A born star
Alexis Fishman. Photo: Kurt Sneddon
Alexis Fishman performing on stage, six months pregnant with her daughter.
From Aus to NYC

A born star

Described as ‘sensational’ and ‘energetic’, Alexis Fishman has an enormous stage presence. The actor, singer and writer shared her story with The AJN ahead of her performance at the JNF annual event.

Main image by Alexis Fishman performing on stage, six months pregnant with her daughter.

Alexis Fishman was always going to be a star. From the moment she picked up an instrument and started singing, the wow factor was clear.

Fishman attended the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts (WAAPA), but she credits Moriah College for nourishing her love of all things entertainment.

“Moriah was truly an incredible place to be a student with a love of the performing arts,” she told The AJN while in Sydney to perform at the JNF fundraiser.

“To me it felt like it was a performing arts school within a modern Orthodox Jewish day school. I definitely credit a lot of who I am as an artist to the amazing arts education that I got there.”

Fishman played the trumpet in several different bands, sang in the vocal group, performed in music festivals, drama festivals, Shakespeare festivals and dance troupe.

She said her time in the music program also inspired her love of New York City – her other home.

Fishman was part of the inaugural school band tour, visiting various places around the US, including New York.

“I fell in love with the place then, and this dream to live there was born. My dreams really have come true,” she said.

Fishman is now a dual citizen, something she says she never could have imagined when she was visiting as a teenager, with an American husband and a “half American, half Australian beautiful baby girl”.

She said her immersive education at WAAPA helped her form friendships and relationships with some of her closest friends.

“It was the first time that I was outside of the Jewish community in a real way, living on my own in Perth,” she recalled.

“The friendships and connections that I made there hold today … and the networks that I have because of what I had there, have helped me tremendously.”

But it was playing young Mary O’Brien in Dusty the Musical that she describes as a “truly lucky break”.

“There was just so many things that came together in my favour with that whole experience. From getting the role and being right for the role, through to the impact that the role had in the greater production and how successful the show was. All those things led to me being able to make a splash in the industry soon after I graduated from school, which was hugely, hugely lucky,” she explained.

“And I do say lucky because obviously there’s a level of talent that anybody needs in order to be successful on the stage, but so much of it comes down to luck, and I really had a big lightning strike with that one.

“It was an amazing experience that moved me into the professional realm.”

Fishman recalled performing in Dusty, which received rave reviews. Describing “the second night blues” as feeling a little flat compared to the hype and excitement of opening night, Fishman explained she never really experienced that reaction.

“I remember being equally as excited because it suddenly struck me that oh my gosh, they’re paying me to do this. This is now my job. It was pretty awesome,” she said.

Fishman was nominated for a Helpmann Award for her performance, and went on to star in some of Australia’s biggest musicals including Shout! and Kiss of the Spiderwoman.

She is also the creator of six solo cabaret shows, including one dedicated to Amy Winehouse, which she spent months writing and developing, employing a voice coach to help emulate Winehouse’s distinctive sound and vocal range. For one show in New York, she was joined by Amy’s father, Mitch, who she believes is quite moved that Amy’s music is being kept alive.

Fishman explained that for her, like many other performers, splitting her time between Sydney and New York became difficult throughout 2020 and 2021.

“COVID was devastating from a work perspective, as it was for many, many people in my industry, and of course across many others. It was actually scheduled to be the best work year that I’d had in a number of years.

“I was supposed to play Tzeitel in [Opera Australia’s] Yiddish-language production of Fiddler on the Roof… I was supposed to do a cruise gig. I had a booking of one of my solo shows down in Melbourne. And of course, all of that didn’t happen, unfortunately,” she explained.

“I was actually in Sydney when it happened. I’d flown home to do the audition for Fiddler on the Roof. And the morning after I had received a call from my agent to say that I booked the job, my husband called from New York to say that there was a COVID case where we live in Westchester.”

Luckily, Fishman has managed to travel back and forth to Australia.

Now, she’s in Sydney and very excited to perform at the JNF annual event.

“It’s a wonderful, wonderful organisation that I have long been a supporter of, and to be able to offer my talents in this way is a huge honour.”

Alexis Fishman will be performing at the JNF annual event on Tuesday, September 6. For more information and tickets, visit jnf.org.au/nsw-night-of-play

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