Joanna Merlin, a student of Michael Chekhov, is an actor, teacher and former casting director. She is a faculty member at New York University’s Graduate Acting program at the Tisch School of the Arts and teaches regular workshops at the American Conservatory Theatre, the Professional Musical Theater Workshop at the Manhattan School of Music and the Michael Chekhov Association.
She is the recipient of two Casting Society of America Artios Awards for casting Bertolucci’s The Last Emporer and Sondheim’s Into the Woods. As Harold Prince’s Casting Director, she cast the original Broadway productions of Sondheim’s Company, Follies, A Little Night Music, Pacific Overtures, Sweeney Todd, and Merrily We Roll Along, as well as Evita, Candide, A Doll’s Life, Play Memory, End of the World, and On the Twentieth Century. Other films include Merchant/Ivory’s Mr. and Mrs. Bridge, as well as the American casting for their Jefferson in Paris and Surviving Picasso, Michael Cimino’s Year of the Dragon and John Carpenter’s Big Trouble in Little China.
As an actor, her Broadway credits include “Becket” opposite Laurence Olivier and “Fiddler on the Roof” in which she created the role of “Tzeitel”, the eldest daughter. Films include Sarah’s Key, The Wackness, Invasion, City of Angels, Class Action, Mystic Pizza, Fame, The Killing Fields, The Ten Commandments. She has a recurring part in Law and Order, Special Victims Unit as Judge Lena Petrovsky.
She is a co-founder of the Alliance for Inclusion in the Arts (formerly the Non-Traditional Casting Project) and was a member of the Tony Awards Nominating Committee. Her book, Auditioning: An Actor-Friendly Guide, was published by Vintage in May, 2001 and is in its 10th printing.
Ms. Merlin is the President of the Michael Chekhov Association.