Amazing Asians in the Arts: Ali Ewoldt
Ali Ewoldt is a singer and actress based in New York City! She was the first Asian American and BIPOC actress to star in the role of Christine in “Phantom of the Opera” on Broadway (30th Anniversary cast), as well as Cosette in “Les Miserables,” and the Lincoln Center Revival of “The King and I.” She has also performed as a soloist in concert with orchestras all over the world! Keep reading to find out more about what makes Ali an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Ali Ewoldt
Heritage: Half Filipino, half “Midwestern” (ethnically a quarter Italian, a quarter German)
Hometown: Pleasantville, NY
Current City: New York, New York
Trying to make art and support social change while keeping myself and those around me safe.
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
Christine in Phantom of the Opera on Broadway (first AAPI, BIPOC on Broadway; 30th Anniversary cast)
Cosette in Les Miserables on Broadway (2006 Revival)
The King and I (Lincoln Center Revival)
Luisa in The Fantasticks (Off-Broadway)
Martha Jefferson in 1776 (The MUNY)
Philia in A Funny Thing Happened… (The MUNY)
Sarah Brown in Guys and Dolls (Sacramento Music Circus)
One-woman play of Anne of Green Cables (Off-Broadway)
Vocal soloist in orchestral concerts all over the world – Carnegie Hall, Houston Symphony, Taiwan, Dubai, Tokyo
What are some interesting facts about yourself?
I was the valedictorian of my high school class.
I played the oboe in middle and high school and was part of a Woodwind Quintet called The Pleasant Winds (we did some outdoor concerts and holiday parties)
I have a B.A. in psychology from Yale University
I have an adopted toy poodle mix named Mia Belle
My college friends nicknamed me “Tiny.” Their kids now call me “Aunt Tiny.”
My Tita (Aunt) Myrna took me to my first Broadway show, A Chorus Line, when I was 8 years old.
I recently attended a family reunion in The Philippines. There were over 200 people there, and each family was required to put on a 10 minute “Broadway presentation!”
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you’d like to share?
There have been so many wonderful moments and I am so grateful for that. Performing “Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again” during Phantom of the Opera’s 30th Anniversary performance and getting an incredible amount of love and support from an audience of peers and industry professionals that I admire was very moving.
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Try your best not to compare yourself with others. We all have different strengths and gifts and paths. The more we can work to celebrate and cultivate these unique gifts, and the more we can strive to be the best versions of ourselves, the more satisfying our journeys will be, in my experience. Along these lines, there Is no magically correct formula that leads to a successful career in the arts--there is no particular school or training or program that is right for everyone--there are many ways to be an artist.
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
I think it’s incredibly important for me as an Asian-American to be an ally right now with the Black Lives Matter movement and organizations like The Okra Project. I appreciate the work that Unapologetically Asian is doing and am very grateful to The Actors Fund for supporting artists during this very difficult and uncertain time. I also volunteer with a lovely organization called Broadway Hearts which brings music to kids in the hospital and that is very rewarding.
How did you get your start?
I grew up taking dance class and voice lessons. I did my first and only professional show as a child when I was 10--the NY Premiere of Yeston/Kopit’s Phantom at The Westchester Broadway Theater. I played the “little girl” and my only real duties were skipping around for a couple of scenes, but I was bitten hard by the theater bug. I was fortunate to have an amazing public high school theater “program”--we did one big musical a year and the entire town got involved. But somehow I knew that the business was incredibly challenging, so I wanted to go to college to potentially find something else that I was similarly passionate about while still being able to perform. I was fortunate to go to Yale University, where I constantly did student-led productions and summer stock during the breaks. My senior year I was cast in the Yale Opera (graduate program) production of The Marriage of Figaro in a small supporting character. A New York agent happened to be in the audience and she thought I might have potential in musical theater. I auditioned for her a little while later, they took me on, and I have continued to be very fortunate since.
Who do you admire?
SO many people! Just to name a few: Lucy Liu, Ava DuVernay, Stella Abrera, Rebecca Luker, Audra McDonald, Shonda Rhimes, Michelle Obama, Sandra Oh, Kelli O’Hara…
Do you have any mentors?
I would not be where I am without my incredible teachers. My first voice teacher and mentor, Dr. Renato Vellutino, taught me (and our entire town) to value and respect musical theater. His lessons like, “your body is your instrument” have stayed with me and inspired me my entire career. Probably my most formative professional experience came with my first professional job out of college, understudying Jasmine in the Aladdin stage show at Disney’s California Adventure. The two women playing Jasmine, Deedee Magno Hall and Jennie Kwan, are both amazing Filipinas who had inspired me as a child when I watched them on television. And when it was time for me to play Jasmine for my put-in (understudy rehearsal in full costume/wig/etc), these two incredible women sat with me, helped me pin curl my hair, and gave me helpful hints about portraying the character. I continue to be blown away and so very grateful for their kindness and I try to pass it along whenever I can.
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
I think a sense of curiosity is key--I love to question why characters do the things they do, and how these factors can make them feel like multi-faceted humans (this is certainly connected to why I majored in psychology in college). This also applies to real-life interactions: trying to understand people, finding a sense of compassion and empathy for others. And curiosity is wonderful when deciding to take a job: what can I learn from this experience? Even if it’s not a high profile role or gig, will it help me to grow as an artist?
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
The constant rejection is difficult to not take personally. And the ever present uncertainty is very challenging as well. I am constantly working to focus my energy on the things I can control and to be less anxious about the things I cannot.
What do you love most about what you do?
I love telling stories collaboratively with wonderful colleagues. Sharing my gifts while feeding off of the energy and artistry of my remarkable peers. And hopefully positively impacting the hearts and minds of those who are watching.
To find out more about Ali, please visit her at: