I came to Los  Angeles with my family when I was five years old. We were refugees, and although I knew the word (in Russian) I did not know what it meant.

It was only when I began work-shopping The New Colossus, a play directed by Tim Robbins at The Actors Gang theater company, and researching my part that I really found out about what was happening in Russia after the Soviet Union collapsed. Each actor wrote their own role for the play, based on a relative or ancestor that came to America as a refugee.

I studied theater at UC Santa Cruz before moving back to LA. I worked with the Actors Gang in Culver City for six years before we started working on The New Colossus. Never in a million years could I have predicted that I would be touring the U.S.A performing in a play where I speak Russian and tell my mother’s refugee story. I never even considered that it was a story worth telling.

I don’t speak English with an accent, and most people would never think I was a refugee. I tell the story because it is true. Because in this time when politics divide the nation, almost everyone in the audience has an ancestor or family member who fled their country and came here for something better. That will always unite us.

My film work includes being a lead on the new media pilot that I co-wrote called Y2K Babes, starring in Lonely in the Dusk, a short film that screened at Dances with Films and the Newport Beach Film Festival. I was a series regular on the award winning science fiction web series called Lifelike that I wrote and produced. Most recently, I appeared on Netflix’s series Hollywood, I am the Night limited series produced by Patty Jenkins, and the CW’s Jane the Virgin. I’ve modeled for brands like Calpak, YSTR, and Michelle Herbert.