DIRECTOR, PRODUCER, CASTING DIRECTOR, INSTRUCTOR/COACH
Risa recently completed directing a feature film in Canada, currently entitled THE CON ARTIST (aka THE LOVE CHILD) starring Donald Sutherland, Rossif Sutherland, Rebecca Romijn, Sarah Roemer, Russell Peters and a host of great Canadian actors. She is working on a screenplay entitled Three Leged Bar Stool (working title), a culture clash comedy set in Newfoundland, where she will also direct the film.
Risa directed the feature film entitled 200 CIGARETTES for PARAMOUNT PICTURES, LAKESHORE ENTERTAINMENT, MTV FILMS and Mike Newell’s company DOGSTAR. The movie stars Ben Affleck, Kate Hudson, Dave Chappelle, Courtney Love, Paul Rudd, Casey Affleck, Christina Ricci, Janeane Garofalo, Martha Plimpton, Guillermo Diaz and Jay Mohr.
Risa directed multiple episodes of The Twilight Zone for New Line Television and UPN. She also directed the season’s wrap-arounds for the show, starring Forest Whitaker.
Risa directed for Home Box Office: Life Stories: A Deadly Secret as part of the successful limited series, and was nominated for an ACE Award. Other television directing credits include: The Hidden Room: The Rogue in The Bathroom for Lifetime Television and Between Cars for Comedy Central based on the play by Alan Zweibel which Risa directed as well in the Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon of One-Act Plays.
Risa founded and produced two seasons of ACT ONE in association with Showtime Networks, a Festival of one-act plays, which was a huge success in Los Angeles. She directed four plays in the Festival: Affections of an Alleycat and Call It Clover by Wil Calhoun, Edward Allan Baker’s A Dead Man’s Apartment and Dice and Cards by Sam Henry Cass. Coming off of directing a new Richard Greenberg play, Jenny Keeps Talking, at the Manhattan Theatre Club in New York, Risa directed a new Jon Robin Baitz play as part of Naked Angels’ first Naked At The Coast in L.A.
Risa was one of the founding Artistic Directors of Ensemble Studio Theatre’s L.A. PROJECT, now EST LA, through which she worked with HBO for two seasons, producing and directing a series of acclaimed one-act plays for The Aspen Comedy Arts Festival.
Risa produced six years of the Ensemble Studio Theatre Marathon of One-Act Plays in New York – where she has been a member since 1980 - working with such writers as David Mamet, Horton Foote, Chris Durang, Wendy Wasserstein, Shel Silverstein, Herb Gardner, Landford Wilson and John Patrick Shanley. She directed 12 plays in the Marathon including the original productions of Face Divided, Dolores and North of Providence by Edward Allan Baker, Saxophone Music by Bill Bozzone, and Comic Dialogue and Between Cars by Alan Zweibel. Other mainstage productions include Bill Bozzone’s House Arrest and Rose Cottages, Sam Shepard’s Geography of a Horse Dreamer, and Bill O’Neill’s Gray Spades. At The Second Stage in New York Risa directed the revival of Division Street by the late Steve Tesich and Jersey City by Wendy Hammond.
Risa was a producer on the NBC television show, Grand, for the Carsey Werner Company and on The Hidden Room for Lifetime Television. As a theatre producer, along with The Marathon, she produced Strange Behavior, a long running comedy by Neil Cuthbert and the award winning New York play, Prairie Avenue by Edward Allan Baker.
Some of the actors Risa has also directed include Joan Allen, Kevin Spacey, Stanley Tucci, Frances McDormand, Mercedes Ruehl, Arliss Howard, Sam Rockwell, Adam Goldberg, Kimberly Elise, Brittany Murphy, and Bill Murray.
Risa has cast over 65 movies including Desperately Seeking Susan, Wall Street, Something Wild, Angel Heart, Fatal Attraction, Born on the Fourth of July, Talk Radio, JFK, Sneakers, The Joy Luck Club, True Romance, Speed, How To Make An American Quilt, Dead Presidents, Twister, and Flirting With Disaster and numerous television shows, including Roseanne, CSI:NY, and the recent Universal/NBC pilot, The Cape, which was picked up for 2011.
Risa was a Producer on Oliver Stone’s films Heaven and Earth and Natural Born Killers, movies she also cast.
Risa’s developed a passion for teaching. She holds Master Classes in acting and auditioning. Her workshops in LA fill up instantly and she’s recently taken the work on the road – NYC, Chicago, Sydney, Toronto, Cleveland, and St. John’s, Newfoundland -- for starters. She coaches actors on an individual basis as well.
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