Multi-media Artist & Producer, Sunflower Duran, founder of stage and film production company, Pink Arts Peace Productions, Inc. and a member of Chasing Mermaids, a Spotify-trending Hip-Hop group, is preparing to be one of the first indie theatre productions to open when the quarantine is relaxed in NYC. She is still hopeful that her September 24 opening will be a reality.
Duran will be producing a revival of John Patrick Shanley’s play, WOMEN OF MANHATTAN at NY’s landmark, American Theatre of Actors, WoM concerns three friends, Billie, Judy, and Rhonda, who have found success in their lives, but — as they sit over a casual dinner — they begin to come to harsh realization that they may not be as successful as they outwardly appear.
Bronx-born Duran, an NYU Steinhardt grad, will direct and star as Billie.
Duran, an advocate of diversity within her company, formed a diverse, energetic, and talent company.
David Jung is a writer who is taking this opportunity to expand into different areas of the arts industry; Nicole Miranda is a dedicated actress who utilizes her life to create her characters. She finds this allows her to create different versions of myself, “through the art of acting, I feel I can share my true self through another person’s story because it becomes my own,” she says. Kingsley Nwaogu is another writer/actor. The NYU Tisch School grad adds dancer to his credentials as well; and Antonette Hudak exuberantly chimed-in with“I began my journey as a theater actress studying method acting. My first play I wrote, directed, produced and acted in was called “How to Love A Drug Addict” and the audience loved it where we were able to bring to different theaters and raised money to make a short film. Since then I’ve been acting, directing, producing and writing.”
We spoke to Jung, Nwaogu, and Miranda about the play and playing.
Who do you play and how’s it going?
David Jung: I play the role of “Bob”, Billie’s husband who’s going through a period of self-awareness and “soul searching”. The character is a relatable character in the sense that we all And it has been going as well as it can at the moment. We are making rehearsals work through Zoom as best as we can, and meeting on a weekly basis.
Kingsley Nwaogu: I play Duke in Women of Manhattan. Working on this character has been a real treat for me as he’s quite complicated in terms of what he’s looking for when it comes to building a relationship with members of the opposite sex. The biggest difference between this show and others that I’ve been a part of has been during the rehearsal process due to quarantining protocols and precautions. The rehearsal process has usually been my most cherished part of stage acting so transitioning to rehearsing through zoom has taken lots of adjustments on my part to get accustomed to.
Nicole Miranda: I play Rhonda Louise a southern bell with “sass & class.” We have been meeting via zoom to rehearse our roles in which every time we practice together, we get better at becoming our individual characters which is making this come to life. I enjoy working with my fellow cast members. They make it easy to get right into character. I’m very excited for us to bring this to life.
Antonette Hudak: I play Judy. She is a Connecticut Yankee who has had trouble in her love life for over 10 years in New York City. Judy and her best friends are honest, give each other advice, and help each other, especially advice on their love lives. Even though the way things are said are not so graceful, they all mean well. It’s a lot about feminism, getting what you want, and supporting one another.
How does the play and your character resonate today?
David Jung: The play, aside from a few choice words, still manages to resonate with people today in the sense of finding yourself and being comfortable with yourself. This play may have been written in the 80s, but people today still search for something new to excite their stable and comfortable lives. The characters in this play all are in a comfortable moment in their lives. They don’t have anything real to complain about, but they still want to reach and find something new to excite them.
Nicole Miranda: The play is basically about three woman friends who have different personalities and lives, who are supporting each other to get through the rough patches in their love lives. My character Ms. Rhonda Louise is very much like I am only she’s soft spoken classy but sassy because knows what she wants in life. She’s been through her own experiences when it comes to love, so she finds her independence very important when it comes to relationships. I on the other hand am very loud with a north jersey accent, aggressive, quick to speak my mind, but like Ms. Louise, I too know what I want in life because of my past experiences. I am very independent and believe in morals when it comes to relationships. I feel because we both share the same mindset it is very comfortable for me to play this role. And it also helps me bring a softer side of myself in which I do have deep down inside of me.
