Theater and Dance

Dana Mazzenga Greto

Major(s)

Communications Studies

Minor(s)

Theater, French

Current Position

Actor, Writer, Mother!

Graduate School & Degree

The School of Drama at The New School, MFA Acting

About

After graduating from Ursinus in 2004, I promptly began my journey as a professional actor. I worked for a couple years at Mike Lemon Casting in Philadelphia where I also auditioned regularly and found work doing local commercials and industrials. It wasn’t long before I missed the freedom and joy of the stage, however, and, so, after touching base with my teachers/mentors from Ursinus (Domenick Scudera, Lisa Jo Epstein and Tim Raphael) it seemed like my best next move would be to make my way to New York City. So at 23 years old, I auditioned for the M.F.A. program at The School of Drama at the The New School and after an intense callback - and with the encouragement of my Ursinus teachers (and their generous recommendations), I was accepted into the program. There I had the good fortune to study with Greats like Ron Leibman, Robert Lupone, Arthur Storch, Nova Thomas, among many others. I also found family and friendship in my classmates and we trudged through the program studying technique, movement, dialects and vocal work, enduring late night rehearsals, sleeping on hallway floors and eating microwaved soup for three years. We created plays together both in and outside of the school’s walls. Upon graduation I was filled with enthusiasm to get out and auditioning. It was challenging to say the least, but I found myself a couple agents to work with and managed to book a few great parts both commercially, as well as theatrically. I exercised my acting muscles in a weekly workshop run by Lyle Kessler and continued to book regular off-Broadway roles on various NYC stages such as The Connelly and Abingdon Theatres, and, once, even a crazy Mid-Summer Night’s Dream performance at Webster Hall. I also found myself working on internet and commercial endeavors for the likes of Google, Rubbermaid and Walmart, among others. In 2011, I married to my longtime boyfriend, who moved to NYC with me back in 2006! Shortly thereafter, we decided to start a family. It turned out to be a rocky road to parenthood, however, and I found that I could not emotionally or mentally balance both that and the life of being an actor. And, so, I took a step back from auditioning. When I finally became pregnant with my oldest child, I took my big, growing belly on over to Brette Goldstein Casting. Brette warmly welcomed me to help out on the casting end and for a little while I volunteered my time as a reader and reveled in her work. Once my baby was born, however, I withdrew completely from life as a theatre and film professional and became a full time, stay-at-home mom to - eventually - two beautiful, crazy kids. I never lost my interest in the business but I was very busy raising my children in the incredibly full, colorful (and very expensive) Land of Brooklyn, NY. It wasn’t until the pandemic shut the world down and my old acting class with Lyle Kessler went virtual that I finally found some time to myself to give my old acting chops a try again. My time on Zoom with his workshop class has proven to be the most wonderful inspiration and career catalyst. Fast forward to two years later, I’ve worked with The Actor’s Studio and LAByrinth Theatre Company and, this week alone, I’ve got four self-tape auditions due for on-camera work. I’ve also been honing my skills as a writer of fiction and for the screen and so I regularly juggle several pieces on that end. I feel like I am back and ready as ever, better armed and filled with a whole arsenal of life experience that I didn’t have the first time around.

What’s next?

It’s only recently that I’ve begun auditioning again here in NYC. I’m doing it now as an older, slightly grayed, mom-bod version of myself and it is a totally different experience. Plus the pandemic changed the way some things are done… so I do have a lot yet to learn…connections to establish and re-establish. I’m focusing a lot right now on rebuilding relationships with casting directors. There is, also, still such a long way to go with respect to creating roles for minorities/women/LGBTQ+ but I see things changing in the right direction and I am sticking myself right back into the thick of it all. I want to help create the change I want my kids to experience and show them what just one version of life in the arts can look like… for there is no one-size-fits-all. But we can, surely, all fit. :)

Impact of Ursinus

I came to Ursinus, freshly graduated from Cardinal O’Hara high school in 2000 because I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I didn’t know that you could have a career as a theatre artist without being a famous person. I always loved performing, dancing, singing, writing… but I thought that would just be a hobby. Ursinus barely even had a performing arts program at the time - Theatre had to be a minor! But upon the close of my first year at Ursinus, I was pretty depressed and not enjoying my time in the Biology department. I decided to audition for a play and, there, not only did I find my passion, but I found the path to make it real. Domenick Scudera cast me in The Bald Soprano and Brian Strachan made me an amazing bouncy costume. I learned how to do a Cockney accent and I felt like I had found Heaven on Earth. I was addicted and there was no going back. I believe the year after I graduated from Ursinus, Theatre became an actual major. I was a little jealous, I had to admit! New performing arts center and all! But, forever, my time there has held a very special place in my heart. Like I said, my teachers and, also, my friends gave me the direction I needed when I didn’t even know this life I now live was a possibility. Making a career in the Theatre is not an all or nothing sort of thing - you do need to be committed.. But you don’t need fame to find joy and success as an artist. That’s what I’ve learned along the way - and the basis for that started at Ursinus. Making art, telling stories… those are at least as important as being a doctor! LOL! Seriously though. We are the mirrors to society… we are who everyone turns to when something like.. oh I don’t know… a PANDEMIC?! arrives and - after they get checked out to be ok by their doc - humans need an escape, a place to see themselves and process what they otherwise cannot make room for in their real day to day life. I’m so grateful to have found this path. And I thank my Ursinus family for helping see the light!