Despite the great strides Ms. Chimo has made in theater, she is barely a blip on the movie screen. Hollywood is still assigning her roles like “Architect #1” (Gods Behaving Badly) and “Secretary” (Cyber). The latter, shot in Los Angeles after Bad Jews closed at the Black Box, is a Michael Mann movie. “I work for Christian Borle in a company that gets hacked. I got to work with Viola Davis, too.”
During Bad Jews’s run at the Laura Pels, she’ll be shooting the second season of her Netflix women’s prison drama, Orange Is the New Black. She plays an underwater welder, one of the few characters not imprisoned. “I have a stunt double doing the underwater-welding, though,” she said. “Actually, when I shoot, I’m in the makeup trailer a long time, because they have to put these great burn scars all over my arms. Apparently, I’m a bad welder.”
Ms. Chimo discovered acting after a knee injury sidelined her from dance at age 17. “I had no idea what I was going to do with myself or my life. Dancing was really all I knew.”
At Sound State College, near Saugus, Mass., where she grew up, it was suggested to her that she try out for the theater department, but they wouldn’t take her. “They said, ‘We think you might be talented, but we can’t really tell, because we can’t understand a word you’re saying.’” So she took dialect lessons, which “taught me how to speak American standard.”
But her foundation in dance shows in her performances. “I know actors who get tripped up by where they’re supposed to go or where they’re supposed to put their body. That’s not an issue for me. Also, it contributes quite a bit to my posture for the different characters I play. Lauren was all hunched over, which I just did naturally because she’s so scared. Regan was loosey-goosey all over the place with her body, popping her hips here and there, because she’s desperately trying to be something that she’s not.”
Before hitting the Bad Jews warpath again, Ms. Chimo has taken on the real-life role of teacher. Along with a friend, Kate Pfaffl, who was the fiddler in War Horse for two years, she is creating a studio called the Workshop.
“I’m coaching kids who come to the city and don’t know anybody and don’t know how the hell they’re going to start and don’t know how they’re going to get a job,” Ms. Chimo said. “That was me for, like, eight years, so I thought I’d have a little side business where I’d get to play with young actors and just have a place in New York where they can come and screw up and play characters they wouldn’t get to play for a few more years and just have them feel safe. Young actors need a place like that.”