MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Amber Jo Manuel, 32 |

MEET YOUR NEIGHBOR: Amber Jo Manuel, 32

The Union StaffManuel
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Where I live: On Bitney Springs Road when I’m not house- or dog-sitting around Nevada County.

How long I’ve lived in Nevada County: I was born here and lived here through high school, but then moved away and lived in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Honolulu, Ghana, Bali, and Pittsfield, Mass.

Why I like living here: The outdoors, my friends and community.

What I do in my spare time: Run trails and dream about directing plays with bottomless budgets.

My family: In town is aunt Anne; my mom, Joan; uncle Al and aunt Laura; my brother, Paul and wife Kelly, and their kids Alex, Luke, and Matt; and my cousins Margaret and Tom.

Best friend: Rena Peek, Keslie Stewart, Moses Jones, Matt and Raelynn Noel, Andy and Karen Lawler, and Oscar Carpenter.

Favorite food: Popcorn and beets.

Pets: I have a cat named Louisa, who whines too much, and a dog Oscar, who I watch when Chad is out of town.

Job: I am currently directing “The Love Suicides” at Sonezaki for Community Asian Theatre of the Sierra, which opens Jan. 16, and I am directing an adaptation of “King Lear” for Nevada County School of the Arts, which plays Dec. 11. Of course, I have another temporary job elsewhere that allows me to eat and live.

What I like about my job: My directing job: That I can inspire other artists to create and challenge themselves in ways they never considered possible. I am especially excited to be involved with CATS this winter, and to be a part of promoting cultural diversity in our community. So far, the CATS group seems extremely open to being experimental and allowing me freedom to create whatever vision I would like. This is really exciting to me.

Temporary job: That it allows me to eat and live … and that my employers are so supportive of me as an artist that they allow me to focus on those types of projects when necessary.

What I would change about my job: I would love to be able to make a living directing and teaching theater, probably the same dream of most artists in Nevada County.

The best job I ever had: Dancing with condoms and bananas in New York City for AIDS Awareness. (Maybe not the best, but it certainly sounds the most interesting!)

If I won a million: Use it to create more collaborations among community artists.

My favorite vacation: Anywhere remote where there are not a lot of other travelers, and lots of culture.

My dream vacation: Going to Cuba or Brazil to dance.

My greatest accomplishment: Demonstrating and organizing students to surround the capitol building with other teachers in the state of Hawaii to help teachers receive a well-deserved raise in salary.

If I could relive my life, I would: take more risks and not fall for dorky men.

What I’d change about the world: Ignorance.

The most important lessons I’ve learned: Confidence from my father and humility from my professor.

The people who have made the biggest difference in my life: Dennis Carroll, my professor, who taught me that students are the most important factor in teaching; and my dad, who taught me to have fun and to be generous.

My hero: Paul Noel, wise and wonderful and warm.

The best book I’ve read recently: “Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith.”

My personal theme song: “Happy Birthday.” I love my birthday.

Favorite TV show: I just can’t go here at all.

A movie I’d recommend: “Until The End of the World” or “Fight Club.” Both deal with surrealism, which absolutely excites me.

What you should know about me: I’m short with a tall personality.

A secret I’ve never told anyone before now: I have ten bucks hidden under a log near the South Yuba.

“Meet Your Neighbor” appears each Monday. To suggest a person to be profiled, call The Union newsroom at 273-9561.

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