BCM : How did your life change when you became a mom?
AK: My life changed when I became a mom since I was a working mom and I left my teaching job at PS 6 to try sand start my own business so I could have more flexible hours. I had already opened my Applause teen-age program but now I needed something for the day time so my partner and I wrote our baby program Broadway Babies. This way I could spend time with my son and write and perform with the baby classes. That took off in such a big way so fast that I found myself working all day and staying up with Tyler all night so I could spend time with him. I did the middle of the night feedings, and then would test out all my material on him. But it changed me in the sense of learning how to multi-task and learn how to get work done in the moments he would sleep.
BCM: What has/have been your most memorable moment(s) as a mom?
- I think my most memorable moment with my 14 year old son is laying in bed with him at night still every night before he goes to bed and talking about life. We trade off giving each other back massages every night and talk about our lives, our problems, our wishes, our hopes,
- My most memorable specific night with Tyler was Friday night March 6, when we celebrated the Applause 20th Anniversary Gala. It was the culmination of all my work over 20 years and there was so much love in that one room that people were completely overwhelmed by it. I was able to give a speech to my son thanking him for sacrificing me for thousands of other children over the years without ever complaining. He has always supported me every single second of the day and while people say that it’s the birth of your child that is the best day of your life, it wasn’t. This was, because I got to share it with Tyler. and that was more special than anything. I also made a a speech to my ex-husband, Tyler’s father, who has been one of my biggest supporters from Day 1 and even though he has remarried and has a wonderful wife I got to thank them publiclly for their immense character and their support and love. I think that meant a great deal to Tyler and I know brought a lot of tears to people in the audience but I think it is so important to have a good relationship with your ex regardless of anything except your child.
BCM: What has been the biggest challenge for you in motherhood. Any advice for new moms?
AK: I think the biggest challenge is finding yourself and not just becoming a mother. It is wonderful to be a mother, but that is not all you are. You have likes and dislikes and you should continue to be a person who pursues things that make your life enjoyable. I also think it is easy to get caught up in what everyone else is doing for their child and I think sticking to what your beliefs are is very important. I remember whenever i went with Tyler for a playdate or anything a lot of parents wanted to control exactly what they did. There was nothing spontaneous or boring. I truly believe in letting your child sit a lone and create – not always having an activity or a planned agenda. I spent so many thousands of hours by myself playing down south and my imagination really ran wild. I had to fill the hours with my mind and I believe that when you allow a child to be bored or by themselves, they are truly on the cusp of discovering something extraordinary.
BCM: Congratulations on Applause’s 20 year anniversary! We are so proud of you and the successes that have come out of Applause. What was your inspiration for starting your program 20 years ago?
AK: My inspiration for Applause came from theater camp I went to as a child, Stagedoor Manor. I met a whole new group of people than I had met at Horace Mann and we spent all our time just entertaining one another. When we got home from the summer we would attend winter classes and afterwards we would have huge sleepovers – boys and girls. My friend Jonathan Marc Sherman (who is a major playwright) would go sit in my room and type up a play, while we sang and danced and make up improvs all night long. Sometimes Jonathan would come out and we would read his plays out loud and I had just never been part of anything so special in my life. When the artistic director Jack Romano passed away we asked for Stagedoor’s blessing to open a program called Applause in NY running the the same sort of program but adding things we thought were missing. they gave their blessing in 1994 and by 1995 we opened our doors to our first class which was 19 of my students from PS 6.
BCM: What is your favorite Applause memory from the past 20 years?
AK: I think it’s hard to pick a favorite memory. There are so many . But maybe the day i gave birth to Tyler and all my students were in the waiting room waiting for him to be delivered and all of them came in and help him minutes after he was born!
BCM: How are you planning to celebrate?
AK: WE celebrated with a huge gala, of over 300 people. I had staff of musical theater, film and hip-hop, from years 1995-2015, attend and perform, I had famous alumni from my beginning class in 1995 all come back together and perform, and I had my current class of 15-18 years olds perform so you could see how the program has evolved. At the end I brought out all the musical directors from over 20 years and choreographers from 20 years and all the groups previously mentioned and performed Seasons of Love. I don’t think their was a dry eye on stage of in the audience.
BCM: How do you manage your work/life balance?
AK: I don’t manage it easily. I try and leave work by 6:30 every night but on show weekends and show nights I must be at all of them overseeing them and seeing how my students are developing. That take s a lot of time. Also social media has added a tremendous amount of time to my schedule that didn’t used to seem to make a difference but now my sone tells me to get off my phone or shut it off so that he can have my full attention. And he is right. But it is hard to stay ahead business wise and not be on top of everything all the time, or you won’t stay at the top. I try and hire amazing staff members who I trust and are very loyal and take good care of them.
BCM: What are your favorite activities to do with your son?
AK: My favorite activity is watching him play baseball. He is a huge baseball player and while I am not a sports person, I derive great pleasure from watching his dedication and commitment to something that he loves. I like seeing him be as passionate about something as I am and so there is tremendous pride in watching those qualities and that passion come through him.
BCM: What was your favorite family vacation?
AK: Our favorite family vacation is in Mexico at the Hotel Nizuc. We have been back several times and it’s very tranquil, exquisite and we just meet great people and have a fantastic time every time we go!
In education is Carmen Farina, who was my mentor and principal. She taught me about running a school and more lessons than I can begin to tell you. She is now the Chancellor of Education for NYC.
My biggest influence as a person is my sister, Sheryl Anania. She was a D.A. in Brooklyn and Nassau County for 30 years. She has been through everything with me. She is the person I most want to be like and make proud.
MY FAVORITE NYC RESTAURANT IS… Sushi of Gari and sitting at the Sushi Bar for the chef’s special