Pearl Hodiwala has been living in New York for almost four years, having moved from Sydney to get her Master in Arts Administration from Columbia University. With a background in theatre administration, she knew she would have to move to the theatre mecca of the world eventually, but once she landed on Broadway she went from being a big fish in a small pond, to being plankton in the ocean.
On the eve of her new play KINGS debuting as part of the Women’s Project Theatre 2016 Pipeline Festival, we speak to Pearl about her experiences in New York, and how she is making her mark on Broadway (and she gives us a great discount code to check out KINGS!)
Tell us about this dream career of yours in theatre:
For my day job I work at Disney Theatrical Group. I started off in Strategy and Business Development, but recently I have moved into Theatrical Licensing. In my spare time I produce shows independently. I am the managing director of a new and innovative theater collective called Kaimera Productions. Recently, we just premiered our debut show, Jupiter. Additionally, for the last two years I have been working with a fantastic organization called the Women’s Project Theater as a producer as well. The Pipeline Festival is the culminating project of my 2-year residency, and I have had the chance to work with 15 fantastic female artists. In its inaugural year the 2016 Pipeline Festival provides a unique opportunity for audiences and industry personnel to access five new plays at various stages of development. These range from staged readings to full-length workshop productions. I have been working with Sarah Burgess and Adrienne Campbell-Holt on our show KINGS which will debut at the festival on April 7th. Check out our behind-the-scenes video here.
So how did you get into Disney?
I had a really interesting trajectory. One of my classes at Columbia was taught by the president of Disney Theatrical Group. During one the classes, a member of my cohort asked about internships. I decided to apply, and was accepted. I have since found out that it is harder to get an internship at Disney than it is to get into Harvard. Once I was working for the company I tried to made myself indispensable, and when a position opened up I applied and was lucky enough to get the job.
As a professional working in NYC what are the differences to working in Australia?
The first and major difference I noticed is how many meetings Americans have. I have had meetings to prep for the prep meeting before the actual meeting. I think the reasons Americans love working with Australians is that we get the job done.
Where do you live and why did you choose that neighborhood?
I live near Columbus Circle. When I moved to NYC, I knew I wanted to live in Manhattan, and I did not want to waste any part of the day commuting. My first place in the city was on the Upper West Side (UWS) right behind the Natural History Museum. At the time it was easy to get to and from the Columbia University campus. But, eventually I grew restless in what I call the ‘suburbs of Manhattan’ and felt I needed to be closer to the action. Columbus Circle is the perfect mix for me as it is close enough to the theaters of Times Square so I can walk home after a show yet far enough away that I don’t get bothered by tourists.
Tell us some things you like and dislike about living in NYC?
I like that everything I could ever need is within walking distance, but I dislike the sheer amount of tourists.
Have an ‘only in New York’ moment you could share with us?
Honestly, everyday for me is a ‘only in New York’ moment. I have had the pleasure to work with world renowned artists and theater makers, and it is all a part of the whole NY theater occupation. Only in New York would I be able to work on Broadway shows, Shakespeare in the Park, and downtown shows.
What was your biggest win this week?
No line at my coffee shop!
What’s the biggest challenge or road block you’ve been faced with since being in NYC and how did you overcome it?
There are lots of challenges, I totally believe Frank Sinatra was right, if you can make it here then you can make it anywhere. The biggest one so far is navigating the NYC real estate market as it is unlike any other in the world. I have lived in Paris and I thought that was complicated. My husband and I are lucky enough to own our apartment in NYC, but going through the process of dealing with a broker and getting a mortgage should not be that exhausting.
Favorite NYC brunch spot-
I have a few but the top two are:
- NORMA’s at Le Parker Meridien. Their OJ and Crunchy French Toast are amazing, but make a reservation.
- Calle Ocho on 81st & Columbus. If you are a fan of bottomless brunch this place does not disappoint. Just don’t have any afternoon plans. They are hard to keep after 8 glasses of sangria.
Favorite spot for a drink-
Gingerman on 35th street is great and a close walk from Penn station. But, I work in Times Square so my happy hour place is URBO’s upstairs bar.
What do you like about being part of AWNY?
There are a lot of Aussie in New York groups that support expats, but AWNY (Australian Women in New York) is dedicated to Australian Women in NY and the unique challenges we face. AWNY provides support and resources that give us the platform to succeed in NYC.
What things do you do to keep home sickness under control?
I try and connect with Australian things as much as I can. I also make sure that I keep my Australian-ism, even when it gets looks of confusion
What are your favorite ways to connect with Aussie culture in NYC?
One of my favorite ways to connect is a social netball group (NYC Netball), it is always great to get together with a bunch of Aussie ladies and throw around a netball.
Pearl’s next show KINGS will debut at the Women’s Project Theatre Pipeline Festival on April 7th. KINGS only has four performances, so act fast!
Playwright Sarah Burgess | Director Adrienne Campbell-Holt
Starring: Quincy Tyler Bernstine, Jess Love, Larry Pine, Charles Socarides
April 7-9, 2016
Use Code WPLABFF for $15.00 tickets
Get tickets here / Read more here