Meet the Participants
Franziska Lee (she/they) is a rising senior studying English & Comparative Literature and Ethnicity & Race Studies at Columbia University. During the school year, she serves as a staff editor on 4 x 4 Literary Magazine and the Columbia Journal of Literary Criticism. She was previously the summer 2023 Artistic & Literary Intern at PlayCo.
Daria Yashnyk (she/her) is a rising senior studying Theatre Arts and Media Communications at Drew University. She has starred in Ukrainian movies such as "The Sixties" and "Cult". Daria is extremely excited to be a part of PlayCo as a Marketing Intern.
Daria Yashnyk, joining PlayCo this summer as the Marketing Intern, wanted to be an actor at seven years old: “I think I saw Selena Gomez on a TV screen. And I was like, I need to be there.”
A dancer from the age of four, she has always loved the freedom that comes from playing a part. “I’m alive when I'm on the stage and I can be someone who I'm not. I'm afraid of public speaking. And that's so weird for an actor, because everyone is like, ‘What? You’re an actor, you need to speak freely.’” But it’s different—in public speaking, “I'm presenting myself. Whereas on the stage I'm presenting someone else.”
As a teenager in Ukraine, Daria acted in productions of Frozen and Beauty and the Beast. “I didn’t like it, playing princess, because—well, it's easy for me. In Beauty and the Beast, I was the candle. I was like, ‘No, I don't want to do the candle’—but you need to just enjoy doing those weird things with a French accent. So it was cool. But comedy is hard.” At Drew University, where she’s going into her senior year, she’s enjoyed playing more volatile, interesting characters. Recently, she played Nina in The Seagull. She particularly enjoyed doing Nina’s final scene, where she says that she’s a seagull and starts hearing voices. “You’re free to do anything, and no one is going to judge you, because the character allows you to do that.
“That was one of my favorite roles,” she says. “And afterwards, I was also playing some volatile characters.” Going forward, she’s interested in similar dramatic, psychologically complex roles.
Daria has also starred in two Ukrainian movies, one of which was an experimental film shot only on a smartphone, and required thirty-two hours of shooting in the desert. “Those films were mostly shown in the old theaters, and those buildings were over a hundred years old, and it was so cool going there and then you see your face. But I actually never watch my work—I can’t even sit and look for five minutes.”
In another universe, Daria might be doing fashion design. Her outfits are bold and impeccably curated. Most of her clothing comes from Ukrainian brands and designers. “When I was ten, I would buy stuff from the US and have it delivered to Ukraine. But now the quality, the price, the designs—I’m obsessed with the Ukrainian brands.” Although she studied costume design for three months at Drew, she’s found she prefers fashion in the everyday.
Daria’s learned a lot during her internship so far: “I feel confident right now with what I'm doing, and I really like it. I gained some knowledge.” She’s found that, despite her fear of public speaking, she likes the weekly staff meetings, particularly the Community/Communications check-ins, where she usually talks more. “I realized how confident I am in this kind of atmosphere, with the people surrounding me. I’ve been impressed by my attitude towards that.” To anyone interested in interning for PlayCo, she recommends talking to people and putting aside the fear of asking questions or being underqualified.
Besides theater, Daria’s minor is in Marketing and Communication. The PlayCo internship, which she heard about through Drew University’s theater department, is a dream position, combining both her artistic and practical interests. Coming into it, she wants to learn the structure of theater companies, “how they operate from the inside and from the marketing perspective,” how they function—“all of those things that most people in their everyday life don't know. And also connecting with people. I'm meeting some cool people here that I wouldn't see or meet just on the streets of New York.”