To help spread the feeling of pride and resiliency that New Yorkers possess, we wanted to know the answer to one question "Why do you love New York?” From videos, poetry and letters from the likes of Harry Belafonte and Katie Couric, people have answered the call and sent us their Love Letters to NYC.
Catherine Cohen is a comedian and actress based in NYC. She hosts a weekly cabaret show at Alan Cumming’s East Village venue, CLUB CUMMING, and co-hosts the popular weekly podcast, SEEK TREATMENT. Catherine can been seen in the most recent season of HBO’s HIGH MAINTENANCE, as well as the final season of BROAD CITY. Later this year she will appear opposite Kumail Nanjiani and Issa Rae in Michael Showalter’s feature for Paramount, LOVEBIRDS. She was recently featured in FOX’S NIGHT OF COMEDY 2018. Her writing has been featured on Splitsider, The New Yorker, The Huffington Post and New York Mag's The Cut. TimeOut named her one of Five NYC comedians to look out for in 2018. Catherine graduated from Princeton University with a degree in English and Theater.
Jerry G. Zucker is an American film producer, director, and writer known for his role in directing comedy spoof films such as Airplane! and Top Secret!, and the Best Picture-nominated supernatural drama film Ghost. He is the creator of The Naked Gun franchise. His films are ranked among the greatest comedies of all time: Airplane! was ranked at the top of Entertainment Weekly's list of best comedy films.
Mario Cantone is an American comedian, writer, actor, and singer with numerous appearances on Comedy Central including Chappelle's Show. He also played Anthony Marentino on Sex and the City. Broadway credits include, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Tempest, An Evening With Mario Cantone, Assassins and more. Jerry Dixon is an American actor, director, lyricist, choreographer, and composer best known for his work on the Broadway stage, including Once on This Island, Five Guys Named Moe, If/Then, and more.
Jenn Colella is a comedian, actress, and singer. She had her Broadway debut with a 2003 performance as Sissy in Urban Cowboy, which earned her a 2003 Outer Critic's Circle Award nomination. Colella went on to star in High Fidelity and Chaplin. Her Off-Broadway credits include Closer Than Ever, Slut! the Musical and Side Show. In 2014, she returned to Broadway in Tom Kitt and Brian Yorkey's If/Then directed by Michael Greif. She originated the role of Captain Beverley Bass in Come from Away on Broadway in March 2017 and earned the 2017 Outer Critic's Circle Award for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Musical. She also won a Drama Desk Award and Outer Critic's Circle award for the role.
Harry Belafonte is an iconic singer, actor and activist. He was a close friend and confidant of Martin Luther King and throughout his long, stellar career, he has been an advocate for political and humanitarian causes. His breakthrough album Calypso (1956),featuring the well known Banana Boat Song (Day-O), became the first LP in the world to sell over 1 million copies within a year. He is the winner of many awards, among them, An Oscar; The Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award; The Kennedy Center Honors; The National Medal of Honor; Tony Award; Emmy Award.
Pianist/composer Elio Villafranca is the latest in a decades-long line of Cuban musicians who has integrated African, European and Pan-American musical concepts. Born in the Pinar del Río province of Cuba, Elio was classically trained in percussion and composition at the Instituto Superior de Arte in Havana, Cuba. Since his arrival in the U.S. in mid 1995, Elio Villafranca is at the forefront of the latest generation of remarkable pianists, composers and bandleaders. He is a renowned Steinway Artist, Grammy Nominee, and 2014 Jalc Millennium Swing Award Recipient. Elio performed at the NYCNext Inaugural event in September 2020, leading a jazz quartet.
Thomas Kitt is an American composer, conductor, orchestrator, and musician. For his score for the musical Next to Normal, he shared the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Drama with Brian Yorkey and has also won two Tony awards and one Drama Desk Award. Tom directed "A Moment for Broadway" for NYCNext. The gathering in Times Square on October 7th was a coming together for Broadway for the first time since it was shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic back in March.
Bandits on the Run was born out of a chance encounter in the subways, when cellist Sydney Torin Shepherd encountered guitarist Adrian Blake Enscoe busking on an L-train platform. The group came together in earnest when Shepherd’s longtime music collaborator Regina Strayhorn moved to NYC and Enscoe invited the two down to the subways to try their collective hand at busking. In 2017 the Bandits released their debut album, THE CRIMINAL RECORD. Their song “We Battle Giants” was chosen by Kevin Cole of KEXP and Bob Boilen of NPR Music as a Tiny Desk Contest Top Shelf Selection. They’ve released the companion short film to “Love in the Underground”. And they just completed a socially-distanced journey out west to Bear Creek Studios to record several new songs with producer Ryan Hadlock. Their first single from this batch of tunes, “Now Is The Time” was recently released on all platforms.
