The big, troublesome question for local artists—"What the hell are you doing in Seattle?"—seems to go double for actors. Even if you allow for the quality of work available here, the relatively small volume makes it increasingly difficult for a performer with ambition to make a career of any meaningful description.

Stranger Genius Award nominee Emily Chisholm, increasingly prominent on stages and screens in town, has a list of reasons why she remains in Seattle, including the community that has nurtured and mentored her, the great work she has been able to do thus far, and the knowledge that another city would be just as difficult to break into without rewarding the kind of creative risks her Seattle milieu thrives on.

"I'm doing everything I can to make this work," she says. And if that means keeping a day job (or two), it pays off in other ways.

"Last year, I was overlapping two shows," she recalls. "I was rehearsing Outside Mullingar at the Rep while I was performing The Flick with New City Theater company in the evenings. Two very different pieces, two very different directors. They were long days: an eight-hour rehearsal and then a three-hour show at night. And it was pure bliss for me. The material was fantastic, and the directors were great. While it was challenging to maintain that kind of schedule, I was just so happy to be able to feel like I was totally used up and effective at the same time. And also that I was learning something." recommended

Emily Chisholm will be celebrated at the Stranger Genius Awards party on September 24 at the Moore Theatre. Five artists will leave with $5,000, thanks to our generous sponsors. To see all 15 nominees, go to