Regina Taufen (Col ’99)

Before she won the praise of television critics, Regina Taufen had to earn the respect of some tough customers off the screen.

When she was a nanny, Taufen (Col ’99) created characters like Muffy the Dancer and Fumiko the Clothing Designer to entertain children who were not allowed to watch TV. The adventures of her make-believe friends led to a script for a television show that has fulfilled one of Taufen’s dreams.

The Kitty Landers Show was named Best Family Pilot at the 2008 New York Television Festival Awards. Taufen not only helped create the show, but she also is co-writer and plays the lead role, which earned her a Best Actress award.

Taufen was inspired to write Kitty Landers, which is geared for children ages 4 to 8 years old, because she loves kids and “how they live in the present.”

Taufen as Kitty Landers

The show establishes her artistic identity, which she is eager to share.

“Why am I pursuing a life as an artist if I am not going to try to make something that someone else will see and enjoy?” Taufen says. “I wanted to make something that was mine.”

Taufen, who grew up in Philadelphia, has been acting since the age of 10. At UVA, she took playwriting classes from Doug Grissom, who also taught Tina Fey of Saturday Night Live and 30 Rock fame.

She followed her career to New York, where she landed a spot in the reality show FilmFakers, then to Los Angeles, where she appeared in the TV series Pepper Dennis and worked as an assistant on the films Night at the Museum and its sequel. During a break from the latter, she sank her teeth into a script for Kitty Landers—with help from fellow writer Chris Potocki—and eventually showed the manuscript to her boss, director Shawn Levy.

The main character is a California artist—“a kooky Mary Poppins type,” Taufen says. Landers takes everyday items that she might find in the trash and turns them into art. The cast of character includes neighbor Muffy (played by Tarah Paige), who is a dancer, Fumiko (played by Saemi Nakamura), a Japanese friend who designs clothes, and Old Man MacGruder (played by Richard Moll), Kitty’s landlord.

The show is being shopped to several television studios, including Nickelodeon, but Taufen already feels gratified by the raves she has received from her target audience—kids.

Editor’s note: Since the original publication of this story, the video of the pilot of the Kitty Landers show has been taken down.