Anika grew up in Cambridge, Massachusetts with 9 brothers and sisters from different races and countries. She made her performance debut singing with her siblings at her parents’ annual Christmas parties. Her mother thought they were the multi-cultural Von Trapps. Anika thought her brothers and sisters were holding her back. Or she might have just been a bossy little brat. (You make the call: click to the left.)
Anika spent the rest of her childhood grappling with whether she would rather be Annie or Whitney Houston. Ultimately Whitney won (RIP), but she realized her future lay in achieving a balance between the two. She did drama in high school, majored in theater at Yale, then came to the Apple to try her luck.
After college, Anika moved to New York City. Her first professional job was Rent, during which she was given the nickname Shafrika, which thankfully stuck better than the nickname her father gave her when she was little, Squeaka. After Rent, Anika was wicked psyched to see what show would come to her next, now that she was a Big Broadway Professional. She didn’t work again for 2 years, a painful but invaluable lesson. Eventually things picked up, and since then she has appeared on Broadway in Avenue Q, Xanadu, All Shook Up, and currently, Beautiful: The Carole King Musical. Perhaps most exciting, Anika is the only person on the planet who can say she was in the original casts of both Xanadu and Zanna, Don’t!.
In 2007, with director April Nickell, Anika co-founded Jaradoa Theater, a company whose mission was to promote mercy, beauty and truth through performance and service. For 4 years they produced theater that strove to resonate, inspire and reach audiences that didn’t usually have access to theater, and they used theater to serve the community, working in public middle schools, at-risk youth centers, teen alternative-to-incarceration programs, nursing homes, and homeless senior centers. There is nothing Anika’s done in her life that she’s prouder of.
In 2009, Jaradoa Theater produced a musical Anika wrote about her childhood, called Shafrika, The White Girl. After she was approached about interest in a TV version of her upbringing, Anika co-wrote a pilot with Orlando Bishop called “The Joneses,” a one-hour dramedy loosely based on her family, but set today. These experiences confirmed for Anika a love of collaborative writing, and she is currently writing a play with her longtime partner-in-crime, April Nickell. More on that as it develops.