Actress/comedian Ruthy Otero smiles when she thinks about her old Bronx neighborhood. It’s not only in her memories but it’s a vital part of her new one-woman show, “Dancing with my Demons,” launching in Los Angeles in August. “I still live pretty close to where I grew up, so it’s not just in the past. It’s there almost every day, if I think about it. How crazy is that?” asked Otero, who today divides her time between Los Angeles and New York.
With her upcoming one-woman show, a new online series called “Fratitude” and a newly-launched national commercial for Scotch Brite brand, and two other national ads for Baby Bell Cheese and Comcast now playing, Otero is breaking out in a big way as she crosses over from standup comedy into television and films. It was her experience with Betty White on the TV show “Off Their Rockers” that gave Otero the inspiration to not give up on pursing her dream of becoming a household name.
“Betty White is at the height of her career at an age when most actors are long forgotten” says Otero. “She was so present, friendly and gracious on set. Not a diva at all. When I asked to take a picture with her, she suggested we move near the window for better lighting and wrapped her arm around me. She changed my perspective on who I thought I had to be to be in order to achieve success in this industry.”
It wasn’t that long ago that Otero was mulling over whether she should stay in New York or head to Hollywood to take a stab at becoming a comedic actress. “I have my roots in the Bronx. My family and friends are here so I had to think for a long time whether I wanted to really go after that dream or keep working here. In the end, I went for it, then came back, then I went again,” she said with a laugh.
Leaving a career as a standup comedian with a big following was a constant fear for Otero until she decided that she would divide her time between the cities while continuing to perform her popular act at local comedy clubs. With her vivacious on-stage presence and quirky style, Otero entertained audiences by taking on the issues many people would rather ignore. Mental illness, ethnic shame, sexuality and religion are just some the topics she tackles in her standup shows.
“My intention is always to hold up a mirror to the audience, so to speak, in order to allow them to see the humor in the ridiculousness of being human,” she said.Her one-woman show “Dancing with my Demons” is one example of that. It deals directly with the feelings and sometimes odd characters that filled much of her days growing up in the Bronx.
“That’s what makes the show fun. Who would have thought my life was a comedy suitable for the stage?” Having graduated from New York University Tisch School of the Arts with distinction, Otero studied acting with Marlon Brando’s acting teacher, Stella Adler who encouraged her students to create their own projects.
“I took her advice and ran with it. I had plenty of material to draw from, if you know what I mean,” she quipped. While she prepares for her solo shows and her online series, Otero is getting lots of exposure with her latest national commercials from Scotch Brite and Baby Bell Cheese now airing across the country.
“I love working on films and television, but being in front of an audience and putting yourself out there every night is unlike anything,” she said. “It’s exhilarating and terrifying at the same time. But I love it!”