are on a clipboard that sits on my desk and nothing satisfies me more than getting to mark off tasks on that list until they are gone!
If you are pursuing acting and/or writing, it’s really important to hold yourself accountable because no one is there to do it for you.
Your success in this career is up to you and your discipline.
I am one of the eight ladies in Duchess Riot and we’ve been together almost 5 years now!
We have a residency improv show at ACME Noho on the first Friday of the month.
Photo by Suzanne Cotsakos
We’ve all had our hand in pretty much every aspect of our group in some way, but the areas I am most proud of my involvement are our video sketches (I’ve written many of them, and produced/edited/shot dozens of them with Suzanne Cotsakos as well).
I’m also very proud of having spear-headed our Relay for Life team for three years, because those are some of my favorite memories of us as a team while we also raised over$15,000 for cancer research and treatment.
I feel honored to be in a group of seven other women that I admire and respect so much.
My favorite time on set for a TV show was on Burning Love.
I was in improv class at UCB with the amazingly talented writer Erica Oyama and we immediately bonded over our shared love of the Bachelor series.
She asked if I’d be interested in doing the sizzle reel for a show she was trying to sell that was a Bachelor spoof.
That was an easy, “Heck yeah!”
When it went to series on Yahoo, Erica was awesome enough to offer me a role and I had a blast.
We got to improvise a bit on set and if you’ve seen the series, you know it showcases some of the funniest people in the business, so needless to say, it was a blast.
My good friend from college Deanna Russo (talented actress extraordinaire) was also in the cast, so it couldn’t have been a better experience.
About a year and a half ago, my friend Rhett Reesegave me some advice that has really helped me and I’d love to pass it along.
I had gone through an especially rough rejection with a script and was feeling really low and discouraged (a feeling you will become all too familiar with in this business from time to time!)
He said, “Be the T- 1000. Let the bullets fly through you, get blown to bits, but then heal yourself, regenerate and go back out therewith just as much tenacity, as if you were never hurt.”
I love the Terminator series (and analogies) so this was the perfect thing to hear!
When I feel like I want to throw in the towel, hide in bed and give up, I think, “Be the T- 1000.”
In What Ways Do You Challenge Yourself As An Artist?
I challenge myself by never giving myself limitations.
For instance, I taught myself how to shoot and edit, having never taken any kind of class in film-making because there were sketches and highlight reels I wanted to make and didn’t have the money or contacts to get it made.
I’m a firm believer that you can make things happen on your own.
Having friends who are already good at these things and will let you stand over their shoulder or ask a million questions doesn’t hurt either!
There’s always a way.
Experience in Film
Most recently, I got to play a really fun role, “Daphne,” in the soon to be released "In-Lawfully Yours".
Not only did I get to do a hilarious scene where I bully my real life best friend Chelsey Crisp, but we got to shoot on location in Virginia and the entire cast and crew were some of the nicest, most talented people I’ve ever gotten to work with.
I can’t wait for the first cast/crew screening so I can see everyone again!
Photo by Dana Patrick
I was also inspired to watch Chelsey play the leading role because I know how long she has struggled and is finally getting the kinds of roles and work she deserves!
She’s a great example of someone who got where they are because of her work ethic and talent.
I think we are our own biggest challenge in this industry.
You have to always go back to being at peace with yourself.
You will get constant criticism and rejection in every level of the industry, but the actual danger is when you let any of that effect how you see yourself.
It’s not always easy, but I try to keep my negative self-talk to a minimum and go back to the work.
How Do You Prepare For A Role?
To prepare for a role I read the script a few times, just for the fun of taking in the entire story.
Then, I go in and pay closer attention to what OTHER characters say about me and what my thoughts are next to the dialogue as the character in the margins.
I also research anything I’m not familiar with like the location, time period, dialect, etc.
I like to know exactly what my thoughts and feelings are in the intended sequential order so that once I get a shoot schedule, I’m able to take it apart and know where I’m going.
It’s pretty rare to get the luxury of shooting your scenes in order, so you want to make sure you know where you are!
Favorite Memories In The Entertainment Industry
5. Getting my first paid writing gig.
4. Producing/shooting/editing sketches for Duchess Riot with my friend Suzanne Cotsakos.
3. Performing on the Comedy Central Stage with Duchess Riot.
2. Acting alongside my best friend Chelsey in In-Lawfully Yours.
1. Meeting my husband Mark Agee in a screenwriting class and going on to become writing partners.
The Dangers of Setting Time Limits
Don’t give yourself a time limit.
I am from Orlando and I have heard many friends say, “I’m going to go out to LA (or NY) and give it 6 months!”
Setting a date that you have to succeed by is a huge pitfall in this industry.
Decide that you are going to make it and just keep working till you do or until your desire or perspective changes.
Don’t start a clock.
What Are Some Business Aspects Of Acting That You've Had To Become Good At To Become Successful?
Pitch meetings, general meetings, etc. I’m not a big fan of them because I get nervous.
I can be sarcastic and awkward, so I worry that things I say will come out wrong or the other person just won’t get my vibe.
Improv really helped me with my “meeting” skills and makes me feel more at ease.
Now I feel confident and comfortable in my own skin in high pressure meetings (for the most part).
I have taken acting classes and been involved in theatre since I was 11 years old.
I was a theatre major at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL. In my time in New York City, I trained with Larry Singer, whom I highly recommend.
And in LA, I’ve had tons of amazing teachers, forgive me if I leave anyone out: Stan Kirsch at Stan Kirsch Studios, Jamie Smith, UCB and their teachers, ACME theatre, Kimberly Lewis, Joseph Limbaugh, Donovan Scott, Chris Webb, Cynthia Greenburg, Lesly Kahn, and the best commercial technique teacher that ever was, Carolyne Barry.