Edited by Bee Tomlinson
What is your idea of perfect happiness?
Seeing the world! I would be so incredibly happy to just spend the rest of my life traveling, eating, and meeting people from all walks of life. It would be such a privilege to experience and appreciate art, music, and lifestyles from other cultures. I could do that forever.
What is your motto?
“Nothing, what’s a motto with you?” I kid, I kid-which brings me to my motto: Find the funny. Humor invigorates us. It releases tension. It lets us approach situations with a different gaze. It is also incredibly useful as an actor. Finding those moments of levity in a script and knowing how to play those opposites is what gives your performance depth and dimension! The same is true in life. With our country in its current state, I think I’d go crazy if I couldn’t find ways to laugh, just a little. Being able to have a chuckle at the expense of our Toddler in Chief is what gives me the rest I need to keep resisting him.
What is your current state of mind?
Resistance. Finding new ways to be better. Tacos.
How would you like to die?
I wouldn’t. I want to live forever so I can learn everything about everything. But since I have to, I want to go out peacefully in my sleep, or at the climax of the world’s greatest orgasm. (They don’t call it “La Petite Mort” for nothing!)
What is it that you love most about what you do?
The exchange. From the beginning of the process to the end, everyone has something to learn and something to teach. Rehearsals create this amazing world where my collaborators and I can compare and contrast methods that we each get to carry with us to our next projects. The exchange of ideas never stops though; that’s why I absolutely love talk backs after shows. Of course, you usually have to sift through the dull “How did you learn all those lines?” questions, but it is always such a privilege to hear how our work affects the audience. Every exchange is different and every audience has something different to learn and something different to teach me with each show.
If you could have a conversation with anybody (alive or dead), who would it be?
Frida Kahlo. She was half Latinx, half Jewish, like me, and I’ve been inspired by her life and work since I was a little girl. She incorporated her culture and identity into all of her art, and I am so inspired by her resilience. To be able to create so much beauty after experiencing so much tragedy is something I’ll never understand. She was such a force.
When did you realize that you wanted to be a creative?
I’m pretty sure I popped out of the womb an artist. I was also a smart-ass, dramatic, and imaginative kid. Luckily, my parents noticed it early on and encouraged that spark. I used to walk around everywhere on my tip-toes, so my parents thought, let’s put her in ballet! I had amazing parents who, though they didn’t have a lot of money, made sure that I was exposed to all sorts of art, music, dance, and cultures. I’ve always been captivated by different forms of self-expression, and how those forms influenced the world around them. I did my first show when I was eight years old, and that was pretty much it. I’ve taken breaks here and there, but I always come back to theatre in some capacity.
What motivates you?
Chicago. Chicago has a hustle and a grind like nowhere I have ever been before. The artists who have chosen to make this beautiful city their home create work with such intention and integrity. It’s infectious. I try to see as much work as I can in as many disciplines as I can. Not so that I can compare myself, because that’s dangerous, but so that I may be humbled and inspired by my community. When we lift each other up and support one another’s work, everyone thrives.
What do you love about being a woman?
Everything. Except menstrual cramps. I could do without those little reminders of what a miracle my body is.
What is your experience of being a woman, while also being a creative?
That we are still highly, highly, underrepresented, underpaid, and under-utilized. There are still not nearly enough women in leadership positions in the arts, so there is not enough work being produced from the female perspective. That goes even more so for women of color. Until we have more female directors, designers, playwrights, artistic designers, and producers, our stories, if told at all, are still going to be painted by the patriarchy. That’s why companies like Firebrand Theatre are so necessary. When we are in charge of our own narratives, the possibilities are endless.