ViacomCBS has selected the 16 performers from across the country for the virtual edition of the 2021 Showcase. The live streaming event will take place on February 17 at 4PM PT and February 18 at 1PM PT and 4PM PT. The February 17 event will be followed by a Q&A with the creative team.
Aline Mayagoitia, Kausar Mohammed, Natasha Behnam, Dev Middleton, Artoun Nazareth, Laura de la Fuente, Ibanda Ruhumbika, Morgan Jay, Asia Martin, Calvin Seabrooks, Lauren Walker, Nicole Pasquale, Andrea Lopez, Sahib Singh, Shannon DeVido and Jordan Mendoza will “showcase” their talent in the annual live hybrid comedy-Broadway-sketch show that started 16 years ago. Showcase, which features all original and creative material, is an event to spotlight diverse talent, Showcase is attended by senior-level executives, showrunners and casting directors from ViacomCBS properties, as well as other networks and talent agents/managers from across the entertainment industry.
From Washington, D.C. to New York City to Austin to Baltimore to Philadelphia, this year’s event will feature a cast from a wide range of performance backgrounds, from sketch and improv to musical theater, stand-up and digital comedy. Considering we are in a pandemic, the cast had an opportunity to remotely collaborate.
“We are so excited to welcome these 16 talented performers from around the country to what will surely be an unforgettable year of SHOWCASE,” said Claudia Lyon, Executive Vice President, Talent and Casting, CBS Entertainment and Dorey Poder, Vice President, Talent and Casting, CBS Entertainment. “Although we faced many unknowns and challenges along the way, this ensemble has been fearless in their creative ambitions and have exceeded all expectations. Whether they are performing from a green-screen studio in Philadelphia, a one-bedroom apartment in Chicago, or a Los Angeles set with face shields and hand sanitizer, this cast is guaranteed to bring a smile to your face.”
After being selected from a record-breaking number of applicants, each performer underwent a month-long development process where they pitched ideas to the creative team (all of whom are alumni of the program) and then wrote their own sketches. The cast was also sent resources and tools to help them record and produce their scenes. These at-home kits included mics, lighting equipment, tripods, light stands and more. The creative team integrated tutorials into the rehearsal process, ensuring that each cast member was prepared to execute their sketches. While following strict safety guidelines and protocols, performers were able to shoot footage on small sets under the supervision of a Covid Compliance Officer.
As previously reported, Tess Paras will executive produce and direct while Tien Tran will serve as executive produce and return as head writer. Frank Garcia-Hejl joins as producer and associate director and rounding out the team is Tyler Davis who will serve as producer and associate head writer.
The most recent 2020 and 2019 Showcase have resulted in numerous bookings for participants on CBS Television Network’s and CBS Studios’ series, including All Rise, Bob ♥ Abishola, Magnum P.I., The Neighborhood and more. Alumni of the Showcase include Emmy winners Kate McKinnon and Tiffany Haddish as well as Diona Reasonover (NCIS), Justin Hires (MacGyver), Geoffrey Arend (Madam Secretary), Nico Santos (Superstore and Crazy Rich Asians) and Ego Nwodim (“Saturday Night Live”), among others.
Watch the trailer for Showcase and read the bios of this year’s performers below.
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Education: B.A., television radio and film, S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University
Credits: Television: “Bring The Funny” (NBC), “Pop of The Morning” E! News (NBC)
Digital: “Did You See This” (Buzzfeed)
Interesting Fact: During my mom’s pregnancy with me, the doctor told her she was experiencing a ‘vanishing twin’ which is when you are pregnant with twins, but one sac is dominant and absorbs the other sac when there aren’t enough nutrients. My parents joke this is why I have so many characters.
Hometown: Mexico City. Currently living in New York City
Education: BFA, musical theatre, The University of Michigan
Training: Upright Citizens Brigade (New York), Second City (Chicago), Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts
Credits: Theatre: Forbidden Broadway: The Next Generation
Interesting Fact: In 6th grade I thought Chris Brown was an 8th grader everyone talked about.
Hometown: Englewood, N.J.
