I was born and raised in sunny Sarasota (but with my ginger complexion I choose to stay out of the sun). My mom is a singer / actress and my father, a pianist. Given my upbringing, a path in the performing arts was pretty well set. In my youth, we spent our summers in upstate New York where my parents performed as “The Fabulous Ohs” (last name is Ohrenstein). If you’ve seen Dirty Dancing, you can envision my bohemian existence.
Since obtaining a BA in Theatre Arts from the University of Miami, I’ve performed professionally and in community theatre across southwest Florida, including places like Florida Studio Theatre, American Stage, St. Petersburg Opera Company, Players Theatre, Venice Theatre, and Asolo Rep.
I am also very involved in the film scene, where I was recently featured in the latest from filmmaker Kevin Smith. I wrote, produced and starred in a short film, 50 Words, shot in Sarasota, Florida and featuring over 100 actors and extras. It’s was an official selection of the Sarasota Film Festival in 2018 and named BEST FLORIDA FILM by the Bonita Springs International Film Festival. My follow up short film, HER PLACE, has also been named BEST FLORIDA FILM (2020).
When I am not on stage, you may find me doing freelance marketing work and creating videos for my YouTube channel.
Some fun facts:
- I’ve tossed a football with Dan Marino (Papa John’s commercial)
- I’ve hiked across the country of Israel (really, from one side to the other).
- Graduated 6th in my high school class (smart too!)
- My brother, Abe, is a 4th degree blackbelt in karate
- I’ve danced in a McLaren convertible across Sarasota’s Ringling Bridge at sunset (see my “Get Happy” video)
- My husband, Jonathan Parks, is the most amazing architect in the world. Check out his website: Solstice Architects.
Kathryn Parks is an award-winning filmmaker who has been honored with the Ladies in Film and Entertainment award by the Sunshine City Film Festival – honoring the top women in the film and entertainment industry in the Tampa Bay area. Her two short films, 50 WORDS and HER PLACE, have both received the honor of BEST FLORIDA FILM. Her first short, 50 WORDS, was an official selection of fifteen film festivals including Sarasota, Rendezvous, and Women Behind Television and Film. Awards for her second film, HER PLACE, include Best Local Film, Best of Festival, Best Actress, and Best First-Time Director and was screened at the Sarasota Film Festival, Sunscreen, and Palm Springs International LGBTQ. Also an accomplished singer and stage actress, Kathryn has worked at Florida Studio Theatre, Asolo Rep, St. Petersburg Opera, West Coast Black Theatre Troupe, Venice Theatre, and regularly with FST Improv. Favorite stage roles include CAT ON A HOT TIN ROOF (Maggie), VIOLET (Violet), and KING AND I (Anna). She was recognized with a Handy Award by the Sarasota Herald Tribune and her voice has been called “sparkling” by Scene Magazine while the Bradenton Herald has described her as “portraying genuine star power”. Kathryn has a BA in Theatre Arts from University of Miami. Her husband, Jonathan Parks AIA, is a national award-winning architect. Kathryn strives to create work that showcases the beauty and talent of her hometown, Sarasota, Florida. KathrynParks.com
1 When did the acting bug first bite you? I’m fairly certain I was born with the acting gene. My father, David Ohrenstien, is a professional pianist, and my mother, Sharon Lesley, is a professional singer. During my childhood, they performed all around the country as “The Fabulous Ohs.”
2 Did their careers influence your desire to be a performer? Definitely! Growing up, the performing arts were really all that I knew. I thought it was perfectly normal that dinner parties turned into performances, dads played the piano to accompany their daughter’s ballet classes, and all moms had dozens of sequined gowns in their closets.
3 What was your first acting experience? My first play was in the fourth grade, and it all came very naturally to me. It was like discovering that I was fluent in another language and other people were speaking it with me. After that, I performed constantly and went on to study musical theater.
4 Do you plan to pursue a career in theater or film—or both? My goal is to continue doing challenging work, no matter the medium. I tend to throw myself in any project, whether it’s film, theater, or modeling. My only obstacle is finding time to sleep!
5 Who are some of you artistic heroes? Julie Andrews: I still want to be just like her. Sutton Foster: she can sing, dance, act, and entertain like nobody else. George Gershwin: his melodies transport me to another place. My parents: now that I’m older, I marvel at how they could make money with their art and still raise three children.
6 How do you approach your characters? Once I have the script, I break down my scenes to discover my character’s objectives. Then, I do all sorts of research about the creation of the show, iconic performers who’ve played the role, and factual details about the script’s time and place. If I’m doing an accent, I spend a lot of time learning the dialect. And, finally, I’ll work with my voice teachers on the music. I record all my sessions and practice with them at home ad nauseam. My cat hates singing!
7 Advice to young people contemplating a performing arts career? I think you can follow your dreams wherever you are. It’s not about expecting fate to intervene or believing that one path is the right way. It’s about challenging yourself every day, working with dedication and integrity, and investing in the people you care about. When you do that, the doors leading to your dreams start opening all on their own.