Category: GEMA, GEMA Alumni Spotlight

Title:GEMA Alumni Spotlight – Victoria Bundonis (C’85), Stage Actress

By Christina Cauterucci (C ’10)

Since she abandoned the corporate world for show business, Victoria Bundonis has translated her passion for theater into a successful career on the stage and screen. In roles ranging from the comedic to the tragic and everything in between, Bundonis has brought her acting and singing finesse to dozens of national and regional theatrical productions as well as TV shows, including The House of Blue Leaves, Showtime’s Nurse Jackie, Cinderella and Grease. Here, she offers a picture of the life of a traveling actress and a dose of seasoned wisdom for budding Hoya thespians.

How did you start your career in theater?
Theater has been a bit of a second career for me. After graduating from Georgetown, I worked in advertising for 13 years and ended up at a company that wasn’t a good fit for me. I missed singing and dancing—I had been involved in musical theater earlier in life, but always for fun, not for money. I decided to take a chance and put together a one-woman show, a cabaret. It went over quite well, so I started going to auditions. I ended up in the national touring revival of The Music Man. After all those years in advertising, this was totally out of the blue, but I loved it.

What is the most rewarding part of your job?
It’s a joy to collaborate on projects with a team and share wonderful stories with the world. I’ve been able to meet amazing people from all different backgrounds.

Do you have a favorite role from past shows?
People always ask me that, but until recently, I didn’t have a good answer! A few months ago, I performed in The Human Comedy. I played a widow in small-town California during World War II. My character had a beautiful story, all about simple joys and tragedies.

What is it like to spend months at a time on the road for a show?
It’s hard, because I miss my husband and my home in New York. But my preference is to have a great job, and if that takes me away from New York, so be it. Traveling with shows has brought me to big cities and small towns all across the country that I’d never have gotten to see otherwise. The longest I’ve spent on the road is two and a half years. That was tough, but I’ve been lucky enough to find some local jobs in commercials, voiceover, film and television to keep me home for a stretch.

In other careers, you leave by choice or you get fired. In show business, looking for work is part of the job description. I’m always sending headshots around, networking, standing in line for one audition and then running home to change my look for another audition. Anything entrepreneurial is a challenge, and I’m basically a freelancer running my own business. It forces me to balance my left brain and my right brain, my business side and my creative side.

What would you say to a fellow Hoya who wants to pursue a career in theater?
Just start doing it! You don’t have to be in New York or L.A. to start a successful career. Network like crazy—you never know who you’ll meet and how they might help you find your next job. GEMA is amazing; your peers are such an important resource. Georgetown is a great common ground to have.

How did Georgetown prepare you for what you’re doing now?
My passion for theater solidified at Georgetown. When I was a student, Mask & Bauble was guerrilla theater. No one put a limit on what we could or couldn’t do, and anyone could direct or produce at any age. It taught me to be resourceful. It was an environment where you had to put yourself out there—and if you did, you could do great things. That’s a lesson that will take you far in the world.

What does the future hold for you?
Having worked in advertising prior to my career in theater helps me to appreciate how lucky I am now. I’m going to ride this wave for as long as it makes me happy and as long as it’s possible for me to do it. As Judi Dench said, “You don’t need to retire as an actor; there are all those parts you can play lying in bed, and in wheelchairs.” Oh, so true!