Education: B.S., drama and cognitive brain sciences, Tufts University
Training: Upright Citizens Brigade (Los Angeles)
Credits: Television: “Ghost Busters: Afterlife” (Sony), “The Muppets Now” (Disney +), “The Connors” (ABC), “Stumptown” (ABC)
Stage: “Harold Night” (Upright Citizens Brigade Los Angeles), “Maude Night” (Upright Citizens Brigade Los Angeles), “Characters Welcome” (Upright Citizens Brigade Los Angeles)
Digital: “Westinghouse” (Vimeo)
Interesting Fact: I have practiced and perfected the art of stage hypnosis.
Hometown: Washington, D.C.
Education: Duke Ellington School of the Arts and Depaul University
Training: NBC Bob Curry Fellowship, Second City Conservatory (Chicago)
Credits: Stage: NBC Breakout Comedy Festival, Second City Mainstage (Chicago), Second City National Touring Company, The Kennedy Center, The Laugh Factory (Chicago), The Comedy Store (Los Angeles)
Digital: Illinois Lottery Mega Millions Commercials, Studio B Series, Coors Selzter Commercial
Interesting Fact: I have a cat named Asia Minor.
Hometown: San Diego, Calif.
Education: BFA, musical theatre, California State Fullerton
Training: John Rosenfeld Studio, Upright Citizens Brigade (Los Angeles), Cal State Fullerton
Credits: Television: “Westworld” (HBO), “Dollface” (Hulu)
Stage: “Hairspray” Pacific Conservatory Theatre
Interesting Fact: Once upon a time I was in a boyband. We were on X Factor (USA) … Simon did not like us.
Hometown: Fort Wayne, Ind.
Education: B.A., communications, Purdue University
Training: Second City Training Center (Chicago), iO Theater, Chicago
Credits: Television: “Utopia” (Amazon Prime)
Stage: Teen Cudi Presents “Black Boy Joy” (Annoyance Theater),
“Hyde Ya Kids, Hyde Ya Park” (The Revival Theater)
Interesting Fact: I own over 30 blazers.
Hometown: Athens, Ga.
Education: B.M., classical tuba, The Juilliard School
Training: The Juilliard School, Upright Citizens Brigade (New York), The Magnet Theater
Credits: Television: “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert” (CBS), “Boardwalk Empire” (HBO)
Stage: “Characters Welcome” (Upright Citizens Brigade Los Angeles), “Mess Hall” (Upright Citizens Brigade Los Angeles)
Interesting Fact: I’m a certified yoga instructor! I also own a lot of plants. I might have a problem.
Hometown: Easton, Mass.
Education: Boston College
Training: WGAE “Made in NY” Writers Room
Credits: Television: Writer “Untitled Ziwe Fumudoh” (A24/Showtime Variety Series)
Stage: Creator/Host “Drunk Science” (Littlefield), Creator/Host “Art School” (Union Hall)
Digital: Creator/Host “Cry Battle” (Comedy Central), Creator/Star “Apologies” (Comedy Central), “My Guy Died” (Team Coco)
Interesting Fact: To learn how to cry on command for “Cry Battle,” (my competitive crying game show on Comedy Central), I took “breathwork for trauma” classes where I relived horrific memories from my childhood. It worked!
Hometown: San Jose, Calif.
Education: UCLA (theatre/film/tv, international development studies)
Training: Upright Citizen’s Brigade (Los Angeles), Groundlings (Los Angeles), Lesly Kahn, Anthony Meindl
Credits: Television: “Carol’s Second Act” (CBS), “Black Lightning” (CW), “Silicon Valley” (HBO)
Film: “What Men Want” (Paramount), “Little” (Universal)
Stage: Upright Citizen’s Brigade (Los Angeles), Maude Night’s “Emerald” and “Smokeshow,” iOWest’s “Laughtivism,” UCLA’s “Company,” “The Get Brown” (Upright Citizen’s Brigade Los Angeles and currently produced by Embassy Row)
Digital: Series lead on Paul Feig’s (Bridesmaids) “East of La Brea”
Voice Over: Lead on “Jurassic World: Camp Cretaceous” (Netflix) and “Great Pretender” (Netflix)
Interesting Fact: I am part Hufflepuff/part Slytherin.
