SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ -Things are going pretty good these days for Antonette Hudak.
The former South Plainfield resident has spent much of the past year pursing her new found passion for the arts, performing in small independent theater productions and working as a production manager for a short film. Most recently, Hudak has been busy putting the finishing touches on her short play, which will be presented this week at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s 10th Anniversary Event.
A 2009 graduate of South Plainfield High School, Hudak didn't grow up with aspirations to be an actress or playwright. In fact, a career in the arts wasn't something she had ever considered pursuing until a little over a year ago.
“I was one of those people who had no idea what to do with my life. I knew I wanted to go to college and that I didn't want to be complacent but I couldn't figure out what I wanted to do,” said Hudak, who went on to earn a business degree in hotel management from Pace University and has been working in the hotel industry for the past three years.
That all started to change back in February 2014 after a hotel guest posed a very important question. “He asked me what I would do with my life if I had no fears and my answer was to be an actress,” Hudak said.
Last June, Hudak began taking acting classes at the Manhattan-based Maria Riboli’s Acting Studio and, in a short period of time, things started to happen. This past January, Hudak made her stage debut at the Winter One Act Play Competition 2015, playing the role of “Dylan” in Robin Rosado’s Deuce of Diamonds. The show, which made the finals alongside productions from acting students from both Juilliard and NYU, took place at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre.
In March, Hudak performed a monologue in Debbie Isitt’s play The Woman Who Cooked Her Husband, which also made the finals at the Winter Monologue Competition and, in April, she landed her first job in film, serving as a production assistant for the 15-minute short Meet Me Here, which was written by Kirsten Russell and directed by Maria Riboli.
This week, Hudak’s rising star is about to get even brighter. The short play she wrote and stars in will be performed Wednesday, July 15 and Thursday, July 16 at the Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s 10th Anniversary Event. Entitled How to Love A Drug Addict, the 15-minute play is about a 16-year-old girl named ‘Gia’ who, unable to deal with the loss of her mother, turns to drug addiction as an escape.
“Most people’s instincts are to isolate a drug addict because of the life they lead, but the truth is they need love and respect just as much as any human being. They need unconditional love, and drugs will test what unconditional means,” said Hudak, who portrays the role of ‘Gia’s younger sister ‘Joey’ in the play. “The play describes that being on heroin is like falling in love: a state of being that takes all the pain away and comes with consequences.”
Although she’s been writing diary entries, short stories and poems since she was 12 years old, How to Love … is Hudak’s first play and its storyline is extremely personal since it is based on experiences in her own life. "I wrote about someone I love very much,” said Hudak, who has plans over the next few months to turn How to Love… into a short, 30-minute film that she can submit to festivals. “I am hoping someone picks it up.”
Additionally, come October, Hudak will begin her first professional position in theater, working as the stage manager for the Off Broadway production of Rabbit Hole, which was written by David Lindsay-Abaire for the Full Spectrum Theater Company.
“It’s all starting to come together and it’s all very cool,” said Hudak, who credits her teacher and mentor Maria Riboli for all the success she has had in a short time.
For Hudak, who will turn 24 years old later this month, acting, for her, is as much rewarding as it is a personal outlet. “Not only is there so much adrenaline from being on the stage but you really start learning about yourself and it makes you feel like you have a purpose that is greater than yourself,” she said, adding that her dream is to one day star in a feature film directed by the one-and-only Martin Scorsese or perhaps be on Broadway or maybe even write a Broadway Play.
“Acting and writing are both so important to me. There’s nothing more thrilling than being on stage but I have also been writing for a long time,” she said. “I love them both and I can’t imagine not having either in my life.”