Inna Swinton: ‘Momager’ to the Stars

Inna Swinton: ‘Momager’ to the Stars

As a successful lawyer, author and actor, Inna Swinton would be impressive in her own right. Add to that raising and wrangling three children with performing careers, and, well, life just gets crazy!  

Inna, also known as Inna Idelchik Swinton, along with husband Rolfe Swinton and their three children, Ava, Alexa, and Maxim Swinton, discovered Piscataquis County, Maine during summer, 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic seemed to be everywhere.  

“It was really a happy accident,” Inna recalled. “I’ve always loved Maine. I spent some time there, before I had kids, on Mt. Desert Island and at Acadia National Park. During the pandemic, we weren’t sure where to go. [With COVID travel restrictions] we found ourselves with very few options, so I said, ‘How about we go to Maine?’ My husband and Alexa started researching and found Piscataquis County. We wanted to get away somewhere quiet.”  

The family fell in love with Sebec Lake, the farmland, farmer’s markets, hiking, biking, and fresh blueberries! They returned again for several weeks this summer.  

“It allowed us time as a family,” Inna said. “Before the pandemic, I was literally driving into New York City twice a day, sometimes three times, going for one child, then another, going for my standup comedy act in the evening. The pandemic really helped us to reorganize, but I’d have to say I’m not sure it’s lasting, so that’s why we still need Maine. We’ve only been home for a few days and I’m already thinking ‘We need to go back!’”  

A family full of talent 

Life for the Swintons, who reside in Bergen County, NJ, is hectic. Rolfe is an entrepreneur in technology, data, media, and entertainment startups, and helps Inna manage the family’s calendars and communications, as well.  

Inna coaches all three kids for auditions and performances, and, because they are minors, must stay on set when they are working.  

Ava, 14, who appeared in You, Me and My Purple DocsThe Early Night Show with Joshua Turchin, and Ultimate Vocal Music Summit, all in 2020, is interested in music and musical theater.  

“Ava is very musical,” said Inna. “She also did some acting, but for her, music is something with which she really connected. Ava taught herself guitar during the pandemic and plays cello and piano.” 

The end of summer saw Inna helping Ava prepare for entrance exams to a very selective performing arts high school. “She sang for her audition, and she’s doing a musical theater program.”  

Alexa, 12, is an experienced actor and also a singer/songwriter. She starred in Sometime Other Than Now opposite Donal Logue and Kate Walsh. She played opposite Paul Giamatti and Maggie Siff in all five seasons of Showtime’s Billions. In 2019-2020, she played the role of Piper on ABC’s Emergence. These days, she’s in NYC often, filming her role as Charlotte’s daughter, Rose Goldenblatt, in the Sex and the City reboot, And Just Like That.  

Alexa also has a role in the M. Night Shyamalan thriller, Old. The family attended the screening of Old at the Center Theatre in Dover-Foxcroft, Maine, during their vacation. Alexa and Inna took questions from the audience, and Alexa posed for photos with fans.  

Maxim, 9, has great acting credits already, but was nursing a disappointment over the summer. An actor, singer, and stand-up comedian who can be seen on the Netflix series Halston, where he plays Young Roy Halston, Maxim was set to star in a new Jimmy Kimmel production, but the network only picked up two new fall series this year, and his was not one of them.  

His role as a Russian orphan in the proposed comedy, Adopted, was not a huge stretch, as Inna immigrated from Riga, Latvia, when she was 8 years old, and the family speaks fluent Russian.  

Inna also mentors Maxim in comedy and the two of them write together. Last year, Maxim, the only child to compete, won the Palm Springs International Comedy Festival. 

Inna’s journey 

Even as a young child in Riga, Inna wanted to be an actor. “One of my very first memories, I was 4 or 5, and one play was all about the vegetable garden, and probably, being in the Soviet Union, about collective farming. I was one of the narrators – there were two, a boy and a girl.”  

When Inna came to the U.S., she barely spoke English. She learned some words watching cartoons.  

“And I would always read voraciously, so pretty soon I went from reading Russian to reading English.”  

After only six months in this country, Inna went off to summer camp, performing in a show there despite language barriers. Another summer, she got the role of the wicked witch in the summer camp production of The Wizard of Oz.  

As Inna grew up, acting seemed a less attainable goal. As hardworking immigrants, Inna’s parents could only see the financial pitfalls of such a career. Inna, now an American citizen, attended Yale University and NYU Law School. She got a job with a large law firm, “but I never really gave up my dream of acting, so while I was working at the law firm, I started acting again. I got an agent. I did pretty well.”  

Inna has often played the role of a Chekovian heroine. She has appeared on the television series Law & Order, worked with the Barrow Group, and at Ensemble Studio Theater.  

She writes and performs standup in NYC clubs [or did, before the pandemic] including Dangerfield’s, Gotham Comedy, Eastville, and Broadway Company.  

Inna’s Off-Broadway festival play, Kooky Spook, is being turned into a short film. Her short play, The Part, won Best Play at the Strawberry One Act Festival. Inna has also written a novel, The Many Loves of Mila. 

Inna practices with the kids before every audition, and there are many auditions, but she makes it fun. “We get hot chocolate after. It’s not just about the audition. It’s about spending time with my kids, as well,” she said. “I read to my kids every single night for the first ten years of their lives, and that’s acting, too.” 

Inna must always keep balance in mind. Balance between her career and those of her children. Balance between three talented siblings with varied interests and levels of professional success. Balance between being actors and just being kids. The kids attend regular school and do lots of regular-kid activities.  

“I always make sure they have so much more in life than acting,” Inna said. “When we were in Maine, Maxim and Alexa built this massive Lego Ferris Wheel! Alexa does tennis and loves gaming design. Maxim does coding. Ava plays guitar and does rowing.” 

The balancing act would not be possible without the support of her husband, and her parents, who help drive the kids to their various activities, she said. 

Inna is currently working on a screenplay. “My character is a professional Mom who realizes that she’s putting so much energy into her children that she needs to ‘go for it’ herself, not necessarily just acting, but acting, writing – something – before it’s too late! It’s a comedy based on my life,” said Inna. “Well, maybe a dra-medy, because of those issues: what is your purpose, how to do it all or be okay with not doing it all. I think these issues are universal – and many Momagers, and Dadagers, and all people out there must wrestle with these questions. Who am I with and without my children, and how do I have agency and make my own way?”  

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Sheila Grant

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