Tony-Nominated Actor Maria Dizzia on Choosing Karens Unanimous for Her Directorial Debut

Caught on Camera   Tony-Nominated Actor Maria Dizzia on Choosing Karens Unanimous for Her Directorial Debut
She and writer Olli Haaskivi call the new film The Muppets Take Manhattan without the Muppets.

“A good ol’ crazy caper” is how Maria Dizzia explains her upcoming feature film Karens Unanimous. An actor by trade, Dizzia most recently appeared Off-Broadway in Roundabout Theatre Company’s production of If I Forget by Tony winner Steven Levenson (Dear Evan Hansen).

Nominated for a Tony Award for her performance in Sarah Ruhl’s In The Next Room in 2010, she later earned a Drama Desk nomination for her work in Belleville in 2013. But now the star of stage and screen is turning the tables to make her directorial debut with Karens Unanimous. Written by Olli Haaskivi and Joseph Medeiros, the plot follows two storylines: one about a young woman who has never followed the impulse to find out who her father was, and one about the wildness of the cult run by her father.

“Olli's description of it—which I really like—is like The Muppets Take Manhattan without any of the Muppets,” Dizzia tells Playbill in the video exclusive above.

And, she’s thrilled to finally step behind the camera with the project. “When you’re reading through a script for the first time, you do move through it emotionally, but one of the first things that comes to you are images and those snapshots of the character’s life,” she says. “What’s been so fun is that as an actor, that’s usually your secret and things that you’re keeping inside in order to motivate what you’re doing. What’s so exciting about this is that I get to share them with other people.”

Ultimately, Dizzia wants to inspire hope in her audiences and within the team making the film. “It makes me feel like we can do things that are really ambitious,” she says. “I think that coming from a background in theatre, people are used to that environment of trying to do things really hard in a short amount of time and trusting everyone who’s with you. I think I really want to take advantage of that mindset.”

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