Since launching the “Really Busy People” column, I have had the pleasure of talking to a heavy metal singer, an art gallery owner, an angel investor, a music producer, a professional wrestler, and a singer/songwriter. Yet all of these interview subjects made it clear that they do a lot more than their aforementioned occupation. They all carry an entrepreneurial spirit which leads them to productivity and success in other fields.
This week’s subject, Cassandra Seidenfeld, is no different as her interests and talents are very diverse. She first achieved success as a model, found her way into business ownership, and ultimately found her way into both acting and working with non-profit organizations; she currently chairs and/or serves on the board of The Sphinx Organization, The Woman’s Project, The New York Dance Alliance Foundation, and Fashion 4 Development.
Although a true New Yorker, Cassandra kindly answered some questions for me from afar – she is currently performing in the Arkansas Repertory Theatre’s 2015 production of “Osage County.”
What does a typical day look like for you?
Cassandra Seidenfeld: A typical day for me in New York begins with a 90 Minute SoulCycle workout with Master Instructor Stacey Griffith, a stop at Juice Press for a fresh shake, sometimes followed by a Ladies’ Luncheon or a rehearsal/film call time until early to mid-evening. Usually, I try to have dinner at 7:00 p.m., except on Mondays when I take another 90 Minute Soul Challenge with Stacey Griffith on East 83rd Street. From 8:00 p.m. until 10:00 p.m. on non-Mondays, I attend openings, private parties, launches, book signings, business dinners, and other celebratory events. Also, when I attend a gala, I have hair and makeup done by 5:00 p.m. and I plan to be home by 10:00 p.m. I feel that adequate sleep is vital to sustain and balance an active New York lifestyle.
What do you wish more people knew about Cassandra Seidenfeld?
C: I would like to share that I am blessed to be involved in several charitable organizations that I have a personal connection to. They are not all of the charitable organizations that I contribute to or support; however, they have a particular meaning in my life. So, I attend social functions to support them, and to support my friends who are involved in other charities. This of course is a combination of the social and philanthropic world coexisting. In my life as a professional actor, I am passionately dedicated to my work, honing my craft, helping other people in the industry when and where I can, learning something new every day within the acting world, and trying to keep a certain public balanced persona with respect to my private life. This persona includes attending red carpet events, galas, parties, and using social media as a tool for providing social awareness for both worthy causes as well as aiding my acting endeavors. That is my understanding of how I exist in the world of “New York socialites.”
When someone describes you as a “New York socialite,” how does that feel? Is there an endearing term for you?
C: I suppose when someone describes me as a “New York socialite,” it would depend highly on what their understanding of that terminology is. Sometimes, it has a negative connotation…if they share my sentiments, then I feel very good. Even if they do not feel the same way as I do, I can appreciate their intention as long as it has a positive reinforcement. An endearing term for me, would probably be “humanitarian”: a person who seeks to promote human welfare; a philanthropist, or social reformer.
You’re an actress, a board member for several non-profit organizations, have been a business-owner, had a successful international modeling career, and have been a competitive equestrian. When someone asks what do you do for a living, how do you usually answer?
C: I love this question! Sometimes I have to stop and think of that answer myself. I am a professional actor for a living.
You are heavily active on social media, also keeping up a few websites in addition. How do you manage to stay so on top of things? Are you big into Google Calendar or iCal?
C: Sometimes, staying on top of things is like a juggling act…I still maintain a hard copy slim agenda for immediate reference to a weekly overview. I also use my iCal Alerts every day to remind me of upcoming rehearsals, filming, notifications of events that require extensive travel time or extra prep, scheduled meetings, alerts for weekly SoulCycle classes, and to remind me of even standing appointments. It’s easy to become distracted and overwhelmed with time management in New York City!
With regards to my To-Do Lists, I’m not a Post-It person. I think Post-Its are great for an idea that needs to be jotted down but if you end up with a pad of Post-Its each week, I find it challenges efficiency and productivity. In some ways it might even cause more work for one.
I love my iCal for this too because when I have a shopping list for example with an allocated time to go marketing, I load my list into the date and time that I plan to run that errand. Similarly, if I have other errands to do in that neighborhood, I enter them into my iCal around the same time on the same day. As I accomplish each to-do, I immediately delete the entire entry. If I have to carry something over to another date, that perhaps I didn’t find for a multitude of reasons or couldn’t do because I spent too much time in the grocery store, I simply change the date and time in my iCal entry for whatever I might have left over, and there’s no paper trail, no forgetfulness and no panic. Before iCal, I used to depend heavily on lists, lists for lists, and lists to remind me of lists. Now it’s a three step iCal sequence: enter the data, delete as I complete tasks, and carry over unfinished tasks. But my family and my work are my priorities.
Do you have a professional accomplishment that you’re most proud of?
C: Yes, I do at this very moment. Being cast as Johnna Monevata in this amazing theatrical production of The Rep’s “August: Osage County” – directed by the esteemed Mr. Robert Hupp – is one of the most proud and humbling moments of my life. Like a dream come true!
Is there a field you haven’t yet worked in which you would eventually like to?
C: Right now, I am working on stage, in film, on television, and in a web series. I don’t know yet if there are any other fields that are industry-related that I would like to work in eventually. But I always like to stay open because you never know what may happen.
How did you get your start as an actress?
C: My acting career really began in my last semester at Columbia University when I started submitting myself for auditions, making a new headshot and resume, and I began to make rounds for agents and managers at that time…[but] I guess I got my start as an international fashion model…From the world of fashion modeling, I found myself immersed in the business environment. The business environment led me back to an educational yearning, which I pursued and graduated Columbia University in 2013. I then attended the two-year program at The William Esper Conservatory which I graduated in the summer of 2014.
I heard a rumor that you were asked to be on the “Real Housewives” series, but turned it down. Looking back, is that a decision that are proud of? What led to that decision?
C: Yes, this is correct. I was vacationing in Positano and I remember receiving a call from casting. I wrestled with the idea of what it would mean to be in a reality show. Having appeared on RHONY, I applaud their courage and lifestyle choices. I can neither say that I am proud or not proud of my decision. Perhaps the timing was off and the stars were not aligned. But I am happy for everyone on the show!
When not working, what do you like to do with yourself?
C: When I’m not working, I love to do interviews (laughs), golf, horseback ride when I can, catch up on sleep, and read new scripts or books that are waiting for me in the library or in my Rehearsal app.
Keeping things local with this question, what are some of your favorite spots in Downtown Manhattan?
C: The High Line rocks! Some of my favorite spots in Downtown Manhattan are Lure on Mercer Street, Balthazar, The NoMad, and Il Bucco on Great Jones Street.
Finally, Cassandra, any last words for the kids?
C: Hmmm, last words…This is fun! Dare to dream! Follow your dreams, follow your passions, and do everything that makes your heart happy and full because we only have one life, and it should be well-lived!
by Darren Paltrowitz