Second Act

Tennessee actress living her dream at Devonshire

(5.17.16) A 12-year-old Robin Horwitz (then Higgins), living in Jackson, Tenn., was known to hang out at the city’s civic center, singing and participating in plays and musicals, under the tutelage of Pat Alford. By the time she attended the University of Tennessee, she had already envisioned her dream job.

“The same job that Pat was doing in my hometown,” said Horwitz. “Running a cultural center with music, dance and theatre. It was exactly what I wanted to do.”

So she designed her own major in recreation arts administration, graduating from UT in 1986.

Then came her big life detour. She decided she wanted to be an actress. 

Horwitz moved to Nashville, where she appeared on stage, worked with an improv troupe – and of course – waited tables (Jerry Lee Lewis once tipped her $50). She then packed up and made her way to New York for three years, where she studied at the acclaimed American Academy of Dramatic Arts, while working Off Broadway.

“My great brush with fame was stunt doubling for Meryl Streep in the film Postcards from the Edge,” she said. “I guess in the ‘80s, there was enough of a physical resemblance.”

After giving The Big Apple her best shot, she returned to Knoxville to act, and then moved back to Jackson where she worked as the city’s administrator of recreation. In that job, her theater improv program was recognized at both the state and national levels with the Arts and Humanities award in recreation programming.

Her dream still alive after 20 years, in 2005 she applied for and won the job as the manager of the Skokie Park District’s Devonshire Cultural Center, a cutting-edge facility known for its commitment to the arts.

“Devonshire had everything: fine arts, music, dance, cooking, community theatre, and even a preschool,” she said. “It was everything I could have wanted and more.”

And for the past ten years, with the help of what she calls “a creative, talented and adventurous staff,” Horwitz has put her unique stamp on the center. The preschool and arts programs are thriving, and she has introduced new, popular theatre classes to Skokie.

“Theater is my first love,” she said. “so working to enhance that program came naturally to me.”

And her show talents have not been wasted. In her spare time she has belted out the national anthem at both the Skokie Festival of Cultures and at a few Chicago White Sox games.

“You have to stay sharp,” she said. “You never know when you might get a call to perform.” ❐

For information about the wide variety of Devonshire Cultural Center programs, call (847) 674-1500, ext. 2400.