Singer-Songwriter Peter Cincotti holds the record of being Billboard’s youngest jazz chart topper. Peter has performed in some of the world’s most prestigious venues from Carnegie Hall to L’Olympia in Paris, collaborated with artists ranging from Andrea Bocelli to David Guetta, has been featured in blockbuster films such as Spiderman 2, represented the global fashion brands Ermenegildo Zegna and Tod’s, and just recently appeared as himself in Season 3 of the hit Netflix series House Of Cards, singing a duet with the president played by Kevin Spacey. Peter’s new song, Heart of the City, is a tribute to his hometown New York.
Michael McElroy is the Founder/Musical Director and Arranger for Broadway Inspirational Voices (BIV) a multi-racial gospel choir comprised of Broadway performers. As an arranger, in 2005 Michael was nominated for a Grammy award for his work on the Broadway Inspirational Voices holiday cd Great Joy! A Gospel Christmas. His arrangements have been performed at Carnegie Hall, The Kennedy Center, Lincoln Center’s Avery Fisher Hall, Constitution Hall in Washington D.C., The Crystal Cathedral in Anaheim, California, as well as the Macy’s 4th of July Fireworks show in 2005, 2006 and 2010. Credits as a performer include: Broadway: RENT, The Wild Party, Big River (Tony nomination 2004, Drama Desk nomination), The Who's Tommy, Miss Saigon, Patti LuPone on Broadway, High Roller Social Pleasure Club, HAIR (Encores). New York Philharmonic: Candide. National Tours: Rent, Big River (LA Ovation nomination), SARAFINA. Off-Broadway: Some Men (Second Stage Theater), BLUE (Roundabout), Violet (Playwrights Horizons, Drama Desk Nomination), Thunder Knocking on the Door (Minetta Lane), Richard III (NYSF) Film: Rent Live on Broadway, Romance and Cigarettes, Stonewall. Television: Canterbury Law, Love Monkey, All My Children, Spin City, Michael Jackson Concert, 2002 Grammy's.
Stephen Lang is an American screen and stage actor, and playwright. He is known for roles in films including Manhunter (1986), Gettysburg, Tombstone (both 1993), Gods and Generals (2003), Public Enemies (2009) and Don't Breathe (2016). He received a Tony Award nomination for his role in the 1992 Broadway production of The Speed of Darkness and won the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in James Cameron's Avatar (2009). From 2004 to 2006, he was co-artistic director of the Actors Studio.
David Hyde Pierce is an American actor and director, best known for playing psychiatrist Dr. Niles Crane on the NBC sitcom Frasier, for which he received 11 Primetime Emmy Awards nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series and 4 wins during the show's run. He is also known for his appearances on The Good Wife (2014-2015). Pierce has appeared in many films, including Terry Gilliam's The Fisher King (1991), Nora Ephron's Sleepless in Seattle (1993), Mike Nichols' Wolf (1994), and Oliver Stone's Nixon (1995). He has also starred in the cult comedies Wet Hot American Summer (2001), and Down with Love (2003), and the dark comedy film The Perfect Host (2010). He is also known for his voice performances in Disney Pixar's A Bug's Life (1998), Osmosis Jones (2001), and Treasure Planet (2002). His Broadway roles include Sir Robin in Monty Python's Spamalot, Vanya in Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike and Horace Vandergelder in Hello, Dolly!. He won the 2007 Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actor in a Musical for his performance in Curtains. In 2015, he directed the Broadway musical It Shoulda Been You.
Constance Ann Shulman is an American actress, best known for her recurring role as Yoga Jones in the Netflix comedy-drama series, Orange Is the New Black, for which she received a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by an Ensemble in a Comedy Series, and for voicing Patti Mayonnaise on Doug. Shulman originated the role of Annelle in the first production of Steel Magnolias Off-Broadway and has appeared in over a dozen feature films including, Fletch Lives, Fried Green Tomatoes, Men Don't Leave and Sweet and Lowdown. She lives in New York City with her husband, actor Reed Birney, and their two children who are also actors.
