Troy Kotsur has been acting and directing for over 20 years, winning multi-awards along the way. Deaf since birth, he was raised in Mesa, Arizona. Troy graduated from Westwood High School and went to Gallaudet University, were he playing basketball from 1987 to 1989. In 1990 he left to become a professional actor with the National Theatre of the Deaf/Deaf West Theatre and a freelance-director.
Troy’s first film project was a short that he wrote and directed called Got Matches, which premiered at the Toronto International Deaf Film Festival. His other film work includes Ray’s Potion, The Eye, and True West, a film that he starred in as well as directed. In 2013 Troy directed his first feature length film, Super Deafy: No Ordinary Hero. He is attached to direct an independent film called Deaf Ghost, filming next year.
As an actor, Troy has had success in both film and television. His guest starring roles include but are not limited to, Scrubs, CSI: NY, Criminal Minds, and Sue Thomas F.B.Eye, a show where he had a recurring role and was a fan favorite. In film, Troy has had strong supporting roles in The Number 23 with Jim Carey, Father’s Day Breakfast, and Universal Signs. Troy will play the leading role in the upcoming film, Inside Track.
Troy’s stage performing credits include the Tony-Award winning Big River on Broadway. He has had starring roles in in Pippen at the Mark Taper Forum, Deaf West Theatre’s production of Spring Awakening (2015 Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Award, Nominee – Best Production), American Buffalo at Cal State University Los Angeles, Cyrano at Deaf West/Fountain Theaters, (2013 Winner of seven Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle Awards including Best Actor), A Streetcar Named Desire, (2001 LA Weekly Award, LA Drama Critics Award), and Of Mice and Men (1994 Lenny-Best Actor, LA Weekly). Troy will next be seen on stage in Edward Albee’s At Home at the Zoo at the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and in a production of American Buffalo in Ohio.
Troy is currently studying writing and directing with Luca Ceccarelli of the Director’s Edge in Hollywood, California.
Tara Samuel hails from Toronto Canada, where she was classically-trained at George Brown theatre school, and began her career on the professional stage. She is most widely known for her television role “Tara Williams” in Sue Thomas: F.B.Eye. which continues to air around the world. Other television credits: The Mindy Project, The Neddeaus, The Division, Beachwood Charter, Singled Out, The Bold & The Beautiful, Twice In A Lifetime, Killer Deal.
She received a Best Actress Award from the Manhattan International Film Festival, for her role “Ruby” in the film Ruby Booby. Other film credits: Tiger Orange, Way Down In Chinatown, Hunt the Maguffin, The Interview, The Rwanda Blend, Tanya & Gary, Prairie Sonata, The Drain, The Third Eye.
As a filmmaker, Tara wrote, directed, produced and starred in FIND (The Journal of Short Film) which screened at festivals around the world; was nominated Best Narrative Short at the Oscar-qualifying Austin Film Festival. Also as producer-actor: Ruby Booby, dir. Jon Rannells, The Rwanda Blend, dir. Sam Zvibleman, and Prairie Sonata, directed by longtime collaborator Deborah LaVine.
Tara’s screenwriting credits include Find, Last Wish and Karen Of God, and she is co-founder of both Busterhouse Productions and of the notorious Los Angeles indie film collective www.wemakemovies.org As story-consultant, Tara is CEO of www.sriptkicker.com and is published in Movie Maker Magazine online. In 2014, Tara was honored at the LA Business Journal’s Women Making A Difference Symposium & Awards for her notable work in the Los Angeles filmmaking community.
Suanne Spoke has an extensive career in theatre, television, film and the class room. In theatre she has been recognized for her work as both an actress and as a producer, re-envisioning classic works and helming West Coast & National premieres. Suanne was most recently seen at the Fountain Theatre in the West Coast premiere of Athol Fugard’s “The Painted Rocks at Revolver Creek”, named by the LA Times as one of the 10 best plays of 2015. She has been seen on innumerable stages and has won every major acting and producing award given in Los Angeles; a three time recipient of the prestigious Ovation Award for Lead Performance by an Actress, the Los Angeles Drama Critics Circle award for both Best Production (Producer) and Best Actress, the LA Weekly Award for Best Production (Producer/Actress) and the Backstage Garland Award for Best Actress and many other nominations, honorable mentions and acknowledgements over her 30 year career on the stage.
Suanne continues to cultivate a career in front of the camera as well, appearing in over 100 television episodes and feature films. She recurs on “Switched at Birth”, appears in a very special feature on the DVD release for season 4 of “Once Upon a Time”, and will be seen in Christopher Guest’s new film “Mascots” and upcoming in three independent films “Wild Prairie Rose”, “Mom” and “Dumped”.
She currently serves on the faculty of the prestigious California Institute of the Arts in the Film Directing Program and is also a faculty member for Deaf West Theatre’s Summer School Program. She has served as a juror for the Newport Beach Film Festival and the Austin Film Festival.
Deanne Bray has received rave reviews since she burst onto the scene in her critically acclaimed starring role as Sue Thomas in the award winning television series Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye. She then brought a new legion of fans to her work when she was a regular on the NBC hit show Heroes where she played the role of ‘hero’ Emma. Heroes director SJ Clarkson said about working with Deanne, “She’s spectacular. Her natural instincts are right on when she performs.” Heroes Executive Producer Dennis Hammer says, “she’s an extraordinary actress. Her talent and heart have made us all proud.”
Ms. Bray is now known within the Hollywood industry and beyond as someone who brings honesty, depth, and her own unique charm to her growing list of roles. She has also done work for Disney, Paramount, HBO, Sony, CBS, ABC, and NBC as well as having been a stalwart performer at the prestigious Deaf West Theatre and CTG Theater Group, earning accolades and awards for her performances.
