2018/19 Emerging Professional Residents

In order to further the development of the next generation of American theater artists, for over 50 years Milwaukee Repertory Theater has supported one of regional theater’s most highly respected programs for emerging professionals. Each season, Milwaukee Rep welcomes Emerging Professional Residents (EPRs) who join the company in order to gain valuable experience and to learn from experts in their fields. Below are the EPRs for the 2018/19 Season. Click here for a list of previous EPR classes.


Hannah Shay Anderson (Acting) is a recent graduate of UW-Parkside, where she earned a BA in Theatre Arts with a concentration in acting. Some of her favorite credits there include: A Streetcar a Named Desire (Blanche DuBois), Macbeth (Lady Macbeth), and Angels in America (Rabbi, Hannah, Ethel, and Henry). Before graduation, she had the opportunity to intern with Renaissance Theaterworks in Top Girls (understudy, Marlene) and The Shakespeare Project of Chicago in their presentation of Much Ado about Nothing (Margaret). She has trained with the Society of American Fight Directors, passing with recommendation in Rapier & Dagger and Unarmed. Hannah feels incredibly honored and grateful to be given this opportunity to work with Milwaukee Rep as an EPR, and she’d like to thank the many talented artists and mentors over the years whose skill and collaborative efforts challenged, humbled and inspired her.

Sadé Ayodele (Acting) is a recent graduate of the University of California at Riverside’s Theatre, Film, and Digital Production program and is very excited to be embarking on the next chapter of her career as a Milwaukee Rep Emerging Professional Resident. She has played Teiresias in Antigone and Sebastian in The Little Mermaid—but she plays women, too (promise!). When she isn’t pretending to be someone else on stage, she likes to dance and write short stories. Following her time with Milwaukee Rep, she looks forward to pursuing an MFA in acting. She would like to extend a sincere thank you to you for being a part of her creative growth and journey.

Sam Bravo's (Acting) credits include: The Western Stage: Robert Martin, The Drowsy Chaperone. Pacific Conservatory Theatre: Spike, Vanya & Sonia & Masha & Spike; Jehan/Ensemble, The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Count Carl-Magnus, A Little Night Music (Conservatory Rep); Reverend John Hale (understudy), The Crucible; Parker, Freaky Friday; Spot Conlon, Newsies; Ed Carmichael (understudy), You Can’t Take It with You; Ed Hanby/Ensemble, Winesburg (Conservatory Project). Other Theatres: Point Loma Opera Theatre: Ko Ko, The Mikado; Tony, The Most Happy Fella; Ensemble, Cendrillion; Bohdi Tree Concerts: Sir Joseph Porter, H.M.S. Pinafore. Training: BA, Point Loma Nazarene University; Pacific Conservatory of the Performing Arts. 

Blake Dava (Acting) joins Milwaukee Repertory Theater as a 2018 Ohio University graduate with a BFA in Acting Performance and a BA in Strategic Communications. Prior to coming to Milwaukee, Blake played Lysander in A Midsummer Night’s Dream (Tantrum Theater). Highlights of his time at Ohio University include The Last Days of Judas Iscariot (El-Fayoumy), The Ladies Man (Etienne), Stop Kiss (George), and Urinetown (Tiny Tom, Dr. Billeaux), along with several new plays in development including A Driving Beat, The Undetected Deaths of Cardinals in the Park, and What Life Stole from Me.

Jose Galvan (Directing) is one of the directors in Milwaukee Rep’s 2018/19 Emerging Professional Residency. He is an Associate Member of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, an alumnus of Directors Lab West, and graduate of the University of San Diego. He was the first ever Artistic/Literary Intern at the Old Globe. Directing credits include Heridas Graves En El Parque De Juegos (San Diego Rep), Adam & Evie (self-produced), Supers (Cygnet), Gruesome Playground Injuries, Buried Child (USD). Assistant Directing credits include Kill Local (La Jolla Playhouse), The Blameless, Tokyo Fish Story (Old Globe), The Kid Thing, Brownsville Song, Orange Julius (Moxie), Eurydice (USD). He is a two-time recipient of the KCACTF Meritorious Achievement Award and inaugural inductee of USD’s Chapter of Alpha Psi Omega National Honor Theatre Society. He trained at the Meisner/Chekhov Integrated Studio. He studied contemporary dance at Culture Shock Dance Studio.

