Meet the Staff

Jessie Dez- Editor / Writer

Jessie Dez is a graduate from Palm Beach Atlantic University where she obtained her Bachelor of Arts Degree, with concentrations in Musical Theater and Broadcast Journalism. As an actress, she has performed all over South Florida with well-known companies, such as Delray Beach Playhouse, Arts Center Management, MNM Theatre Company, Warner Bros Entertainment Inc, Lake Worth Playhouse, etc. Not only have you seen her on stage, but on television as well. As a television host for Living Local FL TV, Jessie has been on FOX 29 highlighting all the best places to eat, shop and play in South Florida.  Jessie is excited to bring her two passions together as Editor of South Florida Theater Magazine.

Bridget Callinan- Editor

Bridget Callinan

Bridget received her B.S. degree in Media Communication Studies at Florida State University. Other than growing up as a performer, it was at Florida State where Bridget discovered her passion for arts and entertainment. She specializes in helping bring entertainment to our audience members through strategic marketing and creative advertising. She pushes the creative bounds of traditional promotion to help establish and support the arts. Bridget now works as the Marketing Director for Arts Center Management.

Ilana Jael - Writer /Reviewer

Ilana Jael earned her MFA in Creative Nonfiction from Sarah Lawrence College and a BA in Writing and Psychology from Florida Atlantic University’s Wilkes Honors College. She also served as co-founder of the student theatre troupe “Theatre in the Raw.” She has been dabbling in both playwriting and acting since high school. A few favorite roles include Rebel in Columbinus (Bob Carter’s Actor’s Rep), The Fearful One in The Cave (G-Star School of The Arts), and Amanda in The Glass Menagerie (Theatre In The Raw). Her one-act plays Goodbye, Karma’s A Bitch, Certainly Not About Him, and Open Heart have also been previously performed at Actor’s Rep and/or at Florida Atlantic University. More recently, Ilana appeared in and created the original musical ZeeZou’s Stardust Extravaganza with Area Stage’s Miami Queer Theatre Collective. Her short plays have been produced virtually by New City Players, Theatre Lab, and Femuscripts. She is also a current company member of New City Players, and you can check out her theatre blog at!

Luis Herrera- Writer / Reviewer

Luis Roberto Herrera is a Colombian-American artist who uses his work to ask the questions of what it means to be alone, who are we within our relationships, and how does our culture effect who we become. Luis Roberto Herrera was a resident playwright in the 2017 GREENHOUSE Residency  at SPACE on Ryder Farm, a Fellow at Athena Theatre in 2019, and most recently part of the cohort in the Latinx Playwrights Circle 2022 Mentorship Intensive. Along with being a playwright he is also a screenwriter and director having written 6 short films, one television pilot and directing two of them. Some of his works include several full length plays; Poolside Glow(Inkwell Theatre Playlab 2022), SAA[not that one](A-Tipico Play Festival 2021), At The End Of The Hall: A ghost story(Latinx Playwrights Circle 2022 Mentor Intensive), BLOOD ON THESE HANDS, Born Still, and Grandma’s Armchair. His film writing credits include; No Te Puedes Mover(short), Slow Dance(short), Wren & Lin(short), Sunny(short), Through The Crowd(short), and Thank you, places!(feature).

Marvin Glassman- Writer / Reviewer

Marvin Glassman is a regular contributor to South Florida Magazine. Marvin has written extensively on the cultural arts, especially comedy, music and theater for both Florida Jewish Journal and the online publication for over 25 years.

Christopher McDaniel- Writer / Reviewer

Christopher McDaniel is a MFA candidate for Creative Writing in Nonfiction at Florida Atlantic University and a contributing editor for Virginia Bride Magazine. He holds a background in all things writing, editing, teaching, and publishing. One of his main passions is grant writing for nonprofit organizations and university advancement. Hailing from southern Virginia, he enjoys the vineyards tucked away in the Blue Ridge Mountains and good Smithfield ham. Chris currently resides in Boca Raton, Florida.

Mindy Leaf- Writer / Reviewer

Hailing from New York City, but now a long-time resident of Fort Lauderdale, Mindy Leaf has worked as a professional writer and editor for over 30 years. Her byline has appeared in both national and international magazines, including Omni, New York Magazine, Showboats International, Power & Motoryacht, Yachting, Fine Dining, Jewish Monthly and various literary publications. She is the author of “The Working Mom’s Handbook” and childrens book, “Things That Count!” and was series editor for Commuter Press. She’s worked as a restaurant critic for Florida’s MyCity magazine network and was senior staff writer at Artblend, an international fine-art quarterly. She particularly enjoyed writing a weekly opinion blog for LA’s Jewish Journal called “The Examined Life.” Mindy has headed a bi-weekly theater column at Around Town for over a decade and is delighted to also contribute her reviews to South Florida Theater Magazine.

Samara Smukler- Writer / Reviewer

Samara Smukler is a recent graduate of the University of Miami, where she received her Bachelor of Arts degree in English (with a concentration in Creative Writing) and Psychology. Her work has appeared in a variety of student publications, including The Miami Hurricane newspaper and Distraction Magazine, the university’s premier arts and lifestyle magazine. More recently, she served as a Senior Editorial Intern for Girls’ Life Magazine, where she interviewed rising stars in the entertainment industry and reported on various topics in the pop culture, entertainment, beauty and lifestyle areas. She is thrilled to combine her passion for storytelling and love of theater as a writer for South Florida Theater Magazine!