Tell us a little about your artistic background and journeys especially in Calgary?
I fell in love with theatre and acting at a very young age growing up in Mexico and my creative journey has followed me since. My time spent on stage in the theatre made me realize I wanted to go deeper in my passion for acting, which led to working on movies in Mexico, and little by little I built a career in acting.
When we first immigrated to Canada, we first settled in Montrexal. As a newcomer, our priority was getting acquainted with life here, thus I stopped working as an actress. Having to leave everything we built back home, my career was put on pause in the meantime of establishing new roots in a new place. It was an alienating experience. When I first arrived as an immigrant in Canada, the transition didn’t come easy and found it almost impossible to even think about creating art or acting. The bigger picture was doing everything in our power to first survive as immigrants. Maybe not everybody arrives with the same needs or the same problems but the fact that I had to put my career aside which was taking off back home was really hard.
Putting my family and our livelihood on this land as first priority didn’t leave much time to think about acting. As a family, we established ourselves in Montreal and lived there for nine years. Life got easier with time but I still didn’t feel comfortable putting myself out there because of my accent. The anxiety around my thick Latino accent took a long time to ease up and I really felt like nobody would be interested in hiring me. I didn’t believe in myself, so it seemed like nobody else would either and even though I have talents and skills, I really didn’t know how to translate them over in the new environment. Spending our first nine years in Canada living in Montreal was a big learning curve and seemingly discouraging at the lack of opportunities in the art sector. Everything seemed to be so far out of my reach, so when we moved over to Calgary, it was a breath of fresh air. I realized that it wasn’t that hard to find creative opportunities to build myself up again and the connection to ICAI gave me hope and I understand I don’t have to do it all by myself anymore. Moving to Calgary was a great choice and I am so grateful that we found a home here where I can do what I love again and have a community with welcoming artistic expression.
Can you tell us what inspires you to create?
My husband is a musician and my number one supporter who gave me strength to believe in myself. I tried to move past my fears of speaking on stage and find other avenues I could follow. One day I said to myself, even though I cannot act right now - I am going to do something I really love and something that I have been wanting to do for many years. Through this process, I found myself pursuing music, letting new doors open for me.
For the last six years, I’ve been taking lessons, studying and consistently practising, deep diving into a new world to me. And over the last three years, all those hours of learning came into practice when I took part in playing in the orchestra, choir, and was very lucky to have the opportunity to play in a musical.
I started studying music and it was a very slow and tedious process but I was excited about a new challenge. What inspires me is the drive to keep pushing forward and persevere. Life as an immigrant taught me a lot about finding alternative solutions and adjusting to a new way of life. Reviving myself as an artist while exploring new mediums through life’s challenges was a big point of inspiration and contributed to me believing in myself and letting go of my fears.
What challenges have you identified specifically for artists like you who are new to Canada, especially Calgary?
Coming to a new country is full of its own challenges but for me language was definitely the biggest battle here. The cultural differences are so evident in terms of our way of conducting yourself in Mexico versus the life flow here, in Calgary/Canada, which is something I still sometimes struggle with. Being in Calgary however, is a world of a difference as in Montreal, I found it almost impossible and didn’t feel as welcomed there.
As an immigrant, it may seem like you have no chances without support and resources. Having support from my family and the connections and opportunities I received through ICAI made the world of a difference for me. Here in Calgary I have to say that we have been very lucky and the people we work with are very pleasant and welcoming. I am so blessed to have made the impactful connections here that made me believe in myself again and not worry so much about what I don’t have yet but rather seeing myself as an artist on a journey.
I couldn’t have gotten to this point on my own and I am proud of what we have been doing as a family because I have to say that I am not alone. I definitely wouldn’t have been able to come this far without my husband, who is always so supportive and wants me to keep pushing myself and go for it. Finding our place in Calgary with its welcoming and open culture, I felt more accepted here and acting was on my mind again. I was interested in auditioning and maybe getting an agent so I can get back on stage and be a part of the world that again that I so missed. However I was still very conscious of my accent and steered away from speaking roles when auditioning, so a (foot in the door) I started doing background acting work and have been doing that for the last three years. When I had the chance to be in a play last year, it was something that just broke this barrier. I found myself at home again, in a different country but on stage, finding my voice here.
Can you share your aspirations, like projects or individuals you will like to work on?
Getting a taste of working on films from background work made me fall in love with the film process and its universe is so interesting to me. It’s different from theatre, which is what I’ve been so familiar with but I’d like to do more, to expand my knowledge about the ins and outs of the industry and acting. It is something that I learned here in Calgary and I just love it - it’s wonderful.
The percussion family of instruments is something I really gravitate towards. I love how many different paths you can take with the endless options of the wide range of instruments, living to the beat of my own drum on my artistic journey. You can play marimba, xylophone or a drum set - and the list goes on. It can be as simple as that or as complex as you want, for example the marimba with all of its formalities. There is definitely room for improvement in my musical endeavours -- I’m not as good as I would like but it's a learning process which I am finding very interesting. I think any musician would like to have a stage and opportunities to play, just as an actor needs a stage. My goal is to seek out opportunities in both music and acting and find myself at home on stage as well.
Are you working on any projects right now? Tell us about it.
It was truly magical for me to go from being just in the background to finally using my voice again on stage. My faith and strength in myself is growing further and I hope that things are only going to go uphill from here.
I underestimated how hard becoming a musician was going to be. When I first started, I thought I could learn in a week or two, so it didn’t take me long to realize how much I have yet to learn. However the more I learn, the more I realize I don’t know enough. And so I keep going and seeing the pay off is extremely rewarding. The first concert I was a part of here was in 2019 with a local composer who set up a large auditorium for us to play in. We were able to organize a non profit organization but had to stop due to Covid, however we are planning a concert next year and I am so excited!
So what I am doing right now is, I am proud to say I am a musician and I am an actress. Now that my kids are grown up and we are more settled, I am so eager to be creatively busy as much as possible, to once again focus on what I love doing, what makes me happy, and share that passion with the world.
Since your arrival in Canada, what are the proud moments you would like to share with the people of Calgary about what you do?
Another great opportunity was at Engineered Air Theatre in Arts Commons where ten plays were selected from fifty or sixty. It was a collaboration between five immigrant artists and five established Canadian artists - ten artists total working on ten plays. I really enjoyed the workshop-like performance.
I first connected with ICAI in December 2022 and we had collaborated with Downstage Theatre. There were a number of plays and commissioned short stories on the subject of climate change. The performance I had there made a big difference with the career I already had. It changed my thinking to not be so afraid of auditioning for speaking roles anymore. Right now I’m not sure if it was all really in my mind and most of all myself doubting my abilities. Having these fears really shifted my life and I’m very grateful that it is time to push them aside and use my voice.
The barrier was broken that moment and it gave me confidence to keep going. I’ve accepted my accent and am excited for the growth that is still to come. Being kind to myself when having anxiety before the performance but letting go of the fears as soon as I got on stage was a big takeaway in the process. That moment was pivotal for my future work here. I am really proud of that but I have to say that without the help from the community in Calgary, ICAI and the welcoming attitude here, none of this would have been possible. I wouldn’t have had the resources to get to where I am now and to go through so much growth.