Justin Jones (Acting) is thrilled to join Milwaukee Rep as an Emerging Professional Resident this season! Originally from New York City, Justin is a graduate of the LaGuardia High School Drama Department and Williams College, where he was a double major in History and Chinese. Some of his favorite roles at LaGuardia and Williams include: Reverend Hale in The Crucible, Adham in The Hour of Feeling, Bernard Nightingale in Arcadia, and Horatio in Hamlet. Justin has also been seen on "Law and Order: SVU" and in the film The Express, and is an alumnus of Teach for America. In his free time, he loves watching baseball, learning about aviation and listening to country music.

Ismael Lara (Director) is a director, teacher, and community organizer from Southeast Texas. His selected directing credits include: workshop production of And All the Dead Lie Down by Harrison David Rivers (Convergence-Continuum), Aunt Leaf (Cleveland Play House- Theatre Academy), The Mint Play (Cleveland Public Theatre), The Story of Mr. Not So Well (Playwrights Local), and Assistant Director for The Family Claxon (Cleveland Public Theatre, World Premiere), Oreo Carrot Danger at (FaultLine Theatre Company, San Francisco, World Premiere), The Tempest and The Winter’s Tale at San Francisco Shakespeare Festival, The Mountain King (World Premiere), and the Texas premiere of Adam Syzmkowicz’s play Clown Bar.

Jessica Ma (Acting) is so excited to be a part of Milwaukee Rep’s 2018 Emerging Professional Residency program! Originally from Dallas, Jessica is a recent graduate of Southern Methodist University with a BFA in Acting. Recent productions include: Crystal in Bethany, Mrs. Oxenham in The Hot l Baltimore, and Gloria/Mother Teresa in The Last Days of Judas Iscariot. Jessica is also a solo-performance artist with her most recent work entitled Lotus Blossoms Don’t Cry: Lamentations of an Asian Savage. In her free time, she enjoys writing, listening to music and hiking.

Nima Rakhshanifar (Acting) is an actor in The Rep’s Emerging Professional Residency. Other credits include: Pacific Conservatory Theatre, California (since 2017): Ensemble, Freaky Friday; John Proctor (understudy), The Crucible; Jehan, The Hunchback of Notre Dame; Pepper, Mamma Mia; PCPA Conservatory: Dick Daldry, In the Next Room or the vibrator play; Coriolanus, Coriolanus. Other Theatres: South Bay Musical Theatre: Link Larkin, Hairspray; Sunnyvale Community Players: Ensemble, Evita. Nima trained at PCPA in Santa Maria, CA with a special interest in circus and Contact Improv. Playing instruments such as zarb and daf, Nima started performing at the age of four in the Iranian Youth Orchestra. Nima is from San Jose, California.

Isabella Reeder (Acting) is delighted to be a part of Milwaukee Rep’s EPR program! She recently completed her training at the University of Utah’s Actor Training Program, where she had the great opportunity to work as an intern at one of Salt Lake’s major regional theatre companies, Pioneer Theatre Company. Additionally, Isabella was also fortunate enough to have spent a year abroad studying acting at the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland, where she enjoyed an (over) abundance of fried foods at the local chippies and learned to always count on a lovely rainy day. Recent credits include Twelfth Night and King Charles III (Pioneer Theatre); The Final Debate (Plan-B Theatre Company); Love’s Labour’s Lost (University of Utah). Many thanks to family and friends for all their love and support!

Michael J. Wu (Acting) is a professionally trained actor who has been working passionately for five years and continues to drive for excellence in his artistry. He has studied at the Pacific Conservatory of Performing Arts under the direction of Roger DeLaurier, along with attendance at masterclasses with Derrick Lee Weeden, Faith Prince, Natasha Hause and Vincent Rodriguez III. His performances include such shows as Twelfth Night, Freaky Friday: The Musical, The Crucible, and Superior Donuts. He has recently closed the show Coriolanus as Tullus Aufidius, where he also assisted the fight choreographer, Peter Hadres, in choreographing the fights. Michael is an Air Force veteran, loves animals, and is a lover, not a fighter. (But he is also a fighter, so don’t get any ideas.) He is excited to be in Milwaukee this year.