Nina Arianda, in just her
second Broadway play, is a
new force in American theater
In Venus in Fur, the sexy play about a dance around power, Nina Arianda makes an astonishing metamor- phosis. She blusters on to the stage, legs and arms akimbo, shouting obscenities. But in the final scene, she
is a commanding presence whose energy burns bright—and
fills the audience with awe.
In between, she plays two complex characters, and makes
them physical, cerebral, sophisticated, simple, calculating,
This is only her second role on Broadway. Her first, as
Billie Dawn in Born Yesterday, earned her a Tony and a
Drama Desk nod for best actress.
Venus in Fur is, on the surface, the story of an
When she’s first on stage in Venus in Fur, which recently
actress, Vanda, trying to win a part. Arianda was
so in love with Vanda that she showed up for
her off-Broadway tryout with Vanda’s same
bag of props. She didn’t just read lines—
“She brought the entire script to
life,” the director, Walter Bobbie,
said in a New Yorker article on
Arianda. And the actress at an
audition got the part of the
actress at an audition.
“It’s very ironic. I’m still
pinching myself,” says Ari-
anda, 27, incredulous that she
landed the lead in a two-per-
son, off-Broadway play right
after graduating from N. Y.U.
“That doesn’t happen. I’m very
aware of that.”
Arianda grew up in Clifton,
N.J., with parents who were happy to
shuttle her to auditions. Her first perfor-
mance, at age 3, was a public reading of a Ukrai-
nian poem. (She speaks Ukrainian with her family.) When
she was in high school, her family moved to Germany, but at
age 17, having been rejected by two British drama schools, she
came back to the U.S.—alone—to work on her acting career.
moved to Broadway, Arianda reminds you of ... Adriana from The