native Lori Holton Nash, known to audiences as "Miss
Lori," is PBS KIDSí first live host.
Lori Holton Nash makes her rise to PBS
KIDS fame sound like childís play.
The Wisconsin native ó sheís a
Shorewood High School graduate ó has been acting since she was just
9, when she landed her first role with the Childrenís Theatre of
Madison. "The minute I got it, I didnít stop," she says.
Indeed. At age 12, "Miss
Lori," as the first-ever live host of PBS KIDS is known, became
the youngest scholarship student for classical voice at the Wisconsin
Conservatory of Music.
And even before high school, she
answered the Shorewood Playersí call for auditions for "The
"I really got high up on the
list," says Holton Nash, only to be told, "We canít give
you this part if youíre not in college or an adult."
Not one to be deterred, Holton Nash,
now 37, wound up working at The Skylight in Milwaukee, the former Next
Generation Theatre and the old Melody Top, all while still in her
teens. "Youíve got to go after your dreams," she says.
For her, that meant auditioning for
"The Mystery of Edwin Drood" in New York. "I went to
New York just to feel what it would be like. I was just turning 18.
"They cast me in that tour,"
Her next dream was the Boston
Conservatory, where she earned a bachelorís in musical theater, with
honors. But New York beckoned again.
"I was asked to be a part of Hush
Productions. Ultimately, I realized the music business wasnít the
route I wanted to go," she says.
Neither was television. "L.A. and
I werenít good friends," she says. "Youíre asked to be a
bimbo unless proven otherwise."
But thatís where she met her husband,
Larry Nash, and the two decided to settle in Chicago and raise their
family; the two have three children ó Skyler, Kaiann and Jaedyn.
Thatís also where Holton Nash decided her career needed refocusing.
"Itís almost like your DNA
changes," Nash says of having children. "Doing eight shows a
week was no longer the be-all and end-all."
Instead, spending time with her
children was priority No. 1. "I would always have a stroller full
of toys. Everyone knew me as ĎMiss Lori.í"
Founding The C.A.M.P.U.S. Inc.
(Celebrating Artistry Musicality Physicality United Successfully), a
recreational arts program for families, seemed the next logical dream.
So did her segue to PBS KIDS last year. "I really found my true
path," she says.
Chosen among 1,500 applicants after a
nationwide search, Nash has two full seasons filmed already.
"Itís great to be part of a
network thatís giving back to children," she says.