For the past 35 years Risa has worked consistently as a director, producer, casting director, writer, and teacher. She’s had the great fortune to have collaborated with some of the most talented, passionate, and groundbreaking artists in the world. She’s continued to move successfully from one arena to another – from theatre to film to television and back. With two feature films in her directorial body of work – the cult classic, 200 CIGARETTES, and most recently, THE CON ARTIST, made in Canada, Risa’s also directed in television, including multiple episodes of THE TWILIGHT ZONE for the WB, and several shows for HBO, Lifetime, and Comedy Central.
Risa’s directed dozens of plays in New York (THE ENSEMBLE STUDIO THEATRE, THE SECOND STAGE, MANHATTAN THEATRE CLUB) and in Los Angeles. She calls THE ENSEMBLE STUDIO THEATRE her artistic home, where she’s been a member in NY for over 35 years, producing and directing six years of the flagship festival MARATHON OF ONE-ACT PLAYS. And she founded EST-LA, a thriving Los Angeles theatre company. Some of her favorite director-playwright collaborations have been with Edward Allan Baker, John Shanley, Richard Greenberg, Bill Bozzone, Alan Zweibel, and Neil Cuthbert.
In L.A. Risa founded and produced ACT ONE, a successful two-year festival of one-acts, in conjunction with Showtime Networks. As a founding Artistic Director of EST-LA, Risa worked with HBO, producing and directing a series of acclaimed one-acts for THE ASPEN COMEDY ARTS FESTIVAL. In her long association with HBO, starting in the early 80s as a talent scout for comedians, Risa co-produced two years of THE YOUNG COMEDIANS SHOW for the network. She was also a TV producer with THE CARSEY WERNER COMPANY.
Risa started casting in the New York as an extension of her rich theatre life. From there she and her partner, Billy Hopkins, took their first step into feature film casting with DESPERATELY SEEKING SUSAN. They worked as a team for 11 years. During and after their successful partnership, Risa cast some of the most memorable movies of the past 30 years. Risa’s résumé includes more than 65 feature films, classics such as SOMETHING WILD, THE JOY LUCK CLUB, TRUE ROMANCE, ANGEL HEART, FATAL ATTRACTION, BORN ON THE FOURTH OF JULY, JFK, WALL STREET, TALK RADIO, THE DOORS, SPEED, JACOB’S LADDER, AT CLOSE RANGE, SNEAKERS, HOW TO MAKE AN AMERICAN QUILT, DEAD PRESIDENTS, TWISTER, BENNY AND JOON, and FLIRTING WITH DISASTER.
She’s cast numerous television shows and pilots, including ROSEANNE, CSI:NY, all four seasons of the Showtime series, MASTERS OF SEX, THE AFFAIR and SEAL TEAM. Risa served as a Producer on Oliver Stone’s films HEAVEN AND EARTH and NATURAL BORN KILLERS, movies she also cast.
Risa’s passion for teaching and coaching has lead to her collaboration with Steve Braun in The BGB Studio, a space they created as an artistic home for actors, writers, directors, filmmakers, and casting directors. Here she gets to do it all!
Taking class with Risa is not an audition or employment opportunity and there is no suggestion or guarantee of an audition or employment as a result of taking her any of her classes.