For Deanne, working in Hollywood is a bit like coming home. As a little girl she grew up riding her bike around studio lots while her single father worked as a lighting technician. Little did she know she’d end up being in front of the camera.
Perhaps Sue Thomas: F.B. Eye creator, writer, and executive producer Dave Alan Johnson summed up the experience of working with Deanne Bray when he said, “Deanne is simply the best actress and nicest person I’ve worked with in my twenty years of writing, producing, and directing in Hollywood. She’s one of a kind and no one should ever put limits on what she can do. I can’t wait to see what she does next.”
Courtney Jones was born and raised in northern California. She studied at the American Conservatory Theatre in the Studio program in San Francisco, and with the acclaimed acting teacher Robert X. Modica at Carnegie Hall in New York City. She currently studies with Sharon Chatten at the Sharon Chatten Studio in Los Angeles.
Some of her previous credits include a recurring role on All My Children, Friends with Benefits for Fox TV, Stupid Face/Bad Dad on Fuel TV, I’m with the Band on the Disney Channel and NTSF-SUV-San Diego on Adult Swim/Comedy Central. Films such as, Nightfall, the short Look at Me, Pandora Machine where she portrayed Isabella Von Liechtenstein, a trophy wife who murdered her husband and got away with it, Beautiful Kid, Slider, Thor with Marvel Studios as an Asgardian Goddess, J. Edger directed by Clint Eastwood, the short film she co-wrote and produced titled Forget You, Fortune Cooky that competed at the International Athens Film Festival in the short films program about love. She has appeared in numerous commercials and theatre productions in San Francisco, New York and Los Angeles.
Wild Prairie Rose is the second project she has worked on with director, Deborah Lavine. She previously lent her ADR skills to Deborah’s short film, Prairie Sonata.
Maya Brattkus started acting in 8th grade when her theatre teacher, Tim Wright, cast her as Haydee Sanabria in With Their Eyes. Since then she has played many diverse roles such as Kay Banks in Father of the Bride, Ismene in Antigone, Annelle Dupuee DeSoto in Steel Magnolias, Little Jesus Girl in The Pillowman and the Ash Girl in The Ash Girl. She has worked with James Franco in the collaborative theatre piece Paradise at the California Institute of the Arts (CalArts), and she has acted in several student films.
Maya is pursuing her BFA in Acting at CalArts and has written and acted in to two plays in the New Works Festival. She was named a California Scholar of the Arts and has studied Shakespeare at the British American Drama Academy’s Midsummer in Oxford. Currently Maya can be seen on stage at Theatricum Botanicum in The Crucible and The Chalk Garden. Wild Prairie Rose is Maya’s first feature film.
ACTOR/DALE Samuel has been studying film and theatre in Los Angeles and Minneapolis since his early teens. His studies included the Uta Hagen method primarily, among others. Wild Prairie Rose is his first feature film and he has plans to continue his acting career.
EXECUTIVE PRODUCER & ACTOR/VERNON
Cliff Schulz was born in Le Mars, Iowa, where he grew up and attended college at Westmar University. He was involved in theater and wrestled, NAIA Division II, for two seasons. After college, he spent ten years in the insurance industry in various sales and sales management roles across the U.S. In 1992, he moved from Atlanta to L.A., where he first joined the SAG/AFTRA union as an actor in 1993, while selling insurance in southern California. His most notable appearances include the season seven finale episode of L.A. Law (Hackett or Pack It), Sister Act 2: Back in the Habit and 3 Ninjas Kick Back.
He moved back to Iowa in 1994 where he met his wife, got married, started a family, and eventually settled in the Sioux Falls, SD. area. After a few more years in the insurance industry, he made a career change and spent five years as a Business Development Manager in the commercial banking software industry. In 2002, he took a position as Director of Sales & Marketing for an international manufacturing firm, where he traveled the world. In 2007, Cliff started an insurance brokerage firm in South Dakota that he continues to own and operate.
COSTUME DESIGNER & ACTOR/FLORENCE
Betsy Berenson divided her time in front of and behind the camera on Wild Prairie Rose. Betsy has been designing and building costumes for over 30 years. With a BFA in Theatre Design from West Virginia University, Betsy worked for several years as a dresser and seamstress at the prestigious South Coast Repertory for Mainstage productions of Amadeus, The Seagull, Saint Joan, The Gigli Concert, Galileo, The Debutante Ball and many others, sometimes working singlehandedly as dresser/quick change artist for casts of over 30 actors. After her daughter was born, Betsy designed and dressed many children’s theater productions for Rainbow Kids in Los Angeles, including Fiddler on the Roof, Hello Dolly, A Midsummer Night’s Dream and As You Like It.
Betsy began her stage career in pastoral Pennsylvania, working at the Red Barn Theatre with roles in such plays as Plaza Suite, See How they Run, Charlie Brown and Butterflies are Free. After moving to Los Angeles, Betsy became a member of Pacific Theatre Ensemble, (now Pacific Resident Theatre) and her credits there included a featured role in the acclaimed production of Jamie Baker’s South Central Rain and an adaptation of Dorothy Parker’s Here We Are. This is her first role in a feature film.
Donne McRae is pleased to join her favorite collaborator, Deborah LaVine, on the Wild Prairie Rose adventure. Donne has also been seen in feature films Arc and The Trouble with Lou and short films Manatee, Jack the Snipper and Blessing House. She has worked several times with Ms. LaVine on stage, notably in The Accomplices, True West and A Streetcar Named Desire.