Jerry Dixon is an American actor, director, lyricist, choreographer, and composer best known for his work on the Broadway stage, including Once on This Island, Five Guys Named Moe, If/Then, and more. Mario Cantone is an American comedian, writer, actor, and singer with numerous appearances on Comedy Central including Chappelle's Show. He also played Anthony Marentino on Sex and the City. Broadway credits include, Love! Valour! Compassion!, The Tempest, An Evening With Mario Cantone, Assassins and more.
Raúl Esparza is a multiple time Tony and Drama Desk award-winning stage, screen and film actor. Broadway credits include, Leap of Faith (Drama Desk nominee), Arcadia, Speed the Plow (Tony nominee, Drama Desk nominee), The Homecoming (Tony nominee, Drama Desk Award: Ensemble Performance), Company (Tony nominee; Drama Desk Award, Best Actor), Taboo (Tony nominee; Drama Desk Award, Best Featured Actor), Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, Cabaret, The Rocky Horror Picture Show (Theatre World Award). Off-Broadway includes, Seared, Road Show, The Resistable Rise of Arturo Ui, Cymbeline, Twelfth Night, The Normal Heart, Comedians, tick, tick…BOOM! (Obie Award, Drama Desk nominee). Film and Television credits include, Ferdinand, Custody, Trouble in the Heights, Georgetown, My Soul to Take, Sidney Lumet’s Find Me Guilty, BoJack Horseman (Netflix Original Series), The Path (Hulu Original Series), Hannibal, Law & Order: SVU, Pushing Daisies.
Stephanie J. Block is an actress known for Madam Secretary (2014), Orange Is the New Black (2013) and Homeland (2011). She most recently won the 2019 Tony Award for Best Leading Actress in a Musical, as well as winning The Drama Desk Award and Outer Critics Award for her STAR turn in THE CHER SHOW. Stephanie's solo album, THIS PLACE I KNOW has been received with great praise, lauded by critics as "One of the best debut recordings to come out of the Broadway community in quite some time... 6 out of 5 stars". Composers such as Stephen Schwartz, Marvin Hamlisch and the legendary Dolly Parton join forces with Ms. Block to create a thrilling musical experience. Stephanie's voice can be heard on multiple cast recordings, including THE BOY FROM OZ, THE PIRATE QUEEN, WICKED's 5th Anniversary Album and 9 TO 5: THE MUSICAL (GrammyNomination).
Annaleigh Ashford won the Tony Award, Drama Desk Award, and Outer Critics Circle Award for her portrayal of Essie in You Can't Take It With You on Broadway. She starred opposite Jake Gyllenhaal as Dot in Stephen Sondheim's Sunday in the Park With George, and played Betty on Showtime's critically acclaimed Masters of Sex. Other Broadway credits include Sylvia in Sylvia, the original Lauren in Kinky Boots (Clarence Derwent Award, Tony, Drama Desk, Outer Critics Circle nominations), Glinda in Wicked, Jeannie in Hair, and the original Margot in Legally Blonde the Musical.
Reed Birney is an award-winning stage, television and film actor. In 2016, he won the Tony Award for Best Featured Actor for his performance in the play The Humans, for which he also won a Drama Desk Award as well as nominations from the Outer Critics Circle and Drama League. His full body of work to date has been recognized with multiple awards and nominations, from the Tonys and Obies to Drama League, Drama Desk, Outer Circle and Lortels awards. He made his New York debut at Playwrights Horizons in 1976 in Gemini. He also appeared there in Herself As Lust (1982), An Imaginary Life (1994), The Butterfly Collection (2000), Pen (2006), The Savannah Disputation (2009) Circle Mirror Transformation. Other New York appearances include Tigers Be Still (Roundabout), Blasted (Soho Rep), Stuff Happens (The Public), Our Leading Lady (MTC), Bug (Barrow Street), Loose Knit, The Family of Mann (Second Stage), The Common Pursuit (Promenade), Volunteer Man (Rattlestick), Bedfellows (Bat Theatre), and Minor Demons, The Exact Center of the Universe (Century Center). His television performances include Matthew Lester in Kane & Abel, Mr. Prescott on Gossip Girl, Donald Blythe on the Netflix series, House of Cards, Tom Connolly in The Blacklist and Dr. Adamson on Titans.' Movie roles include Louie in Four Friends (1981), the Merchant Prince in A Perfect Murder (1998), and Governor Willis in Morning Glory (2010). Reed is an Adjunct Assistant Professor at Columbia University.
