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Building Character, Creativity, Imagination at CARE Actor for Kids

Founder Pooja Chawla is a working actress who performs throughout the Washington, D.C. area.

By Amanda Socci

Care Act it Out! Summer camps performing “Give up, Gecko! (Photo: Care Actor)

ALEXANDRIA, VA – CARE Actor is a theater arts education program located in Old Town that works to inspire imagination and talent and to build character in children through weekly classes, summer camps, family improv workshops, and themed-drama birthday parties.

Founded in 2008 as the creative vision of Pooja Chawla, CARE Actor has been in its current location, 129 South Royal Street, only since May 2018. “When we moved in last year, we were focused on doing summer camps in Fairfax County and Arlington,” she says. “We didn’t have time to become a part of the [Old Town] community.”

CARE Actor program manager Sis Reid reads a book to young children and their caregivers during Storytime and Crafts at their studio in Old Town. (Photo by Pooja Chawla)

That had changed by the time school started in September. Chawla held an open house in November and then partnered with the independent Old Town bookstore, Hooray for Books, for interactive story times, where the staff first does a dramatic reading to youngsters, with exaggerated voices and extravagant facial expressions. This sparks the children’s imagination and enthusiasm for the next part, which is dressing up in costumes and acting out pivotal scenes from the book they’ve just heard.

In addition to leading CARE Actor, Pooja Chawla is a working actress who performs throughout the Washington, D.C. area. She also leads her staff through events at coffee shops and through partner organizations.

CARE Actor staff, from L to R: special events coordinator Meredith Richard, founder Pooja Chawla, director of operations Toni Rae Salmi, and program manager Sisi Reid. (Photo by Pooja Chawla)

The name of the business, CARE Actor, is a play on words, she says, because if spoken fast, it sounds a lot like “character. And I believe theater is a means of teaching character, empathy, and kindness.”

CARE Actor for Kids offers drop-in classes for children ages 2 to 15, weekly classes, one-day camps that coincide with breaks in the Alexandria City Public Schools calendar, and special events geared to the whole family. For information, go to: and

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