Faces of AWNY: Ali Kennedy Scott

Actor, writer, and theater maker Ali Kennedy Scott talks about life and love in NYC, and her upcoming play, ‘The Day the Sky Turned Black,’ a tribute to the survivors of the Black Saturday bushfires.

What brought you to NYC?

I fell in love with NYC as a child watching Home Alone 2 and Macaulay Culkin run around the Plaza Hotel at Christmas time. The giant pizzas, the enormous toy shops, the huge Christmas trees – it was every childhood dream wrapped in one super-sized, high density package.

A few years ago, I moved to NYC for 6 months on a transfer when I was a management consultant at Bain & Company.  At the end of the 6 months, on route to the airport, I gazed at the Chrysler and knew I’d be back. I couldn’t imagine then that I’d be returning as an actor & writer. It’s been a pretty exciting journey! Essentially, I moved here because the caliber and diversity of artistic endeavor is so great. I have learnt from and collaborated with so many incredible people, from very established companies like Anne Bogart’s SITI Company who have been working together for 23 years, to new companies pushing the boundaries of art and theater. It’s an exciting time to be an actor & theater-maker in NYC.

Where are you from? How long have you been here?

I’m from Sydney and moved here about 2 years ago. Time has flown!

Tell us your favorite NYC brunch spot.

Cookshop in Chelsea (amazing food & bloody marys!), Friend of a Farmer in Gramercy (pancakes and omelets are supreme) & anywhere that serves Chicken & Waffles.

And favorite NYC cocktail spot & cocktail of choice?

Booker & Dax – I order a Manhattan and a side of country ham with red eye gravy – I never knew ham could taste that good.

What was your biggest win this week?

Resisting a slice Joe’s pizza on the way home for 6 days straight… then indulging in a slice of Joe’s pizza on the way home. It is really good pizza.

What’s the biggest challenge or road block you’ve been faced with since being in NYC and how did you overcome it?

My partner and I switched from living together in Sydney to a trans-Atlantic relationship (he moved to Denmark for work). After you get over the initial goodbye and realize that the person is still there, albeit behind a computer or phone screen, it becomes a lot easier. We usually speak a few times a day just as we would if we were still living together. The most important enablers are an unlimited international call plan & unlimited data. I take him on skype tours of NYC; we watch Netflix together and share our lives as much as possible given the giant body of water that currently separates us.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given about living/working in NYC?

If you get the right winter clothing you will be warmer in NYC in winter than in Sydney.

Who are some Aussie ladies doing awesome things in NYC who are currently on your radar?

There are so many… Beck Dunn, a beautiful friend and Emmy nominated visual effects producer for Boardwalk Empire; Clara Pagone, a super talented actress & collaborator; Catherine Gregory, an incredible flautist; Tam Hansson, a beautiful singer & musician; Benita de Wit – a superb director; Theater makers Peta Coy, Tina Thurman, writer Alexandra Collier. I’m constantly inspired by Aussies living over here.

Where do you live? Why did you choose that area?

Gramercy. I love it here. It’s close to the bustle, but you hear birds, see trees & vine covered brownstones, and Union Square farmers market is a cornucopia of seasonal offerings.

What do you like/dislike about living in NY?

I love the seasons- I didn’t realize how incredible spring was until I moved here. Living through winter, and then seeing that first flower bulb peek through the ground brings on almost euphoric excitement across the city. I love the pace. I love how proactive people are, how New Yorkers celebrate success and the willingness of New Yorkers to meet and collaborate.

On the negatives, the city does smell, especially in summer. And I’m disappointed that aviation has not progressed further in my life time, and Australia is STILL 24 hours away. Teleportation, a portkey or similar means of transit to oz would be most appreciated.

What’s your ‘only in New York’ moment/s?

When you’re running for a subway, the doors begin to close and a complete stranger wedges themselves between the doors to keep them open for you. In mid-winter, that random act of kindness warms the cockles of my heart.

What do you do?

I’m an actor & writer so my roles are always changing. I’m currently rehearsing my solo show, The Day the Sky Turned Black, for the United Solo Festival November 10 & 12. The play is a tribute to the survivors of the Black Saturday bushfires. It follows 5 characters from the day before the fires to their return home and the rebuilding of their lives. It’s about the courage and strength of everyday Australians, and about hope.

Black Sky Postcard New York (1)-page-001 (1)

I’m also on the board of SITI Company and a member of classical theater company Magis, and Heart & Farce. That’s one of the things I love about NYC – every day is jam packed!

As a professional working in NYC what are the differences to working in Australia?

The sheer density of the city, the number of opportunities and the pace at which new connections are made. It’s often said that your career is defined as much by the opportunities you decline as those you seize; in NYC this is magnified 10 fold.

What’s your favorite New York spot?

I’m a little in love with Green Point at the moment. It’s a fascinating melding of new & old, great bars and restaurants, and beautiful views of Manhattan.

Anything you miss about Australia?

I miss the gum trees, I miss the beach and of course my beautiful friends and family.

What are your top 3 tips for friends visiting NYC?

Walk out your door and let the day lead you – you never know what you will find in this city.

Brunch here doesn’t mean what you think it means. It’s very often after lunch and typically accompanied by alcohol…. which is probably to make up for the coffee.

You’ll never cram in everything in one visit. This city is like an artichoke, many layers to discover before you reach the heart.

Photo credit: Ali Kennedy Scott