A multi-hyphenate is an artist who has multiple proficiencies that cross pollinate to help flourish professional capabilities.
My personal hyphens include performance, photography, producing, and writing. In doing so, I am able to use my income to influence each aspect of my artistic identity.
I’ve always done many things in the theatre industry. As someone who has been in the industry for 20 years, even though I am only 29, I wanted to explore and hone all the different things that make me a well rounded artist.
Multi-hyphenation takes courage, mistakes, identity, and risk. At first I thought I could only be an actor, but quickly learned pigeon-holing myself was the death of possibility. Imagine if Lin Manuel Miranda decided he was just an actor. I decided to throw spaghetti against the wall, and it turns out, a lot sticks.
It’s never too early to start finding an artistic identity. It takes a long time as there is so much to discover and we never stop learning. Friends, I am the CEO of my own artistic career. My hyphens aren’t my hobbies. I make living off of what I do without the need of a survival job. In 2020, the need to use all of your proficiencies is important for an artist because creativity becomes boundless.
It takes the right tools to be a multi-hyphenate, and I have all the little goodies to pass around. I’m like the Dolly Levi of artistic freedom. Multi-hyphenation, is like manure. It's not worth a thing unless it's spread around, encouraging young things to grow.
As artists, we are often bogged down with negativity, and negativity never helps me see the end goal. And now with life shifting after CoVid-19, there seems to be a reset button pressed on all of us. But NOW is the time to meld manifestation and multi-hyphenation. Try it all. Do it well. Start it now.
And now it’s my turn to give it back to you. Even while the industry is shut down, we as artists are not. We adapt and continue to tell our stories… but how? How do we carry on when it seems like there’s nothing happening. We are like lava - and even though the volcano isn’t active, we are still below the surface waiting to explode.
So - coach with me! Take my class! Listen to my podcast! Follow my inspiring Instagram! I am here, a useful tool for you to keep working. No one can tell you when to create - only you can. Follow that voice. Follow that impulse. Follow your heart.
Michael Kushner is NYC’s leading multi-hyphenate and the Executive Producer of the EMMY Nominated series Indoor Boys. Performance: On the Town at Barrington Stage (Pre Broadway, Directed by John Rando), Much Ado About Nothing at Barrington Stage (Directed by Julie Boyd), Sons on the Prophet at GableStage (Directed by Joe Adler). He is the creator of his one man show, Moo With Me (Directed by Max Crumm). In June of 2021, Michael’s one person musical cabaret Michael Kushner Sings His Hits for Pride was part of 54 Below’s reopening programming as the industry opens after the CoVid-19 pandemic.
Photography: Featured in The NYTimes, Vogue, The Tony Awards, Playbill, and more. Creator of The Dressing Room Project. Michael has photographed Idina Menzel, Julie Andrews, and many more notable artists. Producing: Emmy Nominated web series, Indoor Boys, created by Wes Taylor and Alex Wyse, XaveMePlease, starring Isaac Powell, (Frameline43 Festival in San Fran). Michael is one of the founding members of Musical Theatre Factory, currently in residency with Playwrights Horizons, and was awarded the first ever MTF Builder Award. Michael produced and directed (as well as performed in) the sold out evening of 54 Celebrates Mel Brooks, starring Richard Kind, Veanne Cox, and more. Upcoming Producing: The Pink Unicorn, a film starring Alice Ripley, written by Elise Forier Edie.
During CoVid-19, Michael has stayed active in the theatre community by serving as Director of Photography and producing virtual events such as Moments in the Woods (A Virtual Gala for the HFWAA featuring Lin-Manuel Miranda, nominated for a BroadwayWorld Award), Betsy Wolfe’s A Pants Optional Holiday, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play featuring The Skivvies with Laguna Playhouse, and Leslie Kritzer’s Holiday Show for The Actors’ Home. Active participant with Covenant House. In 2020, Michael served as 2020 KeyNote speaker for Florida Thespians.
www.michaelkushneronline.com or www.michaelkushnerphotography.com. Podcasts: Dear Multi-Hyphenate and My Broadway Memory with Broadway Podcast Network. Proud AEA Member. Ithaca College BFA Musical Theatre. @themichaelkushner on IG and TikTok.