Antonette Hudak: It’s the modern world of dating back in the 1980’s before technology. I think it resonates today because it teaches us women to not settle, and have a standard of what to expect from a man.
Kingsley Nwaogu: I think that the play would resonate quite well with theater goers today; especially those living in New York City. The play covers many tropes of dating and relationships that are relevant today such as flirting while in a relationship, cheating to save a relationship, overcoming heartache and so many more.
What obstacles do you face working in the arts (racism, financial, competition, etc.)?
Nicole Miranda: My biggest obstacle would be time. I am also a single mom who works and supports myself and my 12-year-old daughter. I also have other projects I am working on as well such as my podcast, radio, fitness, and more in which due to the corona virus has made it a bit challenging but none the less being able to manage all my priorities, projects and hobbies are what I am grateful for in this opportunity.
Antonette Hudak: Working in the arts is a powerful and magnificent craft to get into. It’s also expensive, tiring, sometimes with little or no return, puts you out of your comfort zone, and is a commitment. The obstacle at this stage of my career is accepting that in the arts, you don’t have control over your career. You can try, audition, and even produce your own projects. You can have great experiences, make awesome relationships, learn something new, and even get into things like film festivals as well as make a profit depending on what you’re working on. It’s a difficult endeavor that has to do with a lot of luck, patience, and rejection. You have to do it for more than money. It’s a calling. It’s a passion and it’s something that you can go into with confidentially saying nothing else would make you happier than pursuing this dream.
Kingsley Nwaogu: Some of the obstacles that I face while working in the arts tends to be finding a work/life balance, between being able to sustain myself living in New York financially while also pursuing my passions.
David Jung: I don’t think the obstacles we face in the arts are any different than those people face regularly. Financial obstacles are pretty common obstacles when it comes to working in the arts. It’s always a concern where budgeting will come from or whether we will even be able to make projects work within a budget. Time commitment is a necessary obstacle. You’ll find yourself sacrificing some opportunities in order to fulfill your goals. Racism is an obstacle that seems to be changing recently. Obviously, with much of the current Black Lives Matter movement still continuing strongly, much of the stereotypical and typecast narratives will be changing much more exponentially in the coming years. Those are only some of the obstacles that may come up.
Antonette Hudak: A film I wrote and directed called “Layla” will be in the Long Island Film Festival on October 3rd. I am producing a wellness event in November called Self Love Revolution that combines, yoga, film and music in Park Slope. I am also producing and acting in a web series called “So Much to Say” as well as producing and acting in a feature film called “Living Together” that are both in a pre-production phase.
David Jung: Well, we continue to meet online and rehearse with the intention of putting on this show. But with the continuously changing news of the pandemic anything can happen. We are hearing about other theaters not opening until early 2021, but The American Theater of Actors intends to open in the coming months.
Nicole Miranda: I would love to continue to evolve in the acting field and eventually produce and direct my own shows, movies, plays etc. to utilize my experiences threw the art of entertainment. Through this process, I also want to help others by my gifts of being a voice. To help those who are afraid or have no support to take a step into facing fears and making their dreams into a reality. I am allowing new doors to open so that I may make this vision come to fruition. The next step is to put myself out there and believe in my creativity.
Kingsley Nwaogu: After this performance it’s right back to auditioning and connecting with other artists!
===========EXTRA: SUNFLOWER DURAN===============
Who do you play and how’s it going?
I play Billie. Billie is a dramatic hopeless romantic that lives vicariously through her friends. In many ways, I am Billie. Billie is in love with passion. Billie is a protagonist through and through and she falls prey to damsel in distress.
How does the play and your character resonate today?
The play resonates today because people always try to live up to their image. We are in a battle between our true selves and what we want to portray to the world.
What obstacle do you face working in the arts
The only obstacle that I see is time. There aren’t enough hours in the day sometimes to do all that I want to do. There’s plenty to do. I’ve been blessed with many opportunity and gifted to be in the position to help others make their dreams come true.
I am producing the feature The Diary of Kate the Ripper next. We are in the fundraising phase and everything is going well so far.