Debra De Liso is a faculty member at the USC School of Dramatic Arts. She is a critically acclaimed and award-winning actor, writer, director is the recipient of the Rainbow Award from the LA Women’s Theatre Festival for her decades of work in forgotten communities, including artists with disabilities, institutionalized teens and incarcerated women. She has guided the presentation of over 500 original solo plays and remains passionate about supporting playwrights in developing new works. Her solo play collaborations have premiered in festivals in NYC, Germany, and Scotland.
After receiving three California Arts Council Grants to teach acting and playwriting in a medium security prison, she learned to see the art in the individual. De Liso delights in providing a supportive and nourishing environment to elevate the highest potential in each artist.
Her own writing into performance work includes a solo play about Isadora Duncan, a one-person play about her disabled mom, The Nurse June Show, and Beautiful, Terrifying, Love about the struggle to maintain unconditional love in dealing with family addiction and mental illness.
De Liso also enjoys developing and directing several web series and film projects with her students. She taught a very essential class “Directing Actors” at LA Film School, encouraging new film makers to collaborate with performers.
De Liso studied at the Royal National Theatre in London, and won a Fellowship to earn her MFA at UCLA. She also continues to learn so much from her students at USC, and at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She employs a variety of acting techniques including her own master’s thesis, “The Physicalization of a Role,” based on her approach to finding grounded and specific characterization, and listen with the body. Debra believes the actor should have the mindset of an athlete, as she was a competitive gymnast and the Chair of the LACHSA Physical Ed department for eight years, now she practices hatha and kundalini yoga.