Laura de la Fuente
Hometown: Plano, Texas
Education: B.A., english, University of North Texas
Training: ColdTowne Theater (Austin, Texas)
Credits: Stage: “Liz Behan: One Woman at Dusk” (ColdTowne Theater), “Latinauts” (ColdTowne Theater), “Martini Ranch” (ColdTowne Theater)
Interesting Fact: At 14, I was an NFL punt, pass, and kick Champion representing the Dallas Cowboys which means I am now and always have been, a lesbian.
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Training: The Second City (Chicago), ImprovOlympic, The Annoyance
Credits: Stage: She The People (The Second City Chicago)
Digital: “Just Call Me Ripley” (OTV)
Interesting Fact: When I was about 9 years old, I took my brother’s pet turtle for a walk and lost it for an entire year before finding it under our porch.
Hometown: Mahwah, N.J.
Education: NYU Tisch School of the Arts
Training: Stella Adler Studio of Acting, Upright Citizens Brigade (New York)
Credits: Television: “Bring the Funny” (NBC)
Fun Fact: My dad was a chef, and I can actually cook pretty well.
Hometown: Orange County, Calif.
Education: B.A., film & television production / Minor, theatre arts, Loyola Marymount University
Training: Upright Citizens Brigade (Los Angeles), The Groundlings Theatre and School, Studio 24/7, Loyola Marymount University
Credits: Television: “Crazy Ex-Girlfriend” (The CW), “Arranged” (POP TV), “Animal Kingdom” (TNT)
Film: “American Pie: Girls’ Rules” (Universal/Netflix)
Interesting Fact: My five closest friends all have IBS, and since being friends with them, I’ve also developed IBS, purely through association.
Hometown: Anchorage, Alaska
Education: B.S., liberal arts, screen & TV writing, The New School; Two-Year Conservatory Certificate, acting, The American Musical & Dramatic Academy (AMDA) New York City
Training: AMDA, The New School, Upright Citizens Brigade (New York), Second City (Chicago)
Credits: Television: “The Undoing” (HBO), “Younger” (TV Land), “The Break with Michelle Wolf” (Netflix)
Film: “Snatchers” (Wolfman Christmas)
Stage: “WOKE AF: A Mind-Opening Variety Show” (Upright Citizens Brigade New York and Los Angeles), “Asian AF” (Upright Citizens Brigade New York), “Lloyd Night” (Upright Citizens Brigade New York), “Crisis on Ski Mountain” (Annoyance Theatre New York), “Big Business Sketch” (Peoples’ Improv Theatre), “Hippolytus” (Off-Broadway), “Restless” (Old Vic New Voices)
Digital: “Unsung Heroes of Hollywood” (Above Average), “MTV’s Decoded” (MTV), “Mic Check” (Mic), “Ghost Wine” (College Humor CH2), “Women’s Tennis Grunting PSA” (Funny or Die)
Interesting Fact: My first job at age 13 was as a robotic dancer playing the “Thailand doll” in an interactive theatre experience called Enchanted World. Think a live-action “It’s A Small World After All” with the same level of creepiness.
Hometown: Baltimore, Md.
Education: B.S., finance, University of Maryland
Credits: Digital: “As Seen on Adult Swim” (Adult Swim)
Interesting Fact: I have two pet poison dart frogs, Demetrius and Shaw, that I don’t tell anyone about because I’m afraid it’ll ruin my brand.
Hometown: Holland, Pa.
Education: B.S., music business, Middle Tennessee State University
Training: Upright Citizen’s Brigade (New York), The People’s Improv Theater
Credits: Television: “Insatiable” (Netflix), “Difficult People” (Hulu), “Delco Proper” (Comedy Central), “The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore” (Comedy Central), “Nightcap” (Pop), “Law and Order: SVU” (NBC)
Stage: “Teenage Dick” (Public Theater), “The Healing” (Theater Row), “Bent but Not Broken” (Upright Citizen’s Brigade New York) Digital: “Delco Proper” (Comedy Central), “Stare at Shannon” (YouTube)
Interesting Fact: I’ve sung the National Anthem in 10 Major League Baseball stadiums around the country, on a quest to perform in all 30.
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