Singer, writer, producer, and actress, Maxine Linehan is an interpretive artist that uses popular songbooks and theatrical presentations to share intimate truths and build communal bonds. Maxine performs in both world-famous venues and in intimate settings. Her artistic choices are tailored around bringing forth the poignancy of the lyrics in the body of work she is reimagining. Within any musical setting, Maxine’s sensually emotive vocals shine through. Her repertoire is refreshingly eclectic; to date, she’s interpreted the songbooks of such varied artists as U2, Petula Clark, and Barbra Streisand. Maxine is an empathic artist who chooses her subjects carefully based on her emotional connection to a given body of work and her ability to make those feelings broadly resonant. Maxine’s studio album, Beautiful Songs, was awarded a Top Ten pick by USA Today, and garnered rave reviews in the New York Times. In addition, she’s earned enthusiastic reviews from Billboard, and The Huffington Post, among other outlets.
Katie Couric is an award-winning journalist, New York Times best-selling author and a co-founder of Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C). Couric was the first woman to solo anchor a network evening newscast, serving as anchor and managing editor of the CBS Evening News from 2006 to 2011 following 15-years as co-anchor of NBC’s Today show. In 2017, she founded Katie Couric Media (KCM), which has developed a number of media projects, including a daily newsletter, a podcast, digital video series and several documentaries. She has won a duPont-Columbia, a Peabody, two Edward R. Murrows, a Walter Cronkite Award, and multiple Emmys. She was twice named one of Time magazine’s 100 most influential people and was a Glamour Magazine woman of the year three times. She has also received numerous awards for her cancer advocacy work; honored by both the Harvard and Columbia schools of public health, the American Cancer Society and The American Association of Cancer Researchers.
Rosanna Scotto is the co-host of Good Day New York. She has been a member of WNYW-FOX 5 News since 1986.She returned to her native New York in the early 1980s as a reporter for WABC's "Good Morning New York," then joining WABC-TV's "Eyewitness News" as a reporter, where she remained until she joined FOX 5. Scotto has won three Emmys for anchoring FOX 5 News at 10 and Good Day New York. She is the winner of the 1995 New York State Associated Press First Place Award for her report "New York Survival Guide" and also the winner of three other Associated Press First Place Awards, including two special Associated Press Award nominations.Scotto has received a host of honors and awards for her community service work.
Nancy Mercado is an American writer, editor, educator and activist. As the recipient of an American Book Award for Lifetime Achievement, her work focuses on issues of injustice, the environment, and the Puerto Rican and Latino experience in the United States. Her poetry, publications and works can be found at www.nancy-mercado.com.
Ondine Jean-Baptiste is the Communications Specialist at The Harnisch Foundation. Her mission is to elevate and share the films, initiatives, projects, and people who have historically been underfunded and underrepresented; increase our visibility as a resource for women, girls, and non-binary individuals to seek leadership and confidence-building strategies through our various programs, and build a visible and strong community on our various social media channels. Ondine has piloted social media initiatives in her time at the Brooklyn Historical Society after working in influencer marketing at a female founded and female-run tech startup. She has also written about sexism at work, reproductive health, and body image for various women’s publications, websites, and magazines. She graduated from Hamilton College in 2017 with a B.A. in Women’s Studies and Comparative Literature. When she is not glued to her phone, she is most likely to be spotted at the duck pond in Prospect Park, sipping a glass of natural wine, or crafting brownies that are just the right amount of fudgy on the inside yet crumbly on the out.
Robert Zerilli is the fourth-generation president/manager of Veniero's Pasticceria and Caffé, the East Village bakery, family owned and operated for 126 years. Veniero's was founded by Antonio Veniero, an Italian who immigrated to the United States in 1885 when he was 15 years old. The business started at its East 11th street location as a candy shop where customers could also buy espresso and biscotti. Today, Veniero's serves over 150 desserts from traditional butter cookies, cannolis, red velvet cake, chocolate mousse cake and Veniero's signature traditional Italian cheesecake—all available for takeout and delivery-
Sian Leah Beilock is President of Barnard College at Columbia University here in New York City. A cognitive scientist by training, she is focused on further developing Barnard as a singular institution. She has published more than 100 papers and has received funding from the National Science Foundation (including a CAREER award), the Department of Education, and several foundations. Beilock won the 2017 Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, she is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Psychological Association, and a member of the National Academy of Kinesiology. President Beilock is the author of two books—the critically acclaimed Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To (2010) and How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel (2015). Her 2017 TED talk has been viewed over 2 million times.
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