SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- Lainie Ventura, Fanwood resident, professional actress, and owner of the Actors’ Rec Room, shares her career, her teaching and her passion for working with kids.

“I grew up in Bensonhurst, where just about everyone had a large personality. Anyone you met had a story to tell and was a character. Being a tow-head (blond-haired) made me stand out, but what really separated me was that in spite of all the large personalities, I managed to be the center of attention," Ventura says. "I was constantly upside down, cartwheeling, flipping, dancing, performing gymnastics, telling stories; I loved to entertain people and make them smile.”

The actress and instructor says that she has been fascinated by the power of entertainment for as long as she can remember.

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"I would watch my dad laugh at his favorite shows on TV, or sit beside my grandmother after school as she watched her afternoon soaps and be fascinated by how real the actors were to her," Ventura recounted. "I wanted to be the person who could come into someone’s world and tell them a story or make them smile.”

“Being in front of an audience has always felt like home; for years, I was a competitive gymnast and dancer, and when I got my first chance at acting in college, I knew I had found my true calling," the veteran performer says. "Growing up in Brooklyn and navigating the NYC subway system with confidence from the age of 12 taught me that I could get anywhere I wanted to be.”

That destination turned out to be a stage. 

"When I got to college, I started formally acting and I haven’t looked back since.”

Ventura’s career choice paid off. Her portfolio of work includes commercials: (KFC, Tide, Clairol’s Herbal Essence, and Pizza Hut to name a few) as well as independent films, including award winning feature film,“The Adulterer” starring opposite TV/Film star Chris Diamantoupolos and Broadway stars Alice Ripley and Jeremy Kushnier, "Damaged Goods," which won the best short film at the Oregon Film Awards in ’12, and ‘Sitter,’ which was shot in Scotch Plains and went on to receive multiple industry awards. Ventura’s latest project, "The Four Letter Word," was the official selection of Hollywood’s 2016 Global Web Series Festival.

Ventura felt she had such a wonderful life in the business, it felt natural to want to share that joy and opportunity with others. Hence the creation of ‘The Actor’s Rec Room’ in 2014.

"I’ve read countless articles that exposing children to performing helps them build self-confidence, allows them to use their imaginations, teaches them how work with others and reinforces the importance of showing up prepared," Ventura says. "Being able to do all that while watching the kids have a great time and doing something I still truly love is incredibly rewarding.”

One of the keys to the Actors’ Rec Room’s success is the instructor's first-hand knowledge of the industry.  She believes that having real-world experience to draw from gives her endless material when creating the activities and creating exercises each week.

"I work hard to make sure I bring a spark of energy to each class; I want my students to be engaged and to be excited when the leave,” she concludes with a smile.

Ventura may be miles away from the streets she grew up on in Brooklyn, but the woman who always liked to light up a room and bring joy to others, has brought that desire to the streets and families of Fanwood, which she now calls home.

Ventura offers year long classes. For more information, contact her at: theactorsrecroom@gmail.com and you can visit her website www.theactorsrecroom.com. You can also find her on FB, Twitter and Instagram.