It started in Chicago, where Debra wrote and sang original musicals for her stuffed animals when she was very young. She began an illustrious theatrical career starring as Toto in a summer camp production of Wizard of Oz. Barely surviving head-to-toe fur in sweltering July heat, she already knew how to suffer for her art.
Debra studied acting at the nationally-acclaimed Piven Theatre Workshop with such talents as John Cusack, Joan Cusack, and Jeremy Piven. Her vocal training began at the Northwestern University vocal department while still attending high school. She declined an opera scholarship to Oberlin Conservatory in order to study musical theatre at University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM.)
She took a quarter off to work for a few months in live theatre. Fifteen productions later, she returned to school and graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University and received a Masters of Fine Arts in musical theatre from San Diego State University, where she graduated Phi Kappa Phi as a Marion Ross Scholar.
Debra has performed in regional theatres and cabaret clubs across the country, most frequently in Los Angeles, San Diego, Boston, and South Florida. In Professionally Speaking at the Off-Broadway, The Miami Herald hailed her “a comic sparkplug.” Her role in Triumph of Love won a KPBS-TV Patté award. Her one-woman show My Nights With George, Kurt & Cole, (co-written and directed by comic genius, Phil Johnson) was featured at various venues throughout Southern California and won Best New Play and Best Actress at the 2003 San Diego Actors Festival, and the San Diego Playbill Billie Award for Best Actress in a musical. In 2019, Debra won a San Diego Theatre Critics Circle Award (Craig Noel) for Angels in America: Parts 1 & 2.
She appears regularly in San Diego regional theatre, including: Angles in America, Handbagged, God of Vengeance at the La Jolla Playhouse, Hairspray, Footloose, Sound of Music, La Cage Aux Folles, Billy Elliot and White Christmas at San Diego Musical Theatre. Spring Awakening, My Fair Lady, On the 20th Century and Dogfight at Cygnet; Hamlet (Gertrude) at Intrepid; Titanic & Sunset Blvd. at Moonlight Amphitheatre; Permanent Collection at Mo’olelo; Full Monty (Vicki) at New Village Arts; Anything Goes! (Reno) Oliver! (Nancy) and Babes in Arms at Lyric Opera San Diego; Carousel and Sound of Music at Lawrence Welk; My Nights With George, Kurt & Cole (NCRT & 6th@Penn, AASD & Billie Awards); Debra studied at Tufts & CCM and holds a M.F.A. from SDSU. Her CD, Driving My Own Heart is available on Amazon & iTunes.
She took hiatus from performing to explore the “other side of the table.” As a talent manager and at Creative Artists Agency, under world-famous super-agent Michael Ovitz, she helped to guide the careers of such actors as Donald Sutherland, Patrick Dempsey, Halle Berry, Alyssa Milano, and Antonio Banderas. Having been yelled at by some of the most powerful players in Hollywood, she decided that performing was just as difficult, but a lot more fun.
Debra is a Certified Bulletproof Human Potential Coach, studying in a year-long program with the Bulletproof Certified Coach Training Program with Dave Asprey & Dr. Mark Atkinson. As a coach, Debra specializes in helping actors & creative types find a healthy lifestyle balance while maintaining an exciting, satisfying creative career (it can be done!)
She co-hosted The Upgraded Woman Podcast with Lane Kennedy found on iTunes and UpgradedWoman.com. Debra travels the country speaking and working with young actors to learn healthy habits to set them on a course for a long, healthy career as as Resilient Actor!
Her diverse career has also included work as an award-winning actor, director, producer, professor, best-selling author, disc jockey, law intern, arranger, choir director, radio producer, announcer, teacher, coach, housewife, last but exhaustively not least, mom. She plays the guitar, harp, and piano and spends any free-time (ha!) dabbling in cooking, aromatherapy, yoga, interior decorating, and chocolate. She lives in San Diego with her three children & Bernedoodle.
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