We had the good fortune of connecting with Miriam Katz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Miriam, what do you think makes you most happy? Why?
People make me happy. I am forever interested in how people function, what they care about, how they speak, the choices they make, and what they’re striving to do. I’ve stayed connected to many friends from childhood and am also constantly connecting with new people. If I’m feeling down, it’s almost always because I haven’t been spending enough time with others.
A close second answer is dancing. I’m a very bodily person, so while I had to isolate during Covid, being connected to my body in motion was one of the only things that lifted me from my lethargy and loneliness. And, granted, I was usually dancing with thousands of others who were also moving, on Zoom, either in Gaga classes or with Ryan Heffington.
I’m so grateful to be re-entering a world which will actually let me combine people and dance in the glorious realm that is a house party.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Primarily I work as a comedic actor. This has included film, television, voice over, commercials, and live performance. In every case, I am especially drawn to characters that are very different from the way I carry myself day to day. I like to experience life as a different person altogether when I’m acting– to say things I wouldn’t say, often in a voice that is not my everyday voice. I am interested in shapeshifting.
I also do quite a bit of writing– lately mostly pilots. In these stories, I also enter into worlds that are not my own, although I am often exploring an ethos that I stand behind. Generally speaking, this is often related to alternative forms of intimacy: living life in one’s own way and not following a standardized societal template, whether romantically, professionally, or creatively.
I teach comedic acting, improv, and writing to kids, ages 6 to 13. I push the students to create characters that are distinct, and yet, feel real because they come from an authentic place. I also encourage them to do things in their particular way, and to not try to do what is “right” or what I might like. It has felt especially important to help kids hone their comedic voice during the past two years, and I encouraged students to work with and transform the difficulty and pain of this moment in history.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
It’s a bit of a tough time to answer this question, because my favorite restaurants, Mh Zh and Elf, both closed during Covid. And my favorite dance studio, Sweat Spot, and yoga studio, Yogala, shut down as well. I don’t want to be a downer but I have to give big ups to these places for being tried and true for many years up until 2020.
I can walk to Elysian Park, so that’s always a great option. I also love strolling around Echo Park Lake. El Prado is a great bar and my friend Jay Israelson plays piano there every Sunday, which I highly recommend.
When I beach it I tend to go all the way to Santa Barbara. It’s a trip but not actually all that crazy, and I find it to be more transformative than Malibu options. While I’m there I go to the restaurant Mesa Verde, and on my way home I stop by Ojai for sunset.
If I ever want to get a new adorable outfit I always magically find something perfect at the used clothing store Wasteland on Ventura. I also like The Left Bank on Fletcher in Frogtown. While there, I’m also into food at Salazar and music at Zebulon. And speaking of music, seeing bands at the theater at the Ace Hotel is killer.
I go see a lot of comedy shows, so if someone is in town I’ll take them to The Lyric Hyperion theater. There also used to be a great Saturday night show called Good Heroin at Stories Books in Echo Park and we’ll see if it gets revived now that we’re all vax’d. Hot Tub at The Virgil is also always cool. If you want to be hardcore, you can also hit up the Comedy Store. It’s always amazing, just get ready for intensity.
Woah lots of cool things here still, glad I just recalled all that.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My art girl group, Barbara Grossman Breakfast Club! I meet with a group of women once a month to talk about our art dreams. We give each other support, advice, and often, art dares. We’ve met for more than 7 years, and throughout this time we’ve seen projects first discussed as little inklings of an idea get made into exhibitions, animations, publications, and feature films. The group is non-hierarchical, and everyone in it has a regular practice, cares about the work and progress of others, loves to ask questions, and has some kind of a spiritual bent. It’s a stunning group and I am consistently blown away by how smart, thoughtful, and moving people’s responses are, whether to celebrate an achievement or brainstorm about creative crossroads. BGBC has been an essential ingredient in my artistic life.
Meg Shoemaker, Toni Nagy, Mindy Tucker, Fraser Reed, and Shana Lutker.